Pope's Retreat Will Focus on "Understanding Heart"

Salesian Chosen to Preach Spiritual Exercises

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 18, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's annual spiritual exercises will focus this year on a phrase from 1 Kings: "Give me, Lord, an understanding heart."



Salesian Father Enrico dal Covolo was selected to preach the seven-day retreat, which begins Sunday. Father dal Covolo, 59, is the general postulator of the Salesians and a professor of ancient Christian literature at the Pontifical Salesian University. He is a member of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences and, since 2002, a consultor for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The 17 meditations preached by Father dal Covolo will center on the priestly vocation, as the Church continues to celebrate the Year for Priests.

Each day of the retreat will include the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours, the preached meditations and adoration with Eucharistic benediction.

Monday, the first full day and the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, will be dedicated to prayer for priestly vocations.

Some of the meditation topics during the exercises will include: lectio divina, listening to the Fathers of the Church; the biblical histories of vocation: temptation, doubt and resistance also form part of our history; always sinners and always forgiven (cf. Luke 7:36-50 and Galatians 5:1,13-25); the histories of vocations of the first disciples (cf. John 1:35-51); and the Annunciation.

Additionally, the Salesian preacher will propose "priestly medallions," including some fathers of the Church, Venerable Giuseppe Quadrio, Venerable Pope John Paul II, the tale by Georges Bernanos, "The Diary of a Country Priest," and of course, the patron of the Year for Priests, St. John Vianney.

During the week all papal audiences will be suspended, including the general audience of Wednesday, Feb. 24.