Preaching Implies Hardships, Retreatants Told

Meditations at Pope's Retreat

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 8, 2006 (Zenit.org).- To preach the Gospel implies difficulties and failures, as it did for Jesus himself, says the preacher of the spiritual exercises being attended by Benedict XVI this week.



Cardinal Marco Cé, the retired patriarch of Venice, dedicated this morning's two meditations to faith in Christ, particularly in the trials the Church and its ministers are undergoing.

In the first meditation, the preacher said that Mark's Gospel "does not at all hide the fact that Jesus, after a first moment of enthusiasm and success in Galilee, had to face growing indifference and the distancing of many people, ever more numerous."

"On several occasions" Jesus laments the exhaustion he feels "in trying to make his message understood," said the retired patriarch, according to a Vatican Radio report.

"Therefore, we must not let ourselves be disturbed by our littleness," he told the retreatants, who include officials of the Roman Curia.

Referring to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the cardinal added: "She was no more than the handmaid of the Lord, but the Almighty made use precisely of her, of her silence and prayer, to realize the greatest things in history."

Storm proof faith

In the second meditation, the cardinal commented on the passage of Mark's Gospel in which Jesus and his disciples are in the boat in the midst of a violent storm.

He noted that Christ's reprimand might seem exaggerated, when counterpoised to the humanly understandable fear of the apostles, who were about to drown.

However, what the Gospel passage is meant to highlight is Jesus' desire to find in the apostles' hearts a faith that remains firm even in a storm, continued Cardinal Cé.

This episode is "a parable of the life of the Church," he said. "The latter lives in history, is marked by our weakness, and at times must face storms. In the century that just ended, the Church went through terrible storms and the century that has just begun appears very threatening."

"In times of trial, the Church must believe above all in her Lord, but one cannot remain under the cross without the strength of grace."

"Faith is the total giving of ourselves to God. It is a gift," the cardinal concluded. "But we love God," thanks to faith, even when "we cannot see anything, when we cannot hear anything."

The meditations are taking place in a chapel of the Apostolic Palace. The retreat ends Saturday morning. Benedict XVI is not holding any public audiences during the retreat.