Retreat a "Providential Opportunity," Says Pope

Thanks Preacher for His Meditations

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 20, 2005 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II did not participate in the closing Mass of the annual Spiritual Exercises he attended, but he personally thanked the preacher for the retreat.



"The Spiritual Exercises were for me and for many of my collaborators of the Roman Curia a providential opportunity of prolonged thanksgiving," the Pope said in a message to Bishop Renato Corti of Novara during an audience after the Mass and adoration Saturday that closed out the weeklong retreat at the Vatican.

Bishop Corti preached the annual retreat on the theme of "The Church at the Service of the New and Eternal Covenant."

The Holy Father said in his message to the bishop: "You reflections have helped us to put ourselves in docile and attentive listening to the Spirit who today speaks to the Church."

The Pope said that he appreciated in particular the "spiritual depth and pastoral wisdom" of the meditations given by the bishop.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, substituted for the Pope at the closing Mass on Saturday in St. Peter's Basilica.

Bishop Corti delivered the homily and addressed a particular greeting to the Pope: "Together with all of you, who so love him, I wish that his health will support him to carry forward the great and marvelous task that God has entrusted to him."

The Eucharist, said the bishop, is "the root and secret of the spiritual life of the faithful, as well as of all initiatives of the various local Churches spread throughout the world."

Prayers were recited for the Holy Father during the Mass, so that he would be "a lively image of the goodness and mercy of the heavenly Father and so that he will be loved and listened to by all with filial affection."

The Pope requested that Eucharistic adoration take place after the Mass. It was accompanied by hymns and readings from Scripture.

In statements on Vatican Radio, Bishop Corti said at the end of the retreat that he delivered his meditations with great "tranquility." Spiritual Exercises, he said, "are not a series of specialized conferences, or a study seminar."

They are, he added, "simply a time dedicated to God in which the one who carries out the task of preacher must offer a little help so that each one will listen to the Holy Spirit and, in relation with what the Holy Spirit suggests, revise his own life and come to conclusions of renewal of his life."