· Pope Francis finishes his spiritual exercises in Ariccia ·
Prayer and solidarity united Pope Francis and the Roman Curia with war torn Aleppo during the week of spiritual exercises which closed on Friday, 10 March. The Pontiff celebrated a Mass for Syria on the morning of the last day of the retreat in Ariccia. In a gesture of closeness and solidarity, and with the contribution of the Roman Curia, he donated of 100,000 Euros for the poor people of Aleppo, a sort of spiritual twinning between the preacher of the exercises, Franciscan Giulio Michelini and his counterpart in Aleppo, Ibrahim Alsabagh. At the end of the last meditation, Pope Francis wished to thank Fr. Michelini for the preparation with which he guided the reflections. He recalled that, at times, a simple word is enough to promote spiritual meditation. The Holy Father returned to the Vatican late Friday morning. In the afternoon he is set to visit with the prefects of the Diocese.
I would like to thank you for the good that you wanted to do for us and for the good that you have done for us.
First of all, for having shown yourself as you are, natural, without presenting an “enhanced image”. Natural. Without artifice. With all the baggage of your life: studies, publications, friends, parents, young friars whom you have to care for ...everything, everything. Thank you for being “normal”.
Secondly, I want to thank you for the work you have done, for how you prepared yourself. This means responsibility, taking things seriously. And thank you for all that you have given to us. It is true: there is a mountain of things on which to meditate but Saint Ignatius says that when one finds something in the Exercises, which offers consolation or desolation, one must stop and not proceed further. Certainly each of us has found two or three of these among all this. And the rest is not wasted, it remains, it will do for another time. Perhaps the most important, stronger things do not speak to some, and maybe a small word may say something more.... Like the anecdote of the great Spanish preacher, who, after a great well prepared sermon, was approached by a man - a great public sinner - in tears, asking for confession. He confessed; a floodgate of sins and tears, sins and tears. Surprised because he knew the life of this man, the confessor asked him, ‘tell me, at what point did you feel that God was touching your heart?. With which word?’. - ‘When you said ‘let us move to another topic’. [laughter]. Sometimes the simplest words are the ones that help us, or the more complicated ones: the Lord gives the [right] word to each of us.
I thank you for this and I hope you will continue to work for the Church, in the Church, in exegesis, in many things that the Church entrusts you with. But mostly, I wish for you to be a good friar.
St. Peter’s Square
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