Today, at the end of his retreat, Pope Francis tweeted:  Let us strive to fast during Lent with a smile, rather than a long face.

I wish I had a lot of time right now to tell the story of my amazing day but in a short while I will be going to Mass at St. Mary’s basilica, a celebration of the Eucharist I have come to love and look forward to every evening. I’ve not had too much time at the computer today but, if time allows after dinner, I’ll write something.

For now, just a brief bit of news on the return to the Vatican of Pope Francis and members of the Roman Curia after their spiritual exercises in Ariccia. I saw some photos on – the ones you see below – and I do have a comment (probably the same as you have) on the Pope and cardinals and bishops in the bus. They really do not look too happy. It made me re-read today’s papal tweet!


Don’t forget to tune in to Vatican Insider this weekend when I speak with Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life. You last heard Janet here when we spoke of the life and death of Norma McCorvey, famous for being Jane Roe of Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal. Norma later dedicated her life to attempting to overturn that ruling.

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. Outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library:   For VI archives:


(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has thanked Fr. Giulio Michelini for directing the Spiritual Exercises from which the Holy Father returned on Friday.

Before returning to the Vatican, the Pope expressed his and the Roman Curia’s appreciation for Fr. Michelini’s preparation and direction.

“I would like to thank you for the good you wanted to do for us and the good you have done us. Above all, thank you for having shown yourself as you are and for being natural without ‘putting on a face from a holy card’.”

Pope Francis also thanked him for the work put into his preparation: “This implies responsibility, taking things seriously.”

“There was a mountain of things upon which to meditate, but St. Ignatius says that when one finds something in the Exercises something that gives consolation or desolation, one must stop there and not go forward. I’m sure all of us found one or two among all of this material. The rest is not wasted; it remains and will serve for another time.”

The Holy Father went on to tell the story of a famous Spanish preacher to show that “sometimes a little word, a tiny thing” can serve as a point of reflection.

“After giving a grand, well-prepared sermon, a man – a great public sinner – came up to him in tears, asking for confession. He confessed in an outburst of sin and tears, sin and tears. The confessor – shocked because he knew the life of this man – asked him: ‘But, tell me, in what moment did you feel that God had touched your heart? With what word…?’ [He responded,] ‘When you said, Let’s move to another topic’. Sometimes it is the simplest words that help us, or sometimes those more complicated: To each the Lord gives the [right] word.”

Finally, Pope Francis told Fr. Michelini: “Above all, I wish you [the grace] to be a good friar.”

The Holy Father returned to the Vatican Friday morning and celebrated Mass for Syria.

He also sent €100,000 to the poor of Aleppo, thanks to a contribution of the Roman Curia. The donation will be made by the Office of Papal Charities, the Elemosineria Apostolica (Apostolic Almoner).

On Friday evening, Pope Francis is set to travel to the Vicariate of Rome where he will meet with the prefects of the Diocese. The meeting, a normal part of the life of the local Church, will be strictly private.