POPE PIUS XI INITIATED RETREATS FOR ROMAN CURIA

You may follow the daily reflections of retreat master, Jesuit Fr. Pietro Bovati for the Roman Curia here: https://www.vaticannews.va/en.html

Holy See Press Office Director had this to say about the Holy Father today: “The cold the Holy Father has been diagnosed with in recent days is running its course, without symptoms attributable to other pathologies. In the meantime, Pope Francis celebrates daily Holy Mass and follows the spiritual exercises that are taking place at the Divine Master House in Ariccia.” (photo vaticannews)

POPE PIUS XI INITIATED RETREATS FOR ROMAN CURIA

Some years ago, when I was working for the Holy See at the Vatican Information Service, I wrote a piece on the history of papal retreats. Because there was generally little if any news during such a retreat, given that the Pope does not hold audiences in this period and the heads of Roman Curia offices are also involved in the retreat, we had to find something for our readers so I researched the history of papal retreats.

Annual retreats for the Pope and Roman Curia trace their origins to Pope Pius XI who, on December 20, 1929 marked the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination by publishing the Encyclical “’Mens nostra’,” On The Promotion of Spiritual Exercises” which was addressed to “Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops and Other Local Ordinaries in Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See.”

In that encyclical, the Pope informed the faithful that he had arranged to hold spiritual exercises every year in the Vatican, a custom still practiced by the Holy Father and ranking members of the Roman Curia. In the early years this retreat was held during the first week in Advent but now takes place in the first full week of Lent.

Cardinal Achille Ratti, archbishop of Milan, was elected to the papacy on February 6, 1922, and took the name of Pius XI. He died on February 10, 1939.

On January 6, 1929 feast of the Epiphany, Pius XI declared a Jubilee Year to mark the upcoming 50th anniversary of his ordination and asked the faithful to “share in the joy of their common father and to join with us in rendering thanks to the Supreme Giver of all good.” At the end of that year, in the Encyclical “Mens nostra,” he looked back at the “many and rich fruits” of the Jubilee and wrote that, as a way to “express our heartfelt gratitude, … we have deemed it fitting … to establish something most excellent which will, we trust, prove a source of many advantages to the Christian people. We are speaking of the practice of Spiritual Exercises, which we earnestly desire to see daily extended more widely, not only among the clergy, both secular and regular, but also among the multitudes of the Catholic laity.”

Pius XI then wrote at length on the history of “Sacred Retreats,” citing the words on this subject of his predecessors, of Doctors of the Church and founders of religious orders such as Don Bosco of the Salesians and, most especially of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, “whom we are pleased to call the chief and peculiar Master of Spiritual Exercises.”

The Pope in fact, on July 22, 1922 had “declared and constituted St. Ignatius of Loyola the heavenly Patron of all Spiritual Exercises and, therefore, of institutes, sodalities and bodies of every kind assisting those who are making the Spiritual Exercises.”

He underscored the “joy and consolation” he found in Spiritual Exercises and he announced: “And in order that we may secure this joy and consolation, both for ourselves and for others who are near us, We have already made arrangements for holding the Spiritual Exercises every year in the Vatican.” While highlighting the value of retreats, he admonished: “Nor should the priests of the Clergy, secular and regular, think that the time spent on the Spiritual Exercises tends to the detriment of the apostolic ministry.”

In 2014, the spiritual exercises for Pope Francis and members of the Curia marked the first time that they were held outside Vatican City, specifically in Ariccia, not far from Rome, in a religious house.

VATICAN INSIDER AND THE ARCHBISHOP OF ERBIL, IRAQ – SPIRITUAL EXERCISES: THE BEATITUDES OF THIRST

In case you missed the link I posted on Twitter and on Facebook, here is video of the final morning of Pope Francis and members of the Roman Curia on retreat in Ariccia, as well as their return to Vatican City (Vatican Media): https://youtu.be/HJ6bwXvJG2A

VATICAN INSIDER AND THE ARCHBISHOP OF ERBIL, IRAQ

Welcome to Vatican Insider on this last weekend of February when my very special guest in the interview segment is Archbishop Bashar Ward of Erbil, northern Iraq to whom I spoke during his brief time in Rome with other Chaldean bishops on their ad limina visit. We spoke after he had appeared on EWTN’s News Nightly show and just before his departure for the U.S. where he has been giving talks at universities and creating both awareness of and funding for the plight of Christians in Iraq. As you may know, there are strong Chaldean Catholic communities in Detroit and San Diego in the United States.

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 http://www.ewtn.com) 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: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

SPIRITUAL EXERCISES: THE BEATITUDES OF THIRST

Pope Francis and the Roman Curia concluded their spiritual exercises this morning – a retreat that had begun late last Sunday afternoon on the theme “In praise of Thirst.”

The last meditation of Fr.José Tolentino Mendoça focussed on the “Beatitudes of Thirst” and concluded his cycle of meditations on thirst.
By Sr.Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

The Beatitudes: Matthew sets the scene on the mountain. We therefore understand that “He is creating a parallel between Jesus and the figure of Moses—between the presentation of the Old Law, the Decalogue, and that of the New Law, the Beatitudes.”

The Beatitudes are our path

The Beatitudes are more than a law. They are, rather “ configuration of life, a true existential call.”In this way, they enlighten the path for the Church and for humanity as we journey toward an eschatological horizon.

The Beatitudes are a self-portrait of Jesus

Jesus’ Beatitudes are not only words that he proclaimed. “They represent the key by which to read his entire life.” We find in Jesus a model for living each of the Beatitudes. Above all, for us Christians, they are a “elf-portrait of the one who pronounced them.” Fr. Tolentino says that for Jesus this self-portrait “is an image of himself which he is constantly revealing to us and imprints on our hearts.” It is the model that we should use in order to “transform our own image.”

How are we proclaiming the Beatitudes?

God desires that our life be lived according to the beatitudes. “But what have we made of the Gospel of the Beatitudes? How have we proclaimed it? How do we put it into practice?” Do we see those who mourn, those who are in need of consolation, those who hunger and thirst for justice, the peacemakers?” If we do, Fr.Tolentino observes, “by being at their side,” the Church will rediscover her mission.

Beatitude people

The parable that best describes “Beatitude people” is that of the wedding guests (Luke 14:15-24). After the invited guests refuse to come, the “poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame” are invited. “The Church is not an exclusive club, closed, happy in measuring who to exclude. She must keep the doors open and, in an inclusive key, mirror in herself the world’s crossroads.”

SPIRITUAL EXERCISES: “JESUS WANTS TO QUENCH OUR THIRST” – SPIRITUAL EXERCISES: RECOGNIZING OUR THIRST FOR GOD

As you know, the Holy Father and some ranking members of the Roman Curia have been on retreat in Ariccia, just south of Rome, since late Sunday afternoon. Below is a video offered by vaticannews. Following that are some brief summaries of the meditations offered by this year’s retreat master, Portuguese Father Jose Tolentino de Mendonça, vice-rector of the Portuguese Catholic University in Lisbon and a consultant of the Pontifical Council for Culture since 2011.

http://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-02/pope-francis-roman-curia-spiritual-exercises.html#play

SPIRITUAL EXERCISES: “JESUS WANTS TO QUENCH OUR THIRST”

“Let the one who thirsts come” framed the reflection of Fr. José Tolentino Mendonça for the spiritual exercises of the Roman Curia on Monday.

By Sr. Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

Pope Francis and members of the Vatican Curia travelled on Sunday afternoon to the “Casa del Divin Maestro,” a retreat center in Ariccia, located in the Alban hills just outside Rome. They are taking part in the weeklong curial spiritual exercises. For his meditation on Monday, Portuguese Fr. José Tolentino Mendonça chose the phrase that the Apostle John puts on the lips of Jesus in the final chapter of the Book of Revelation.

Jesus offers unconditional love

Fr. Tolentino says Jesus comes to us in his own incompleteness, in his own emptiness. He stands before us and repeats the phrase, “Let the one who thirsts come!” Jesus offers the water of life, that is, unconditional love, even though he knows that we are still “incomplete and under construction.” Fr. Tolentino then suggests that since this is Jesus’ final invitation, we need to recognize that we are the ones who are thirsty, and more importantly, “just how much we thirst.”

Thirst is a teacher

As any dehydrated person can attest, water is the cure, Fr. Tolentino continued. Quoting American poet Emily Dickinson’s, “water is taught by thirst,” Fr. Tolentino asks the question, “do we allow our thirst to be a school of authentic awareness—ours and God’s?” Our thirst goes undetected because it “is painful and is discovered little by little.” Fr. Tolentino concluded, saying that in the end, Jesus invites us to dialogue with him about “the most profound dimensions of existence, so that we can meet that thirst present in every human person: thirst for relationship, acceptance and love.”

SPIRITUAL EXERCISES: RECOGNIZING OUR THIRST FOR GOD

Fr. José Tolentino Mendonça continues exploring the theme of thirst with Pope Francis and members of the Roman Curia during their Spiritual Exercises.

By Sr. Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

“I became aware that I was thirsty,” and “Thirst does not make me ill” are the titles of the reflections given by Fr. Tolentino on Monday evening and Tuesday morning.

Recognize how we thirst

On Monday afternoon, Fr. Tolentino focused on becoming aware of the thirst within.

“Connecting with one’s own thirst is not easy work, but if we do not do it, the spiritual life loses its grip on reality,” Fr. Tolentino says. Recognizing our thirst is how we anchor our spiritual lives in the concrete reality of who we are. After this introduction, Fr. Tolentino then explored how it is possible to evaluate the “state of our thirst,” and how “to interpret that thirst,” before turning to the theme of “the thirst for God” through a reflection on Psalm 42: “As a deer longs for running waters.” Yearning for water happens when water is absent. We yearn for God precisely because we feel his absence. Fr. Tolentino explains that, “the absence of God becomes a kind of temple because it sets in motion desire, nostalgia, sighing, seeking. And thirst then becomes a type of uninterrupted prayer.”

Thirst versus apathy

The theme he picked up on Tuesday morning is that the thirst discovered within is not a manifestation of illness. “The opposite of thirst which appears at times in our lives is apathy. It is this thirst for nothing which more or less assails us imperceptibly that makes us ill,” Fr. Tolentino explains. He then turned his attention to the topic of burnout and suggests that the prophet Jonah can teach us “the treatment” for our desires. By fleeing from God, Jonah manifests “the contradiction of our desire,” he says. Sadness is another symptom of apathy that Fr. Tolentino says can be cured by learning from Jesus. “Come to me, all of you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me” (Mt 11:28-29).