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Lenten spiritual exercises show importance of a ‘listening heart,’ Pope comments

.- Following the final meditation of a week of Lenten spiritual exercises, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the Roman Curia on Saturday. He welcomed the week as an opportunity to renew their priestly vocations and looked to the example of Mary as a major lesson from the retreat.

The Holy Father first thanked Fr. Enrico dal Covolo, the Salesian Father of Don Bosco who led the series of 17 meditations along the course of the week. He praised him for the "passionate and very personal way he guided us in the path towards Christ, in the path of renewal of our priesthood."

The theme of this year's meditations, taking place within the Year of the Priest, was "Lessons from God and the Church on the Priestly Vocation."

Reflecting on Fr. dal Covolo's insistence during the reflections on the importance of "a listening heart," the Pope said, "In reality, it seems to me that this might summarize the entire Christian vision of man."

Man, he continued, "has the necessity of listening" to others, but "mostly to the Other... God."
"Only in this way does one know himself, only in this way does he become himself," Pope Benedict stated.

Mary, he said, shows us what it is to have a "listening heart." In Luke's gospel, the Holy Father pointed out, she is presented as a woman who is "immersed in the Word of God, listens to the Word... holds it in her heart.

"In listening she conceived the eternal word, gave her flesh to this word," he emphasized.
As Mary listened to the Word, joined by the communion of saints, said the Holy Father, we are also called to do so, not in isolation, but in the "us" of the Church and the saints.

In his closing comment, the Holy Father reiterated his gratitude to Fr. dal Covolo in helping participants in the exercises to renew their perception of the meaning of the priesthood and to remain aware that priestly consecration "is destined to become a mission."

"So, with renewed courage, we wish now to face our mission," concluded Pope Benedict XVI.

The Holy Father also made reference to the spiritual exercises during the Sunday Angelus. He thanked all people "who were spiritually close" to him and members of the Curia during the week.

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