Pope and Curia prepare for annual Lenten spiritual exercises
Pope Benedict XVI / Cardinal Francis Arinze
Pope Benedict XVI / Cardinal Francis Arinze

.- The Pope and Roman Curia are set to begin their annual spiritual exercises on March 1, the first Sunday of Lent.  This year, the retreat will be preached by Cardinal Francis Arinze and will focus on the theme, “The priest meets Jesus and follows Him.”

Although the annual retreat has taken place since 1929, it has only been since the pontificate of Paul VI that the exercises were conducted during the first week of Lent.

The retreat will be lead by Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and will begin at 6 p.m. on Sunday, March 1 with Eucharistic exposition, the celebration of Vespers, an introductory meditation, adoration and Eucharistic blessing. Over the following days the rhythm of the retreat will consist of praying the Liturgy of the Hours followed by periods of meditation: the celebration of Lauds and meditation at 9:00 a.m.; the celebration of Terce and meditation at 10:15 a.m.; meditation at 5 p.m.; and Vespers, adoration and a Eucharistic blessing at 5:45 p.m.

In keeping with tradition, the retreat will take place is the "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace and will conclude on Saturday, March, 7 with the celebration of Lauds and a closing meditation.

During the retreat all papal audiences will be canceled, including the weekly general audience on Wednesday, March 4.

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