Pope's retreat focuses on faces of God and man
By Estefania Aguirre
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi speaks to the Pontifical Council for Culture on Feb. 6, 2013. Credit: Stephen Driscoll/CNA
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi speaks to the Pontifical Council for Culture on Feb. 6, 2013. Credit: Stephen Driscoll/CNA

.- Along with the rest of the Roman Curia, Pope Benedict XVI began his second day of spiritual exercises by reflecting on Psalm 119 and the “light that breaks the darkness, especially in today's culture.”

“The comparison with the Word is essential, it shows us the true scale of values, often calculated only in things, in money, power,” Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi told the Pope Feb. 18 at the Apostolic Palace.

The Italian cardinal focused his meditations for today on Psalms 119, 23 and 19, under the title “At the sources of the Jordan River of the Spirit: God of Grace and the Word.”

“In Psalm 23, there is the sharing of the road – God is the shepherd leading the flock, and at the same time a traveling companion – elements which refer to the value of grace, truth and love,” said the cardinal.

And during this morning’s third meditation, the cardinal poetically described Creation as “a different word of God” that contains “a silent theological music and is a message that knows no sound or echoes words but rather runs through the universe.”

The annual Lenten spiritual exercises began on Sunday evening and will run until Feb. 23, when the Pope will give a short speech. The week’s theme is titled “The art of praying, the art of believing. The face of God and of man in the prayers of Psalms.”

The retreat schedule involves two mediations in the morning and one in the early evening, followed by the celebration of vespers and Eucharistic benediction. The reflections are preached to the Pope and members of his administrative offices, known as the Roman Curia, in the Vatican’s Redemptoris Mater Chapel.

Pope Benedict chose Cardinal Ravasi, president for the Pontifical Council for Culture, to head this year’s Lenten spiritual exercises.

The cardinal, who is frequently named as a potential candidate for being selected as the next Pope, has chosen the Psalms as the subject of his reflections.

Just days before starting the retreat, he told CNA how he felt about leading it.

“On the one hand, I’m excited about this experience because it is the first time that the head of a dicastery speaks to his colleagues as well as to the Pope,” Cardinal Ravasi said Jan. 31.
“On the other hand, I also believe that there is a sort of familiar atmosphere, not just because of the relationship I already had with the Pope before he even became Pope and came to Rome,” he said.

“But I also think that I would like to propose again the big founding topic through a single book, the Book of Psalms. Because in the end, prayer reveals the true face of God and the true face of man,” he added.

Tags: Pope Benedict, Lent

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