Cardinal Thanked for "Personal, Sober" Meditations

Pope Salutes Chicago Archbishop Who Led Annual Retreat

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VATICAN CITY, MAR. 11, 2001 ( At the end of his annual retreat, John Paul II thanked the preacher, Cardinal Francis George, for the «personal and sober style» with which he demonstrated the efficacy of the «Gospel Word» in his meditations.

The Pope and his collaborators at the Roman Curia dedicated last week to Cardinal George´s meditations, rooted in St. Luke´s Gospel, which reflected profoundly on the «great topics of conversion, freedom and communion,» to which Christians must be committed.

To illustrate the freedom that results from conversion, John Paul II used the paradoxical expression of a net that releases. The Pope recalled Jesus´ invitation to his disciples to go out to sea and let down their nets for a catch.

«Trusting in the efficacy of Christ´s word, the Church lets down her net in the great ocean of the new millennium that has just begun,» the Pope said. «It is a singular net: Whoever is caught, is freed!»

«Indeed,» he added, «faith in Christ is freedom born from personal conversion, which opens to communion with all men.» Thus, in one short phrase, the Holy Father summarized the 20 meditations preached by the archbishop of Chicago.

Cardinal George concluded the exercises with a meditation on Mary´s «Magnificat,» particularly the joy expressed in that hymn.

It is not a superficial joy that forgets about difficulties, the cardinal said. It is a joy that, freed from the past and from future schemes, lives in the present as «the time and place where God dwells,» he said. «Joy can never be only the result of our personal efforts. It is given to us as it was given to Mary, a free gift.»

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