Freedom Means Obedience to God, Retreatants Hear

1st Full Day of Spiritual Exercises in the Presence of John Paul II

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 1, 2004 ( The life of Christ shows how full freedom is attained by abandoning oneself to God’s will, John Paul II heard at the first complete day of his annual retreat.

The preacher of the Spiritual Exercises for the Pope and the Roman Curia, Monsignor Bruno Forte, dedicated today’s meditations to the topic «Called to Freedom: Jesus, a History of Freedom.»

«In the life of Jesus, as in every truly human history,» there are «options that orient decisively the whole of life,» Monsignor Forte said in a passage heard on Vatican Radio.

That choice «is called a fundamental option, the meaning of life,» he said. From this option of life, he said, stems the «option of the moment,» that is, the various decisions made in the course of daily life.

These options of daily life, Monsignor Forte said, «produce the lifestyle of a person.»

The monsignor, who is a theologian and president of the School of Theology of Southern Italy, then asked: Was there a fundamental option in Jesus’ life?

«Jesus’ fundamental option can be understood in all his actions,» the preacher said. «Jesus makes us understand that no one is as free as the one who is free of his own freedom.

«The cause of Jesus’ life is God, his Kingdom. And these also help us to understand Jesus’ lifestyle. Jesus’ lifestyle was his poverty and radical freedom, his unconditional trust in his Father, sign of intense love for life and a complete, total trust in God.»

The meditations of the retreat are being held in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel in the Vatican. John Paul II listens in on the meditations from the adjoining St. Lawrence Oratorio.

The retreat, or Spiritual Exercises, will continue until Saturday. The Pope and officials of the Roman Curia will listen to four meditations daily, led by Monsignor Forte. The reflections end every day with the rosary, Eucharistic adoration and Benediction.

The underlying theme of the exercises this year is «Following You, Light of Life.» The Pope has canceled all his public audiences and meetings this week to dedicate himself to prayer.

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