KRAKOW, Poland, FEB. 8, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Italian archbishop who preached spiritual exercises to Pope John Paul II in 2004 journeyed to the Polish Pope’s homeland to preach the exercises for some of John Paul II’s countrymen.
Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto visited Krakow, Poland, as an event for the Year for Priests. He preached spiritual exercises Jan. 29-31 to some 100 religious and diocesan priests.
The well-known dogmatic theologian and author proposed to the retreatants the practice of Lectio Divina, which he also reflected on with John Paul II during the 2004 spiritual exercises in the Vatican.
Archbishop Forte spoke on the centrality of the Word of God in the life of the believer and in priestly ministry. In his introductions to personal prayer, he invited retreatants to look at the life of important personalities of the Bible. In a climate of silence and personal prayer the retreatants were submerged in the experience of faith of Abraham, Moses, Mary, St. Paul and St. John.
The archbishop invited the priests to deepen their relationship with God and their passion to live faithfully their priestly vocation.
The present age was described by the Italian archbishop as “loneliness amid the multitude.” Many, especially young people, are spending long hours surfing the Internet, convinced that they are speaking with others and yet, he contended, they are alone, without true communication.
But the Word of God, he said, is good news for all the lonely, as the Word of God is a Person. He wishes to touch the human heart and to enter into it.
“Do we feel the warmth of the Word when preaching it to others? “Does the Word of God inflame our hearts?,” asked the archbishop. “The preaching of the Word cannot be the repetition of dead words, but a fire that burns and sets others on fire. If the words we speak do not set on fire the hearts of the listeners, it is a sign that we do not preach the Word of God, but our words.
“We do not preach ‘something’ but we preach ‘Someone.’ Because Christianity is not an ideology, it is not a doctrine but a Person, the Living One, who wishes to meet with us. We, priests, like believers, are the poor atheists that every day make an effort to believe.”
Who is Jesus
Each conference ended with questions on which the priests could reflect and answer in personal prayer. For example: “For what do I live? Who is Jesus really for me? Is he the Living One, whom I have met and with whom I wish to be? Is Jesus the only reason for my life? Am I ready to say ‘yes’ to him once and for all?”
Archbishop Forte invited the retreatants to a profound reflection: “Faith isn’t an intellectual game. Faith means to lose everything for him. Faith consists in loving Jesus above all things and in showing affection for him.”
“One can live without knowing why, but one cannot live without knowing for whom,” he stressed.
At the end of the retreat, the archbishop — who is also a member of the Roman Curia (the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and Pontifical Council for Culture) — answered the priests’ questions on the Bible, on preparation for the priesthood and pastoral dilemmas, and on current events in the life of the Church.
“What do you expect from the priests of your diocese?” asked one of the retreatants.
“Love,” answered the archbishop, “above all, love of Jesus and of the people.”