Pontiff's Address at End of Lenten Retreat

«Only in the ‘We’ of the Church Can We Truly Hear the Word»

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 28, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the words Benedict XVI spoke this Saturday to those present in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel in the Vatican at the conclusion of the Retreat preached by Salesian Father Enrico Dal Covolo to the Pope and the Roman curia.

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Dear Brothers,
Dear Father Enrico,

In the name of all of us present here I would like to say thank you with my whole heart to you, Father Enrico, for this retreat, for the impassioned and very personal way in which you guided our path toward Christ, on path of renewal of our priesthood.

You chose as your starting point, as an always present background, as destination — we saw it just now — Solomon’s prayer for «a heart that hears.» In truth, it seems to me that here the whole Christian vision of man is recapitulated. Man is not perfect in himself, man has need of relation — he is a being in relation. It is not his «cogito» that can «cogitare» the whole of reality. He needs to listen, to listen to the other, above all the Other — with a capital «O» — who is God. Only in this way does he know himself, only in this way does he become himself.

From my place here I always saw the Mother of the Redeemer, the «Sedes Sapietiae,» the living seat of wisdom, with Wisdom incarnate in her womb. And as we saw, St. Luke presents Mary precisely as a woman who listens from the heart, who is immersed in the Word of God, who listens to the Word, who meditates («synballein») on it, composes and treasures it, who carries it in her heart. The Fathers of the Church say that in the moment of the conception of the eternal Word in the womb of the Virgin the Holy Spirit entered into Mary through her ear. In listening she conceived the eternal Word, she gave her flesh to this Word. And thus she tells what it means to have a heart that listens.

Mary is surrounded here by the fathers and the mothers of the Church, by the communion of saints. And so we see and we have understood during these days that we cannot truly hear the Word in the isolated «I» but only in the «we» of the Church, in the «we» of the communion of saints.

And you, dear Father Enrico, have shown us, have provided a voice for five exemplary figures of the priesthood, beginning with Ignatius of Antioch and continuing to the dear and venerable Pope John Paul II. Thus we have truly again perceived what it means to be a priest, to become priests more and more.

You have also stressed that consecration is for mission, it is destined to become mission. During these days we have penetrated our consecration more deeply with God’s help. Thus, with new courage, we would like now to take up our mission. May the Lord help us. Thank you for your help, Father Enrico.

[Translation by ZENIT]
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