Pope's Spiritual Exercises Focusing on Communion

Congolese Cardinal Speaks of His Meditations for the Curia

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 28, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Communion with God, as explained in the First Letter of Saint John, is the central theme of the Lenten spiritual exercises under way in the Vatican.

Until Saturday, Benedict XVI and the members of the Roman Curia are gathering in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel of the apostolic palace to follow the three daily meditations offered by Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, Archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

As is usual, in this week all the Pope’s commitments are suspended, including the Wednesday general audience.

According to Vatican Radio, the sole media outlet authorized to record the spiritual exercises, Cardinal Monsengwo explained that it is communion with God, from whom the Church obtains «mercy» and a «loving guide.»

Interviewed by Alessandro De Carolis of Vatican Radio, the archbishop of Kinshasa explained that «St. John gives much attention to communion in the Church, whether communion of the faithful with the Apostles, or of the faithful with God and of the Apostles with God.»

«It is an interesting topic that is always valid because within this topic we talk about all the problems that the primitive Church encountered and that we can encounter today,» commented the cardinal.


Cardinal Monsengwo Pasinya referred to the rupture of communion in the Church: a rupture of communion due to a lack of faith; a rupture of communion because of the lack of charity; a rupture of faith because the teaching of the Apostles is not followed.

In this regard he noted that «at the beginning of the Church there were persons that did not believe in Jesus, just as today there are persons who do not believe in Jesus: they do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah, they do not believe that Jesus became incarnate.»

Then John began to contact those who did not believe that Jesus had come and he said: «They were among us, but they left.»

According to the cardinal, «also today we have communities that were with us and have left: all those small communities that are called by us ‘churches of the awakening,’ or fundamentalists, etc., all this reality is touched upon in Saint John’s text.»

«Who finally,» added the cardinal, «begins to talk about faith in Jesus Christ, about communion with God and, in the meantime, gives the criteria so as to be in communion with God. Hence, we today are interested in seeing these things again.»

To the question on the way in which the words of the Letter of Saint John are interwoven with the topics of Lent, the archbishop of Kinshasa replied: «Lent is, practically, a going to the desert with Jesus to be closer to God. Where the Lord conquered the devil, we also must conquer. Where Israel, in the desert, was conquered by the devil, we also must avoid being conquered by the devil. Hence, this is the raison d’etre of Lent: the fact that it helps us to live more intensely communion with God. Communion with God, then, in the heart of Lent, when the text of the Letter states: ‘You conquered thanks to the anointing of the Spirit, thanks to the Word of God that you received in Baptism.'»

Responding to a question about the Lenten Message for this year, in which Pope Benedict XVI stresses very much the aspect of concrete charity, Cardinal Monsengwo Pasinya concluded: «The Pope’s appeal, to us, is profoundly real: when one is in Africa and one sees the poverty, the misery, the wars, all the chaos that exists, one cannot fail to think of this. That is why we accepted without doubt the Pope’s Message: because it fits our reality.»

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