Pope Francis' Address to Italian Federation of Spiritual Exercises (FIES)

Francis received in audience — in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Vatican Palace –, the participants in the Assembly of the Italian Federation of Spiritual Exercises (FIES), on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its foundation.

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After the greeting of FIES’ President, Monsignor Giovanni Scanavino, the Pope gave the following address to those present, which we translate below.

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Eminence, Excellency,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I meet with you gladly on the occasion of your anniversary. I greet the President, I greet him and also thank him for his words. I greet the Counselors, the Delegates and all those present.

This important anniversary gives you the propitious occasion for an evaluation, to rethink your history, to recall its origins and to read the new signs of the times. Therefore, it is good to recall the objective of the Federation, which is “to make the Spiritual Exercises known, understood as a intense experience of God, in a climate of listening to the Word directed to an ever more total conversion and donation to Christ and to the Church” (Article 2).

The theme you chose for your Assembly: “Enamored of spiritual beauty to spread the fragrance of Christ” (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:14), expresses the conviction proposed by the Spiritual Exercises, which means to invite to an experience of God, of His love and of His beauty. He who lives the Exercises in a genuine way experiences the attraction, the fascination of God, and returns renewed, transfigured to ordinary life, to the ministry, to daily relations, bearing within him the perfume of Christ.

The men and women of today need to encounter God, to know Him “not by the hearing of the ear (cf. Job 42:5). Your service is altogether oriented to this, and you do it offering space and time for intense listening of His Word in silence and in prayer. Privileged places for such a spiritual experience are the Houses of Spirituality, directed to this end, supported and furnished with appropriate personnel. I encourage the Pastors of the different communities to take care that House of Exercises are not lacking, where well-formed agents and qualified preachers, gifted with doctrinal and spiritual quality, are true teachers of the spirit. However, we must never forget that the protagonist of the spiritual life is the Holy Spirit. He sustains every initiative of ours of goodness and of prayer.

Dear friends, a good course of Spiritual Exercises contributes to renew one who participates in them in unconditional adherence to Christ, and helps to understand that prayer is the irreplaceable means of union with Him crucified: pone me iuxta te! I thank you for the precious service that you render the Church, so that the practice of the Spiritual Exercises is spread, supported and appreciated. May Our Lady assist you always in this work. For my part, I ask you to pray for me, and I invoke upon you all an abundance of heavenly blessings.

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
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