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Pontiff Thanks Retreat Director

Says He Taught Listeners to Elevate Their Hearts

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 5, 2007 ( Benedict XVI thanked Cardinal Giacomo Biffi for directing last week’s spiritual exercises at the Vatican, telling him that “you have truly taught us … to elevate our hearts.”

The Pope addressed these words to Cardinal Biffi, retired archbishop of Bologna, after the final meditation of the spiritual exercises in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel.

He publicly thanked the cardinal for leading the retreat from Feb. 25 to March 3, during which the Holy Father suspended his public meetings.

“During the holy Mass, before the Eucharistic prayer, we respond every day to the invitation ‘Lift up your hearts’ with the words ‘We lift them up to the Lord,'” the Pontiff said.

This response, he continued, is often given as a mere ritual rather than an existential offering.

Addressing the cardinal, Benedict XVI said: “However, you have truly taught us this week to raise, to elevate our hearts toward the invisible, toward true reality. You also gave us the key to respond every day to the challenges of this reality.”

Pull of love

The Pope continued: “During his first conference I realized that in the engravings of my pew, the risen Christ is represented, surrounded by flying angels.

“I believe that these angels can fly because they are not in the gravitational pull of earthly material things but rather in the pull of love from the Resurrected One, and that we could fly if we left the pull of what is material, entering the new gravitational pull toward the love of the Resurrected One.”

The Holy Father added: “You truly helped us come out of the gravitational pull of everyday things and enter into this other pull of the Resurrected One and, thus, to rise on high. For this we give thanks.”

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