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Pope Departs for Week of Spiritual Exercises

Fr. Ermes Ronchi to Deliver Reflections on Questions in Gospels to Pontiff and Roman Curia

Yesterday afternoon, Pope Francis departed to participate in his annual Lenten Spiritual Exercises at Casa ‘Gesù Divin Maestro’  (the Divine Master House) in the town of Ariccia near Rome.

For a week, the Holy Father will remain there praying with with members of the Roman Curia.

During his Sunday Angelus address, the Pope asked the faithful to pray for him and those who will be with him participating in the week long retreat. At 4 p.m., he and the Curia members got on their bus and by 6 p.m., they had arrived.

Meditations this year have been entrusted by the Pope to Father Ermes Ronchi of the Order of the Servants of Mary. The preacher will propose a series of reflections around the theme “The bare questions of the Gospel,” from a passage of John’s Gospel: “Jesus turned and saw them following him, and said to them: What are you looking for?…” ( Jn 1, 38).

Fr. Ronchi will pronounce nine reflections in total and they generally will be held twice a day at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. They will all look at answers to questions in the Gospels.
The 10 specific questions to be explored are the following:
  • “What are you looking for?” (John 1:38)
  • “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40)
  • “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again?”   (Matthew 5:13)
  • “But who do you say that I am?” (Luke 9:20)
  • “Then, turning to the woman, he told Simon, ‘Do you see this woman?’” (Luke 7:44)
  •  “How many loaves do you have?” (Mark 6:38, Matthew 15:34)
  • “Straightening up, Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?’” (John 8:10)
  •  “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” (John 20:15)
  •  “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” (John 21:16)
  •  “Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be?’” (Luke 1:34).
The activities of the Pope and members of the Curia will include morning and evening prayer, Eucharistic adoration and prayer.

The retreat will conclude on the morning of Friday, March 11th. Until then, all of the Pope’s activities, including the weekly General Audience are suspended.

Originally, the Spiritual Exercises took place in the Vatican, but Pope Francis moved them to the retreat house outside of Rome.

About Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is a Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, at times from the papal flight, and has done television and radio commentary, including for Vatican Radio and BBC. She is a contributor to National Catholic Register, UK Catholic Herald, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside the Vatican, and other Catholic news outlets. She has also collaborated with the Vatican in various projects, including an internship at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and is a collaborator with NBC Universal, NBC News, Euronews, and EWTN. For 'The Other Francis': or

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