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Pope Thanks Preacher of Spiritual Exercises (Full Text)

‘Thank you for being ‘normal.”

Here is a ZENIT working translation of the words of gratitude that the Holy Father Francis expressed this morning to the Preacher of the Spiritual Exercises, Father Giulio Michelini, O.F.M., at the conclusion of the Spiritual Exercises at Ariccia.

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I want to thank you for the good you wished to do to us and for the good you gave us.

First of all, for showing yourself as you are, natural, without an “image face,” – natural, without [being artificial]. With all the baggage of your life: studies, publications, friends, parents, young bothers that you must look after . . . Everything, everything. Thank you for being “normal.”

Then, secondly, I want to thank you for the work you did, for the way you prepared yourself. This signifies responsibility, taking things seriously. And thank you for all this that you have given us. It’s true: there is a mountain of things to meditate, but Saint Ignatius says that when one finds something in the Spiritual Exercises that gives one consolation or desolation, one must stop there and not go ahead. No doubt every one of us has found one or two among all these. And the rest is not wasted; it remains, it will help some other time. And perhaps the most important things, the strongest, say nothing to someone, and perhaps a word, a [little] word says something more . . . As that anecdote of the great Spanish preacher who, after a great, well-prepared homily, was approached by a man, a great public sinner – in tears, asking for confession; he confessed a cataract of sins and tears, sins and tears. The confessor, astonished – because he knew this man’s life – asked: “But, tell me, at what moment did you feel that God was touching your heart? With what word? . . . “ – “When you said: Let’s move to another argument.” [He laughs, they laugh] Sometimes the simplest words are the ones that help us or the more complicated: to each the Lord gives the [right] word.

I thank you for this and I hope you will continue to work for the Church, in the Church, in exegesis, in so many things that the Church entrusts to you, but I hope especially that you are a good Friar.

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

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