Pope Francis has been on retreat this week, along with the members of the Roman Curia. Continuing a practice the pope started during his first year on the chair of St. Peter, he and his collaborators are spending the week at a retreat house in the Roman hillside town of Arriccia. Carmelite Father Bruno Secondin led the week-long spiritual exercises. The theme: “Servants and Prophets of the Living God.”
Below is part of Fr. Secondin’s meditation from the second day of the retreat.
To undertake a real Lenten journey of conversion, we must first rediscover the “deepest truth about ourselves, come out in the open” and “remove every mask, every ambiguity." With this strong reminder to look back honestly at our history, the Carmelite Bruno Secondin concluded the second day, Monday, 23 February, of the Lenten spiritual exercises for the Pope and the Roman Curia in Ariccia.
Following the experience of Elijah taken from the Scriptures, the preacher described the “hiding” from which the prophet was called by the Lord, that hiding in which we often cloak ourselves and which many times is masked by some kind of exterior religiosity, devoid of the courage that comes with truth.
After having the courage to come out in the open, to say the truth about ourselves, to remove the mask that numbs our consciences, we must begin to walk on the “paths of freedom” and eliminate those attitudes that make us “swing from one side to another” in order to make room for God. Fr. Secondin continued his reflection on this point Tuesday morning, 24, inviting those on retreat to consider the particular choices of the Church in our time: “Do we deal with the important things in small circles or do we know how to have a clear strategy that takes the system by surprise?”. How much suffering, for example, “have certain sensitive subjects caused us”, Fr Secondin said, then adding: “We must not hide our scandals” and it is important that “victims of injustice be led to healing by recognizing our errors with humility”.
Acknowledging the faults of the Church emerged in another episode as well. Taking inspiration from that terrible act of Elijah who executes the prophets of Baal, the preacher invited all to remember how the Church in her history was capable of acts of violence. “We too burned people, we have killed”, he said. And he stressed that today violence can be expressed in other forms, “even without the sword”, referring to the explosive power of language and modern means of communication: “Sometimes the keyboard kills more than the sword!”.
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