Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Day 8: The Pope's Preacher

Traditionally during the first week of Lent, the Pope and most of the clergy in the Vatican take their annual retreat.  The Holy Father usually picks a priest or bishop with a great gift for the Word.  Benedict himself preached this retreat some ten years ago for John Paul II.  This year the honor fell to Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi who is the head of Pontifical Council on Culture and apparently has an affinity to the music of the late Amy Winehouse (as do I).

Cardinal Ravasi has taken the extraordinary step of tweeting some of the highlights of his meditations on the Psalms which he chose as the focus for the retreat.  Some of these tweets have been inmensely profound and I have posted them sporadically, but I wanted to pick out a few that have caused me to pause and delve deeper into them:

"The word of God irradiates its splendour in the horizon of the conscience, melting our coldness and spreading light and hope."

"We celebrate divine faithfulness despite human infidelity."
And since Cardinal Ravasi is in charge of culture in the Vatican he knows quite well what we are exposed to in our society and he offered this telling reflection during his second meditation in which he observed that the world lives in a superficial atmosphere which prohibits us from thinking big thoughts and posing big questions:
"Just think of the television...We already know all about fashion, about what we should eat, how we should dress, choose, etc. but we no longer have a voice that shows us the path and meaning of this life, especially when it is so fragile, so miserable. That is why it is important to come back again to the great themes. Have the courage to propose great thoughts, I think one of the great problems of today's youth is that they are no longer able to find meaningful answers and so they allow themselves to drift and be swayed by contemporary society".

We must ask big questions and think big thoughts and awaken from the spell that this world constantly has us living under.  What thought can be greater than one that is elevated towards God?  When we cast all things aside, what are we left with?  Our fragile human nature in need of a redemptive God. 

I will continue to retweet and post the Cardinal's tweets throughout the week, but may we follow his promptings, which he is also giving to the Holy Father, and cast off the yoke of the world and rely solely on the love and mercy of God.