Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, addressed a message — dated 23 February — to various monasteries of contemplative life around the world inviting them to pray in this particular moment in the life of the Church. The following is the English text of the message.
Reverend Mother, Reverend Father,
I write to you as the whole Church anxiously follows the final days of the luminous pontificate of His Holiness Benedict XVI and awaits the arrival of the successor whom the Cardinals gathered in conclave and guided by the Holy Spirit will choose, after discerning together the signs of the times of the Church and the world.
“Dear brothers and sisters…The Lord is calling me to "climb the mountain", to devote myself even more to prayer and meditation. But this does not mean abandoning the Church, indeed, if God is asking me to do this, it is so I can continue to serve the Church with the same dedication and the same love with which I have done thus far, but in a way that is better suited to my age and my strength”. "We will always be close in prayer!".
This was Pope Benedict XVI’s parting message on Sunday, during his last Angelus address. At noon the canons sounded from the Janiculum hill and the great bells of St Peter’s basilica rang out. And as the curtains were drawn from his study windows and the red papal banner unfurled, the ocean of pilgrims waiting below erupted. Emer McCarthy reports:
Pope Benedict on Saturday concluded the “spiritual exercises” which mark the beginning of Lent at the Vatican.
This year’s reflections were offered by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
At the end of the retreat, Pope Benedict addressed those who had participated with him in the Lenten retreat. Taking his cue from Cardinal Ravasi’s theme “the art of believing, the art of praying,” Pope Benedict reflected on the relationship of beauty to the truth. “Truth and beauty,” he said, “go together: beauty is the seal of truth.”
Nonetheless, the Holy Father said, we recognise that the goodness of Creation is permanently contradicted by evil in the world. “Evil,” he said, “always desires to spoil creation, to contradict God, and to make truth and beauty unrecognisable.” But it is precisely into this world, marked by evil, that the Incarnate Logos enters, crowned with thorns, so that, “in the suffering figure of the Son of God, we can begin to see the most profound beauty of our Creator and Redeemer. In the silence of the ‘dark night,’ we can nevertheless hear the Word.”
Spiritual Exercises in the Vatican in the presence of the Pontif
In our suffering and dying in total solidarity with Christ, a seed of life has been planted, a seed of resurrection and the beginning of redemption. Easter reveals this radical turn of suffering and human death. The third meditation of the Spiritual Exercises was given by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, to the Roman Curia on Wednesday afternoon, 20 February. Cardinal Ravasi spoke about a theme which sooner or later hits home for each of us: “the suffering man”.
"I tell you: you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church.... I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Mt 16:18-19). In themselves, the three metaphors that Jesus uses are crystal clear: Peter will be the rocky foundation on which he will build the edifice of the Church; he will have the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven to open or close it to people as he sees fit; lastly, he will be able to bind or to loose, in the sense of establishing or prohibiting whatever he deems necessary for the life of the Church. It is always Christ's Church, not Peter's. Thus, vivid images portray what the subsequent reflection will describe by the term: "primacy of jurisdiction".