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Monday, March 5, 2012


Vatican City, 3 March 2012 (VIS) - This morning Benedict XVI and the Roman Curia concluded their annual Lenten spiritual exercises. The meditations this year were guided by Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, who focused on the theme of: "the communion of Christians with God".

At the close the Holy Father, speaking in name of everyone who had participated in the retreat, addressed some words of thanks to the cardinal for having guided them "with great exegetical competence and spiritual and pastoral experience", and for having included stories and examples into his meditations "which helped us and brought us joy". The Pope made particular mention of a story involving a friend of the cardinal who, while in a coma, had had the impression of being in a dark tunnel at the end of which he saw light and heard music. "It seems to me", Pope Benedict said, "that this could be a parable for our own lives. Often we find ourselves in a dark tunnel in the dead of night, but, thanks to the faith, in the end we see light and hear music. We see the beauty of God, of earth and sky, of the Creator and the creature, and so it is true that in hope we are saved".

The Holy Father has also written a letter to Cardinal Monsengwo Pasinya thanking him for his service. "Commenting upon certain passages from the First Letter of St. John, you guided us on a journey of rediscovery of the mystery of communion, of which we are part by virtue of our Baptism. Thanks also to this itinerary you so wisely prepared, the silence of prayer of these days, and particularly the Eucharistic adoration, were filled with profound gratitude to God for the great love He has given us, the love with which He binds us to Himself in a filial relationship".

"For me, one particular cause for joy was to see, venerable brother, in your presence and your bearing, the specific witness of faith of the Church which believes, hopes and loves on the African continent. Her spiritual heritage is a great treasure for all the People of God, and for the whole world, especially in view of the new evangelisation. As a son of the Church in Africa, you enabled us to experience once again that exchange of gifts which is one of the most beautiful aspects of ecclesial communion, in which different geographical and cultural backgrounds find a way to express themselves harmoniously in the unity of the mystical Body".

The Pope concludes his letter by imparting an apostolic blessing upon both the cardinal and the priests and faithful entrusted to his pastoral care.

As of today the Holy Father resumes his normal activities. Tomorrow he is due to visit the Roman parish of "San Giovanni Battista de La Salle al Torrino", where he will preside at Mass.

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