Vatican News
Pope Francis at his annual Lenten spiritual exercises. Pope Francis at his annual Lenten spiritual exercises.  (ANSA)

Pope’s spiritual exercises: uprooting indifference

Pope Francis and his collaborators who are on their annual Lenten spiritual exercises, March 10-15, heard a meditation Tuesday morning, on eradicating indifference and diseases from our cities and restoring beauty to them.

By Robin Gomes

Retreat preacher, Italian Benedictine Abbot, Bernardo Francesco Maria Gianni, reflected on the need to uproot indifference that shields us from our responsibility towards others by seeking the beauty and balance that come from being loved by God and loving Him in return. 

Preaching his 4th reflection on the theme, “Today’s infamy, disgrace and indifference,” the abbot said that we are called to look at the wounds of cities that are complex and marked by injustices of all kinds.  To do so, we need to let reality prevail over ideas, and not vice versa, as Pope Francis says. 


The preacher spoke about indifference, one of the three signs of evil that often paralyzes our hearts in a subtle way and blurs our eyes.  Indifference, he said, acts as a shield, preventing us from our responsibility of others.  It is against the evangelical passion that the Lord wants to ignite with the power of His Holy Spirit in our hearts.

The action of the Church and of men and women of good will, the abbot explained, really becomes this fruitfulness generated by the obedient and passionate listening to the Gospel of life of Jesus.  With the holiness of the present times, those embers can truly set ablaze the light of hope in the night of the cities of our world.

The temptation of indifference, that affects also churchmen, the abbot noted, can be overcome by bringing and incarnating the Word of God in our cities at every cost. 

Beauty and proportion

For this, the preacher proposed the medicines of beauty and proportion. One needs to seek a balance between man and himself, and between man and things.   This means renouncing our illusion of being at the centre and opening our eyes to reality to see the light and listen to the true silence.

It is not we but Christ who is the centre of history and space, to whom we must conform ourselves, which gives pleasure to the Father.  The result of a good Lenten journey, the abbot said, is to let the hand of God restore our beauty, which is mere clay, fragile and poor, needing God's breath. If you entrust yourselves to God totally, Abbot Gianni said, you will become His perfect artwork.

12 March 2019, 16:14