By Francesca Merlo
“I would like to thank you, Brother Bernardo, for your help these days”. These are Pope Francis’ opening lines of gratitude, addressed to Brother Bernardo Francesco Maria Gianni, Abbot of Florence’s San Miniato al Monte, who has been leading Pope Francis and his collaborators at the Roman Curia in spiritual exercises over the past week.
The Pope says he was struck by the work put in by Brother Bernardo, “to help us understand that God is always present in humanity”. This work, continues the Pope, helped all those attending the spiritual exercises to “enter, as the Word has done, into the human being” – explaining that this was first done by God, in the Incarnation of the Word “undivided, and unconfused”.
This is the road the Benedictine Monk, paved for the Pope and his collaborators, and Pope Francis acknowledges that now their work “perhaps, is to go forward”, along this path.
Pope Francis thanks brother Bernardo for discussing hope, work and patience with them, which he says, are all virtues which will help to obtain the “memory of the future”. A memory, which the Pope says, “always carries us forward”.
Leading with courage
Pope Francis ends his thanks by saying that he saw in Fr Bernardo, the “same courage the Council fathers had when they signed” the document Gaudium et Spes, a document which he describes as the one which has, perhaps, “encountered the most resistance – even today”.
He explains this though admitting to having felt a little “disorientated” when attending the first of the meditations. “But then”, he concludes, “I understood the message”.