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2020.03.01 Casa Divin Maestro inizio Esercizi Spirituali Spiritual Exercises at the Casa Divin Maestro  (Vatican Media)

Papal retreat: Respond to God with faith and prayer

Retreat director Fr Pietro Bovati continues to reflect on the lessons we can learn from the story of the Exodus from Egypt.

By Vatican News

Jesuit Father Pietro Bovati continued to reflect on the Old Testament account of the Exodus of the Hebrew people from the land of Egypt.

Day 4 afternoon: the journey through the desert

Guiding the spiritual exercises for the Roman Curia on Wednesday afternoon, Fr Bovati said the story of the journey through the desert highlights God’s initiative in salvation history, but does not sufficiently emphasize the importance of the necessary response from people. God’s work of salvation involves the free cooperation of men and women.

In the biblical account, Fr Bovati said the desert is a “figure” or symbol of life. In this life, we sometimes face trials; our response must be one of listening, both to God and to the voice of the least among us. This can be seen by the Gospel account of Jesus’ teaching on the final judgment, when, the Lord says, we will be judged on whether or not we have helped those in need.

Day 5 morning: Struggle and prayer

Father Bovati’s theme for the morning session on Thursday was “struggle and prayer”, recalling the figure of Moses praying for the Israelites in battle. This leads to an almost “cinematic” vision of the Church under attack, an attack which must be met with authentic witness and prayer.

“Today is dedicated to meditating on the personal commitment that the Lord requires of each of us”, Fr Bovati said. For priests in particular, the first duty is prayer, following the example of Moses. Prayer is a defence against the persecution experienced by the Church today.

Turning to the Gospel story of Jesus’ healing of a child with a demon, Fr Bovati said that we need faith to resist evil; the disciples, lacking faith, had not been able to cast out the demon. “If the heart does not adhere to the mystery of God [by faith],” Fr Bovati said, prayer is in vain. But he also insisted that even weak prayer, if it is sincere and humble, will be heard by God. 

05 March 2020, 15:36