2013-02-22 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict XVI continued his Lenten spiritual exercises on Thursday in the Redemptoris mater chapel of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican. The retreat leader, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, focused his first morning meditation on the phenomenon of human sinfulness, with a view to God’s work of reconciliation, in which human beings are called to cooperate through repentance and acts of penance.
Taking the penitential Psalms 51 and 130 as his guides and principal texts, Cardinal Ravasi explained that, “[I]n biblical spirituality, the classical pair ‘crime and punishment’ are transformed into a trio: ‘Crime, punishment and forgiveness’.” He went on to say, “Sin is an aberration that distances us from God,” a rebellion of the will and a distortion of our very being. Following the teaching of St Paul the Apostle, Cardinal Ravasi explained that, in Christ, God has reconciled us to Himself: He has made an end to rebellion through obedience even unto death, and re-established the way to true human greatness, which is Divine perfection, itself. Our task is in the first to seek and trust in the power of God to forgive our transgressions. Listen:
In his second meditation, titled, “Absence and nothingness”, Cardinal Ravasi focused on the drama of the human person without God. “The absence of God is felt painfully and disturbingly, even by believers,” he said, expounding Psalms 14 and 22. Cardinal Ravasi went on to explain that, “Faith includes absence, silence, bewilderment.” Nevertheless, “Absence is not God’s last word,” he said, citing Psalm 22, which concludes with the astonishing salvific response of God Himself to the anguished cries of His servant, who then proceeds to praise his Saviour, who, “has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; and he has not hid his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.”