Pope's Lenten retreat: cities need to rediscover their universal vocation

Venerable Giorgio La Pira

Venerable Giorgio La Pira

Source: Vatican Media/GL/ICN

Pope Francis and the Roman Curia, who are on their Lenten retreat at Casa Divin Maestro in Arricia, heard the second meditation yesterday on the need for cities to rediscover their universal vocation to be the reflection of the heavenly Jerusalem on earth - to be spaces for reconciliation, peace and encounter.

Abbot Bernardo Francesco Maria Gianni, delivered the meditation drawing much from the mayor of the Italian city of Florence, *Venerable Giorgio La Pira, who believed in God's dream that a city modelled on the heavenly Jerusalem was possible on earth.

This dream or plan, Abbot Gianni explained, concerns not just the city of Florence of La Pira but all the cities of the world understood as a "space for reconciliation, peace and encounter", in contrast to a world that is too often condemned to despair, resignation and darkness that are deemed invincible.

The Benedictine monk also spoke about the "universal mystery" that leads each city to rediscover its true vocation and to reflect the heavenly Jerusalem, where people live cohesively, animated by ardent desires and great hopes.

Far from being an irrational, dreamlike and meaningless digression, he explained, this dream is so concrete that it opens the horizon to the action of God. Revisiting and renewing cities top-down, as La Pira wrote, thus becomes fundamental for the good of the people and of political, technical and economic structures.

This is the contemplative outlook of faith, that seeks to implement the history of Christ in the world, despite every effort to break the harmony, beauty and splendour of the city of God.

Recalling Giorgio La Pira and the Italian poet Mario Luzi, the Benedictine monk said that this extraordinary dream calls for the involvement of not only of civil structures but also and primarily the action of the Church so that the God's dream for all men may be triumphant and concrete.

God's dream has already had admirable achievements in past centuries and it will have even more admirable achievements in the course of future centuries. This is because the design of the Holy Spirit never remains a distant and ineffective model or an ideal but works in the lives of men as a "transfiguring yeast".

Abbot Gianni said that this is a call to witness to the Holy Spirit whose flame is the only thing that can stop the "devastating fire of the world". Through prayer, progress, beauty, work, and peace and testimonies such as concrete gestures, trust in God and dialogue of love, can restore to every city its universal mission without destruction and war.

In conclusion, the retreat preacher talked about the need to behold the city with a gaze of faith that discovers God who dwells in its homes, streets and squares. God lives among the citizens promoting solidarity, brotherhood, the desire for goodness, truth and justice, Abbot Gianni said, adding that He does not hide Himself from those who seek Him with a sincere heart.

*Giorgio La Pira (9 January 1904 - 5 November 1977) - was an Italian Roman Catholic politician who served as the Mayor of Florence twice (1950-1956 and 1960-1964). He also served as deputy of the Christian Democrats and participated in the assembly that wrote the Italian Constitution following World War II. In his public and private life he was a tireless champion of peace and human rights who worked for the betterment of the poor and disenfranchised. La Pira belonged to the Third Order of Saint Dominic. From 1934 until his death he lived in the San Marco complex.

He was a staunch advocate for peace and made several trips to the East to places such as China and Russia which were sometimes deemed to be controversial in the Cold War era. Those trips were undertaken to discuss peace ventures and ends to conflict with La Pira also prioritizing ecumenism as a reason for visiting Moscow where he often met with members of the Russian Orthodox Church.

La Pira's cause for sainthood opened in the 1980s and he was a Servant of God. He was given the title Venerable on 5 July 2018 when Pope Francis confirmed that he had lived a life of heroic virtue.

Read more about Giorgio Lapira here: www.giorgiolapira.org/en

Tags: Spiritual Exercises, Lenten Retreat, Abbot Bernardo Francesco Maria Gianni,

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