Sunday, June 11, 2017
(As we know, the wind is a sign and an image of the Holy Spirit. In the wind – that in this moment is so powerfully blowing– I like to see a prophetic sign of the generous presence and action of the Holy Spirit upon our Retreat Center, which now we are going to inaugurate…)
Dear Bishop Grecco,
Dear Director and Staff of this beautiful Retreat Centre
Dear Representatives of the First Nations
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
How wonderful to be with all of you on the occasion of the Grand Opening of Our Lady of Hope Retreat Centre. I commend you, dear Bishop Grecco as well as all who have lent their enthusiastic support to this endeavor, for an undertaking calculated to do so much good for the people of the Diocese of Charlottetown and beyond. We recall with gratitude the benefactor whose generosity made this work possible as well as the many prayers that ensured that this day would finally come. It was an inspired decision to direct resources to what will become an integral part of the life of this Diocesan Church and as the very mission statement of the Retreat Centre indicates, will enrich the lives of Catholics and non-Catholics alike, offering a prayerful environment for personal, spiritual and faith formation. Indeed, if ever there was need of such a facility and resource then it is today. In the cacophony of our world where we sometimes confuse truth and wisdom with volume and noise, value and fruitfulness with hyperactivity, people need just such a place where they can find solitude and rest, spiritual refreshment and renewal.
I noted that upon entry into the Retreat Centre one is greeted by the statue of St. Kateri Tekakwitha. Indeed, I think that from Saint Kateri and from our brothers and sisters of the First Nations we can learn to value and esteem silence and solitude. Let us not forget that if in the beginning, from the side of the Creator, there was the Word through whom all things came into being (cf. Jn 1,3), that Word who became flesh (cf. Jn 1,14) bringing us redemption, it is clear that from the side of we the creatures, at the beginning of our history of salvation there must be the silence: a silence that listens, that welcomes, and lets us be filled by God’s life and grace.
In fact, every human action, to be effective in the spirit of the Gospel, cannot count only on itself, but must rely on the intervention of God, who, with His grace, anticipates, accompanies and brings to completion our initiative (Cf. Acts 17:28). For this reason, the apostle Paul writes: ‘For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work’ (Phil 2: 13). We can therefore see the reason why prayer – the indispensable premise to all our enterprises – is the first and most effective form of action.
Consequently, the indispensable point of departure for every good work is to submit oneself, with filial trust, ‘to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us’ (Eph 3:20).
Relying on this theological basis, the spiritual masters are unanimous in contending that contemplation is the true mother of every evangelically fruitful act. That is why saints in the Church build wonderful works that remain. But, this assumption, unfortunately, also explains why works done with good intent, but without evangelical soul, remain as dead and therefore sterile, causing disappointment and sadness.
The Our Lady of Hope Retreat Centre is a place to let God – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – help us, to let God enrich us with his life and light, with his wisdom and grace, and so give value and strength, truth and fruitfulness to our human projects and enterprises. It is what did our Lady, the Virgin Mary, with her “Yes” to the will of God, certifying for us the hope that “nothing is impossible to God” (cf. Lk 1, 37-38).
On this happy occasion of the Official Opening of Our Lady of Hope Retreat Centre, I bring the greetings and affection of Pope Francis who time and time again is exhorting the Church to an ongoing renewal. In his name, I am pleased to convey to you dear Bishop Grecco, to the Director and Staff of the Retreat Centre and to all the people of your Diocese, the Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of renewed peace and joy in the Lord.