March 21, 2016

VATICAN CITY - It is tempting to bristle when the faithful ask challenging questions, but those questions are a sign of how seriously people take the faith, says Servite Father Ermes Ronchi.

"It gives me hope to see how, among the people of God, questions continue to grow and no one is content with the same old answers," Ronchi told Pope Francis and senior members of the Roman Curia March 11 during their Lenten retreat at a centre southeast of Rome.

"When everyone silently accepted the word of a priest was it a time of greater faith?" he asked. "I think the opposite is true and even if this means more work for us, it is also an 'alleluia,' a 'finally.'"

Mary's question - "How can this be?" - in response to the Annunciation was Ronchi's focus for the final meditation at the March 6-11 retreat.

While the retreat was private, Vatican Radio and the Vatican newspaper, provided coverage of Ronchi's talks.

"Being perplexed, asking questions is a way of standing before the Lord with all of one's human dignity," the Servite said. Like Mary, "I accept the mystery, but at the same time I use my intelligence."

In a reflection March 10, Ronchi looked at the risen Jesus' words to Mary Magdalene outside the empty tomb, "Woman, why are you weeping?"

"The first words of the Risen One in the garden on Easter," he said, "have an extraordinary tenderness: 'Tell me about your tears; they are more important to me than anything.'"

The preacher said "God's archive, his memory," is not full of lists of people's sins, but of their tears and suffering.

Stopping, listening and touching those in pain was Jesus' response to tears and must be the response of his followers, Ronchi said.