"In Praise of thirst"

"In Praise of thirst"

By Fr. Rif’at Bader

Have you ever heard of such praise? In praise of thirst? This week, Pope Francis along with the entire Vatican prelates went to Casa Santa Marta for a week of spiritual exercises as has been the case on the first week of the Lenten season. But, since the election of Pope Francis, the spiritual exercises have been held outside the Vatican and not within it as has been the case for several years. The leader of the spiritual exercise, Father José Tolentino de Mendonca, chose a strange theme for the spiritual exercises, which is profound in significance, namely "In Praise of thirst".

Portuguese priest and poet Fr. Jose Tolentino de Mendonca, who is entrusted to the 2018 Lenten retreat, was born in born in December 1965 on the island of Madeira and was ordained to the priesthood in 1990. In addition to being an award-winning poet, he serves vice-rector of the Catholic University of Lisbon and consultor of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Fr. Jose chose the theme of thirst owing to its importance and profound significance. In this regard, he does not glorify man's normal and physical thirst for water, but rather refers to a sublime issue and basic values particularly the feeling of thirst to the love of God, as once this love spreads among all people, they turn to love one another and to maintain cordial relations.

This week, Fr. Jose will make ten presentations, in the presence of the Pope, touching on the issue of spiritual thirst. On the first day he talked about Lord Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob. Today he spoke about a verse in the Book of Revelation: “Let the one who thirsts come”. The other issues on the agenda include the meaning of thirst, the thirst for nothing, the thirst for Christ, tears and thirst, and the beatification of thirst. He also reveals how Jesus Christ wants to quench our thirst with living water, namely Himself.

The Spiritual Exercises is held at Casa Divin Maestro in Ariccia, southwestern Rome. According to the website zenith.org, Fr. Jose says: “We drink from many springs and still we get thirsty over and over again, yet Lord Jesus realizes the problem relevant to our persistent thirst and says, “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.”

O man of today, who confusingly keeps moving from one spring to the other, come and drink from this pure spring that supplies you with “genuine water" where you do not feel thirsty again. Address the Lord loudly and say: “O Lord, come, and quench my thirst from Your pure springs. I am tired of moving from one place to another seeking to quench my thirst. My thirst will never be quenched unless my confused heart settles in you”.

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