Thursday, April 19, 2018

Benedictine Monks visit the Vatican

At noon today (6:00am EDT), in the Clementine Hall at the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father, Pope Francis received in audience the Monks from the Benedictine Confederation, on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the foundation of that Confederation and the laying of the cornerstone for the Primatial Abbey of Saint Anselm in Rome.

Speech of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
for the meeting with Monks from the
Benedictine Confederation

Reverend Abbot Primate,
Dear Father Abbots,
Dear brothers and sisters,

I welcome you on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the foundation of the Benedictine Confederation and I thank the Abbot Primate for his courteous words.  I wish to express all my consideration and recognition for the relevant contributions that the Benedictines have brought to the life of the Church, in every part of the world, for almost fifteen hundred years.  In this celebration of the Benedictine Confederation's Jubilee, I wish to recall, in a special way, the commitment of Pope Leo XIII, who in 1893 desired to unite all Benedictines by establishing a common house of study and prayer here in Rome.  I thank God for this inspiration, for it has brought Benedictines from all over the world to live a more profound spirit of communion with the See of Peter and among yourselves.

The Benedictine spirituality is renown for its motto: Ora et labora et lege.  Prayer, work and study.  In contemplative life, God often announces his presence in an unexpected way.  With meditation on the Word of God in lectio divina, we are called to remain in religious listening to his voice in order to live in constant and joyous obedience.  Prayer generates within our hearts, which are willing to receive the surprising gifts that God is always ready to give us, a spirit of renewed fervour which leads us, through our daily work, to receive and to share of gifts of God's wisdom with others: with the community, with those who come to the monastery in search of God (quaerere Deum), and with those who study in your schools, colleges and universities.  In this way, you motivate a spiritual life that is constantly renewed and reinvigorated.

Some characteristic aspects of the liturgical season of Easter, which we are currently experiencing, such as proclamation and surprise, prompt response and hearts that are disposed to receiving the gifts of God, are actually part of every-day Benedictine life.  In his rule, Saint Benedict asks you to put absolutely nothing before Christ (Rule of Saint Benedict, 72), so that you always remain vigilant, in the present moment, ready to listen to him and to follow him in docility (cf Rule, Prologue, ivi).  Your love for the liturgy, as a fundamental work of God in monastic life, is essential above all for you yourselves, permitting you to stand in the living presence of the Lord; and this is precious for the entire Church, who has benefitted throughout the centuries, like flowing water that irrigates and feeds us, nourishing our capacity to experience, personally and in community, the encounter with the risen Lord.

If Saint Benedict was a shining star - as Saint Gregory the Great referred to him - in his time which was marked by a profound crisis of values and institutions, this happened because he was able to discern between the essential and the secondary aspects of the spiritual life, placing the Lord firmly at the centre of your lives.  May you too, his children in modern day, practice discernment in order to recognize that which comes from the Holy Spirit and that which comes from the spirit of the world and from the spirit of the devil.  Discernment that requires not only a good capacity for reasoning and for common sense, but which is a gift of the Holy Spirit that we must also pray for.  Without the wisdom of discernment, we can easily transform ourselves into puppets at the mercy of current tendencies (Gaudete et exsultate, 166-167).

In this era, where people are so busy that they do not have enough time to listen to God's voice, your monasteries and your convents become oases, where men and women of every age, background, culture and religion can discover the beauty of silence and rediscover themselves, in harmony with creation, allowing God to restore proper order in their lives.  The Benedictine charism of welcome is very precious for the new evangelization, for it gives you an opportunity to welcome Christ in every person who arrives, helping those who are seeking God to receive the spiritual gifts that He has in store for each one of us.

Moreover, the Benedictines have always recognized the commitment to ecumenism and to inter-religious dialogue.  I encourage you to continue in this important work for the Church and for the world, placing your traditional hospitality at the service of these efforts.  In effect, there is no opposition between contemplative life and service to others.  Benedictine monasteries - both within cities and far from them - are places of prayer and welcome.  Your stability is important also for people who come looking for you.  Christ is present in these encounters: he is present in the monk, in the pilgrim, in the need that is identified.

I am grateful to you for your service in the field of education and formation, here in Rome and in many other parts of the world.  Benedictines are recognized as being a school of service to the Lord.  I urge you to give your students, together with the necessary notions and knowledge they require, the instruments they need in order to grow in the wisdom that motivates them to continually seek God in their lives; the same wisdom that will lead them to practice mutual understanding, for we are all children of God, brothers and sisters, in this world that is so thirsty for peace.

In conclusion, dear brothers and sisters, I hope that the celebration of this Jubilee of the anniversary of the Benedictine Confederations foundation is a fruitful occasion for reflection on the quest for God and for his wisdom, and on how to more effectively communicate his perennial wealth to future generations.

Through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, in communion with the heavenly Church and with Saints Benedict and Scolastica, I invoke upon each of you my Apostolic Blessing.  And I ask you please, to continue your prayer for me.  Thank you.

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