TO THE MONKS OF THE BENEDICTINE CONFEDERATION
Thursday, April 19, 2018
Reverend Abbot Primate,
Dear Fathers 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 kind words. I would like to express my whole consideration and gratitude for the important contribution that the Benedictines have made to the life of the Church, in every part of the world, for almost fifteen hundred years. In this celebration of the Jubilee of the Benedictine Confederation we want to remember, in a special way, the commitment of Pope Leo XIII, who in 1893 wanted to unite all the Benedictines by founding a common house of study and prayer, here in Rome. We thank God for this inspiration, because this has led the Benedictines of the whole world to live a deeper spirit of communion with the See of Peter and among them.
Benedictine spirituality is renowned for its motto: Ora et labora et lege. Prayer, work, study. In the contemplative life, God often announces his presence in an unexpected way. With the meditation of the Word of God in the lectio divina, we are called to remain in religious listening to his voice in order to live in constant and joyful obedience. Prayer generates in our hearts, willing to receive the amazing gifts that God is always ready to give us, a spirit of renewed fervor that leads us, through our daily work, to seek the sharing of the gifts of God's wisdom with others: with the community, with those who come to the monastery for their search for God ("quaerere Deum"), and with those who study in your schools, colleges and universities. Thus an always renewed and invigorated spiritual life is generated.
Some characteristic aspects of the Easter liturgical season, which we are living, such as the announcement and the surprise, the prompt response, and the heart willing to receive the gifts of God, are actually part of the Benedictine life of every day. Saint Benedict asks you in his Rule to "put absolutely nothing before Christ" (No. 72), so that you will always be vigilant, today, ready to listen to him and follow him docilely (see here, Prologue). Your love for the liturgy, as a fundamental work of God in monastic life, is essential above all for yourselves, allowing you to be in the living presence of the Lord; and it is precious for the whole Church, which over the centuries has benefited as a spring water that irrigates and fecundates, nourishing the capacity to live, personally and in community, the encounter with the risen Lord.
If St. Benedict was a luminous star - as St. Gregory the Great calls it - in his time marked by a profound crisis of values and institutions, this happened because he was able to discern between the essential and the secondary in spiritual life, placing the center firmly in the center. Lord. May you, his children in our time, practice discernment to recognize what comes from the Holy Spirit and what comes from the spirit of the world or the spirit of the devil. Discernment that "does not require only a good capacity for reasoning and common sense, [but] is also a gift that must be asked of the Holy Spirit. Without the wisdom of discernment we can easily transform ourselves into puppets at the mercy of the tendencies of the moment "(Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et exsultate, 166-167).
In this age, when people are so busy that they do not have enough time to listen to God's voice, your monasteries and convents become like oases, where men and women of all ages, backgrounds, cultures and religions can discover the beauty of silence and rediscover oneself, in harmony with creation, allowing God to restore a proper order in their lives. The Benedictine charism of welcome is very precious for the new evangelization, because it gives you the opportunity to welcome Christ in every person who arrives, helping those who seek God to receive the spiritual gifts He has in store for each of us.
Moreover, the Benedictines have always recognized the commitment to ecumenism and interreligious 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 it. Indeed, there is no opposition between the contemplative life and the service of others. The Benedictine monasteries - both in cities and far from them - are places of prayer and hospitality. Your stability is also important for people who come to look for you. Christ is present in this meeting: he is present in the monk, in the pilgrim, in the needy.
I am grateful for your service in education and training, here in Rome and in many parts of the world. The Benedictines are known to be "a school of the service of the Lord". I urge you to giving the students, together with the necessary knowledge and knowledge, the tools so that they can grow in the wisdom that drives them to continually seek God in their lives; that same wisdom that will lead them to practice mutual understanding, because we are all children of God, brothers and sisters, in this world that has so much thirst for peace. In conclusion, dear brothers and sisters, I hope that the celebration of the Jubilee for the anniversary of the foundation of the Benedictine Confederation is a fruitful opportunity to reflect on the search for God and his wisdom, and on how to transmit his perennial wealth more effectively to future generations. Through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, in communion with the heavenly Church and with the saints Benedict and Scholastica, I invoke the Apostolic Blessing on each one. And I ask you, please, to continue to pray for me. Thank you.