Cloistered monasteries are like the "green lungs" of a city -- beneficial for all, including those who don't even know those religious houses exist, says Benedict XVI.
Before reciting the midday Angelus with several thousand people gathered today in St. Peter's Square, the Pope recalled that this Tuesday the Church will celebrate "pro Orantibus" Day, dedicated to recalling the religious communities of contemplative life.
"Some wonder about the meaning and value of their presence in our time, in which many urgent situations of poverty and need must be addressed," the Holy Father acknowledged in his address delivered from the window of his study. "Why 'shut oneself' forever behind the walls of a monastery and deprive others of the contribution of one's talents and experiences?" he asked.
"What efficacy can prayer have to resolve the numerous concrete problems that continue to afflict humanity?"
Benedict XVI responded: "These brothers and sisters silently witness that in the midst of daily vicissitudes, at times extremely convulsive, God is the only support that never falters, unbreakable rock of fidelity and love. …
"Given the widespread need that many experience to leave the daily routine of the great urban agglomerations in search of appropriate spaces for silence and meditation, monasteries of contemplative life appear as 'oases' in which man, a pilgrim on earth, can go to the sources of the Spirit and slake his thirst along the way."
These places, "apparently useless, are, on the contrary, indispensable, like the green 'lungs' of a city," the Pope contended. "They are beneficial for all, including for those who do not visit them or perhaps do not know that they exist."
After thanking God "for the gift of so many persons who, in monasteries and hermitages, are totally dedicated to God in prayer, silence and hiddenness," the Pontiff encouraged his listeners to offer these religious "spiritual and also material support so that they will be able to fulfill their mission of keeping alive in the Church the ardent expectation of Christ's return."
Thank you, Holy Father!
For resources to help your parish, prayer group or school celebrate "Pro Orantibus Day" go to CLOISTERED LIFE.