PRAYER BRINGS GRACES OF SANCTIFICATION TO THE CHURCH
VATICAN CITY, 24 JUN 2010 (VIS) - Following his visit to the Don Orione Centre in Rome's Monte Mario district, the Holy Father moved on to the nearby Dominican convent of Santa Maria del Rosario in Monte Mario where he presided at the celebration of the Middle Hour (hora media) with the cloistered nuns.
The convent houses the seventh-century icon of the Virgin "Hagiosoritissa", known as Our Lady of St. Luke, as well as precious relics of St. Dominic, St. Catherine of
"You, who are well aware of the effectiveness of prayer", he told the nuns in his address, "daily experience how many graces of sanctification it can obtain for the Church".
Benedict XVI encouraged the religious "to be grateful to Divine Providence for the sublime and gratuitous gift of the monastic vocation, to which the Lord called you without any merit on your part".
"The contemplative life which, from the hands of St. Dominic, you received in the form of the cloister, makes you living and vital members in the heart of the Lord's mystical body which is the Church. And just as the heart causes the blood to circulate and keeps the entire body alive, so your hidden lives with Christ, imbued with work and prayer, contribute to maintaining the Church, the instrument of salvation for all mankind whom the Lord redeemed with His Blood".
Through prayer, the Pope went on, you present "the Almighty with the spiritual and material needs of so many of our brothers and sisters in difficulty, the lost lives of those who have abandoned the Lord. How can we not be moved by compassion for those who seem to drift without a goal? How can we not desire that their lives may encounter Jesus, Who alone gives meaning to existence?"
"Ensure then", he continued his remarks to the nuns, "that in everything you do, beyond the time you dedicate to prayer, your hearts continue to be guided by the desire to love God. ... This is the horizon of the earthy pilgrimage. This is your goal. You have chosen to live in obscurity and to renounce earthly goods in order to desire above all other things the good that has no equal, the precious pearl for which it is worth abandoning all else".
The Holy Father concluded by inviting the religious "to pronounce your 'yes' to the designs of God every day, with the same humility as that with which the Blessed Virgin pronounced her 'yes'".
Then, before taking his leave of the cloistered sisters, Pope Benedict stood in reverence before the icon of Haghiosoritissa. His visit comes a few days ahead of the "feast of the Translation" of the painting to the Monastery of SS. Dominic and Sixtus, which takes place on June 27 according to the Congregation of Rites.
That morning at Matins the nuns sing the "Legend" on the origins and pilgrimage of the "acheropite" Icon, a narrative from the eleventh century that tells how the Apostles after the resurrection, decided that the face of the Virgin should be depicted by the Evangelist Luke. The artist had barely traced her face, without even putting his hand to the colours, when the image appeared completed in all its magnificent beauty, "as was natural, because the work appeared not as the result of human effort, but as expression of the power of God Almighty".
After some time - continues the "Legend" - the image came to Rome from Constantinople where it continues to lavish favours and graces on the faithful who entrust themselves to the intercession of the Venerable Mother of God.
UPDATE: You can read the full text in Italian HERE!