As cloistered, contemplatives, these days leading up to the final day of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI have touched us in a deep and extraordinary way. While, the contemplative vocation has always held the esteem of the Church, the Holy Father's radical decision to respond to Christ's invitation to enter into the hidden life of prayer, "climbing up the mountain", as he said yesterday, "to devote myself even more to prayer and meditation" affirms us in our vocation to be at the heart of the Church. It seems that each day the mystery of the contemplative vocation in the life of the Church is shown in yet a more clear way. Today, Vatican Information Services posted the following announcement. You might call it our "marching orders" for right in the middle C. Bertone says, "The coming conclave will thus depend in a special way on the transparent purity of your prayer and worship.”

Wow! That is quite a responsibility but it is a responsibility of hope and love, trusting that the Lord, who has brought us to this life and to whom we belong as His spouse, will purify the holocaust of each contemplative vowed to Him and make our offering acceptable in the sight of God.

Vatican City, 25 February 2013 (VIS) - Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., sent a letter to the monasteries devoted to contemplative life around the world, inviting them to intensify their prayers at this special moment in the life of the Church. Following is the entire text of the message that is dated 21 February.

“I write to you as the whole Church anxiously follows the final days of the luminous pontificate of His Holiness Benedict XVI and awaits the arrival of the successor whom the Cardinals gathered in conclave and guided by the Holy Spirit will choose, after discerning together the signs of the times of the Church and the world.”

“His Holiness Benedict XVI has asked all the faithful to accompany him with their prayers as he commends the Petrine ministry into the Lord’s hands, and to await with trust the arrival of the new Pope. In a particularly urgent way this appeal is addressed to those chosen members of the Church who are contemplatives. The Holy Father is certain that you, in your monasteries and convents throughout the world, will provide the precious resource of that prayerful faith which down the centuries has accompanied and sustained the Church along her pilgrim path. The coming conclave will thus depend in a special way on the transparent purity of your prayer and worship.”

“The most significant example of this spiritual elevation which manifests the most authentic and profound dimension of every ecclesial action, the presence of the Holy Spirit who guides the Church, is offered to us by His Holiness Benedict XVI who, after having steered the barque of Peter amid the waves of history, has chosen to devote himself above all to prayer, contemplation and reflection.”

“The Holy Father, with whom I shared the contents of this letter, was deeply appreciative, and asked me to thank you and to assure you of his immense love and esteem.”

“With affection in Christ I send you greetings, united with you in prayer.”