Benedictines to "Take Over" Prayer in Vatican Convent

Carmelites Thanked for 5-Year Stay at Mater Ecclesiae

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 3, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Benedictine nuns will take over the Vatican's Mater Ecclesiae convent this week, a house occupied over the past five years by Carmelites praying for the Pope and the Roman Curia.



In a homily delivered last Friday in the cloistered convent, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute for general affairs of the Vatican Secretariat of State, thanked the Carmelite nuns for the support given to the Holy Father and his aides with their prayer and "admirable example of consecrated life."

The Argentine archbishop delivered his homily during the Mass celebrated at the conclusion of the period of the Carmelites' stay in the convent.

This convent of contemplative nuns in the Vatican was founded by John Paul II in 1994, to enrich the Curia with the presence and prayer of nuns totally dedicated to contemplation.

By indication of the Pope himself, the community of the convent changes every five years, the period of duration of an assignment in the Curia.

In 1994 the convent was animated by a community of Poor Clares. The present community of Carmelites, who come from several countries, arrived in the Vatican in September 1999. The Benedictines will take over this Friday.

On the day of the liturgical memorial of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Archbishop Sandri said that the saint continues to "fascinate many faithful with her example and her doctrine on spiritual childhood."

"In a society such as the present, so often dominated by the logic of competition and power, by the will to possession and supremacy, it is all the more necessary for every human person seeking their own fulfillment to rediscover where 'true greatness' is found," he said.

"Man's true greatness is only what appears so in God's eyes," the Vatican official said.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux, pursuing the "path of 'spiritual childhood,' made her own the fundamental teaching contained in the Gospel: 'The one who make himself little as this child, is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven,'" Archbishop Sandri said.

Recalling the Carmelites' five years of contemplative life spent within the Vatican walls, Archbishop Sandri praised the nuns for the commitment they assumed, making themselves "a praying presence in silence and solitude in support of the Holy Father in his daily concern for the whole Church."

"You have offered the Pope, his aides, and me personally, and all those who have come to the convent to visit you and to pray in this chapel, an admirable example of consecrated life according to the spirituality of Carmel," he continued.

"In particular, you have offered the image of a profound and shared joy, sign of an intense spiritual life, of a great love for the Holy Father and for the Church, of great agreement among yourselves in daily occupations," the prelate added.

Archbishop Sandri expressed the hope that the community they built in these years of their Vatican stay may continue when they return to their respective convents of origin.

He prayed "that you will be able to continue living that special vocation that St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus discovered, namely, to be love in the heart of the Church."