Pope Lauds Benedictines for Helping World Find God

Urges Them to Found More Monasteries

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 22, 2008 (Zenit.org).- In an age marked by worry and absurdity, the Benedictines can teach people how to recognize the God whom they seek, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope thus encouraged the monks and nuns to found new monasteries, also outside of Europe, when he spoke with them Saturday at Castel Gandolfo.

"In many parts of the world, especially in Asia and Africa, there is a great need of vital spaces to encounter the Lord," the Holy Father explained to the abbots and abbesses. "Hence, do not fail to meet with an open heart the hopes of all those, including those outside of Europe, who express a true desire for your presence and apostolate."

The witness of the Benedictine vocation is particularly important, added the Pontiff, "in a de-sacralized world and an age marked by the worrying culture of the void and the absurd."

"This is the reason why your monasteries are places where men and women, also in our age, run to seek God and to learn to recognize the signs of the presence of Christ, of his charity and of his mercy," he said.

The Pope appealed to Benedictines to "allow themselves to be led by the profound desire to serve all men with charity, without distinctions of race or religion," and to found new monasteries "there, where Providence calls you to establish them."

Moreover, the Holy Father also called their attention to the evangelizing, formative and cultural work that the Benedictines can carry out in Europe, "especially in favor of the new generations."

"Dedicate yourselves to young people with renewed apostolic ardor, as they are the future of the Church and of humanity," he encouraged. "To build a 'new' Europe, it is necessary to begin with the new generations, offering them the possibility to profoundly approach the spiritual riches of the liturgy, of meditation and of lectio divina."

Vocational crisis

The Holy Father also had words of encouragement especially for Benedictine abbesses, whose communities are suffering at present from a lack of vocations.

Benedict XVI asked them "not to be discouraged" and especially to avoid "the weakening of their spiritual devotion to the Lord and to their own vocation and mission."

"By persevering faithfully in it, you confess, instead, with great effectiveness in face of the world, your own firm trust in the Lord of history, in whose hands are the times and destinies of persons, institutions, peoples; to him we entrust all that touches upon the historical fulfillment of his gifts," he continued.

Finally, the Pontiff praised traditional Benedictine hospitality, through which one can transmit many spiritual goods to those who go to monasteries.

"This is a peculiar vocation of yours, a fully spiritual, human and cultural experience," he affirmed, which allows you "to offer the men and women of our time the possibility of reflecting more profoundly on the meaning of existence in the infinite horizon of Christian hope."