Benedict XVI says the vocation of monasteries is to point the world toward what is essential in life: seeking Christ and putting nothing before his love.
The Pope affirmed this today when he received in audience representatives of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Their three-day assembly concluded today.
Referring to the theme of the assembly, "Monastic Life and Its Significance in the Church and the World Today," the Holy Father said the theme was "particularly dear," as he took for his Petrine ministry the name of St. Benedict, founder of Western monasticism.
Monasteries, "seeking Christ and fixing their gaze on eternal realities," the Pontiff explained, "become spiritual oases that indicate to humanity the absolute primacy of God, through the continual adoration of this mysterious, but real, divine presence in the world, and the fraternal communion lived in the new commandment of love and mutual service."
Benedict XVI invited cloistered monks to "live the Gospel in a radical way deeply cultivating the spousal union with Christ" in awaiting the "glorious manifestation of the Savior."
If the vocation is thus lived, he continued, "then monasticism can comprise for all forms of religious and consecrated life a remembrance of what is essential and what has primacy in the life of every baptized person: seeking Christ and putting nothing before his love."
The Pope added that monasteries "should be ever more oases of ascetic life," where knowledge of Scripture is cultivated.
"It is from this prayerful listening to the Word," he said, "that silent prayer is raised up in monasteries, which become a testimony for those who are welcomed as if it was Christ himself in these places of peace."