MEDITATION OF THE DAY
Sharing the Riches Received
I come with great joy to meet you at this historic Monastery of Saint Frances of Rome…. In these days [of Lent] I have experienced once again how indispensable silence and prayer are. And I also thought of Saint Frances of Rome, of her unreserved dedication to God and neighbor which gave rise to the experience of community life here. Contemplation and action, prayer and charitable service, the monastic ideal and social involvement: all this has found here a “laboratory” rich in fruits…. But the real impetus behind all that was achieved in the course of time was the heart of Frances, into which the Holy Spirit had poured out his spiritual gifts….
Your monastery is located in the heart of the city. How is it possible not to see in this, as it were, the symbol of the need to bring the spiritual dimension back to the center and to give full meaning to the many activities of the human being? Precisely in this perspective your community, together with all communities of contemplative life, is called to be a sort of spiritual “lung” of society, so that all that is to be done, all that happens in a city, does not lack a spiritual “breath,” the reference to God and his saving plan. This is the service that is carried out in particular by monasteries, places of silence and meditation on the divine word, places where there is constant concern to keep the earth open to Heaven.
Then your monastery has its own special feature which naturally reflects the charism of Saint Frances of Rome. Here you keep a unique balance between life in the world and outside the world. This model did not come into being on paper but in the practical experience of a young woman of Rome; it was written one might say by God himself in the extraordinary life of Frances, in her history as a child, an adolescent, a very young wife and mother, a mature woman conquered by Jesus Christ, as Saint Paul would say. Not without reason are the walls of these premises decorated with scenes from her life, to show that the true building which God likes to build is the life of saints….
I wish to emphasize the feminine dimension: women who belong wholly to God and wholly to their neighbor; women who are capable of recollection and of generous and discreet service in conversation with Christ and in first-hand experience in the area of charity, assistance to the sick, to the marginalized, to minors in difficulty. This is the gift of a motherhood that is one with religious self-gift, after the model of Mary Most Holy. Let us think of the mystery of the Visitation. Immediately after conceiving the Word of God in her heart and in her flesh, Mary set out to go and help her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth. Mary’s heart is the cloister where the Word continues to speak in silence, and at the same time it is the crucible of a charity that is conducive to courageous gestures, as well as to a persevering and hidden sharing.
Pope Benedict XVI
His Holiness Benedict XVI reigned as pope from 2005 until 2013. / From Address of Pope Benedict XVI, Monastery of the Benedictine Oblate Sisters of Saint Frances of Rome at Tor de Speechi, March 9, 2009. Used with permission of the Libreria Editrice Vaticana. www.vatican.va.