Benedict XVI holds up St. Odo as example of joy amid a society of vice

Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI

.- Although society was filled with an “immensity of vices” during his time, St. Odo was able to encourage the faithful to live the faith with joy, Pope Benedict said at the general audience today as he continued his series of teachings on the medieval saints.

The Holy Father flew by helicopter to the Paul VI Hall from Castel Gandolfo this morning to hold his weekly general audience. 

Focusing his remarks on St. Odo, Benedict XVI explained how the saint was born around the year 880, eventually becoming the second abbot of the famous abbey of Cluny. "From that center of spiritual life, he was able to exercise a vast influence on the monasteries of the continent," fomenting a lifestyle and a spirituality inspired by the Rule of St. Benedict, the Pope said.

The Holy Father described the 62-year life of St. Odo as one marked by numerous virtues, including "patience, ... detachment from the world, zeal for souls, commitment to peace, ... observance of the commandments, concern for the poor, education of the young and respect for the elderly."

"One aspect that merits particular attention is the devotion to the Body and Blood of Christ which Odo - in the face of a widespread negligence that he vigorously deplored -cultivated with conviction. He was, in fact, firmly convinced of the real presence of the Body and Blood of the Lord under the Eucharistic species, by virtue of the 'substantial' conversion of the bread and wine."

Benedict XVI also highlighted one particular saying of St. Odo on the reception of the Eucharist. St. Odo was known for saying, "only those who are spiritually united to Christ can worthily receive His Eucharistic Body; in any other case, eating His flesh and drinking His blood would not be beneficial, but harmful."

Despite the fact that society was filled with an 'immensity of vices,' the Pope said that "St. Odo was a true spiritual guide, both for the monks and for the faithful of his time.” In the face of a sin-filled society, the Pope recalled, St. Odo proposed the remedy of a “radical change of lifestyle founded upon humility, austerity, detachment from the ephemeral and adherence to the eternal."

Witnessing to the joy of such a change, St. Odo allowed the “profound goodness of his soul” to shine   and thus “diffused around him the joy with which he himself was filled. ... Through his resolute activities he nourished in the monks, and in the lay faithful of his time, a desire to proceed rapidly along the path of Christian perfection," Pope Benedict said.

The Holy Father brought his remarks to a close by saying that he hopes that "the goodness of St. Odo, the joy that derives from faith, ... may touch our hearts and that we too may discover the source of happiness that comes from the goodness of God."


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