Pope Benedict’s decision to dedicate himself to a life of prayer will enable him to impact people who might not have listened to him while he was Pope, according to a cloistered Dominican nun.
“When he lives this monastic lifestyle, his prayers will reach those who maybe were unbelievers during his papacy,” said Mother Maria Angelica.
“I’m absolutely sure of this, of the value of his prayer and of his silence. And it will reach the whole world, even where it wasn’t previously able to reach,” she told CNA on Feb. 16 at the Dominican monastery of Santa Maria del Rosario.
The cloistered Dominican nun also reflected on how the Pope will be living a life similar to her own.
“For us it is something great and beautiful because we will feel him even closer than when he was Pope, because it is an extraordinary greatness to know that he is following our same lifestyle.”
“I think it is marvelous that he wishes to be a ‘monk,’ dedicated to prayer and writing,” she added.
Mother Angelica said she was saddened about Pope Benedict’s resignation, but that “beyond the sadness lies great admiration for his great humility and courage to do so.”
According to the superior, a non-Catholic or someone who has never dealt with an enclosed religious may never be able to understand the lifestyle or its beauty.
“He will smile, but I don’t think he will understand it, although he will feel the effects of its prayer, which I believe also reaches those people,” she explained.
Mother Angelica also offered some of her memories of Pope Benedict from the time when he visited the convent on June 24, 2010 in response to the nuns’ repeated requests.
Her biggest highlights were watching him arrive and accompanying him from the garden to the choir.
“It was beautiful to live the moment between his glance and my glance, and it was a paternal look, tender and full of sweetness,” Mother Angelica recalled.
“It was also a very beautiful thing when he greeted the sisters one by one because he wanted to know the name of each one.”
She said that it is very different to see the Pope on television, and that he has left her community with “a great memory.”
Above all, she noted, “he donated a beautiful homily exclusively to us.”
The convent’s rules say only the Pope and cardinals are allowed within the enclosed part of the convent.
The convent safeguards the hand of Italy’s patron saint, St. Catherine of Sienna, the Dominican nun who convinced Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome.