Greeting the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the importance of men and women joining the cloistered monastic life. Those who accept such a vocation are a reminder that God provides an unfailing support in the midst of an uncertain world, the Pope said.
The Holy Father recalled that tomorrow, November 21st, the Church celebrates a day “pro Orantibus,” dedicated to cloistered religious communities. “This is a particularly appropriate occasion," the Pope said, “to give thanks to the Lord for the gift of so many people who, in monasteries and hermitages, dedicate themselves entirely to God in prayer and silence.”
"Some people ask themselves, what meaning and value can the presence of such people have in our time, in which the situations of want and poverty we have to face are so numerous and urgent,” the Pontiff noted. “Why 'cloister' oneself forever within the walls of a monastery, thus depriving others ... of one's abilities and experiences? What effect can prayer have for resolving the many concrete problems that continue to afflict humanity?”
In addition to such sentiments, Pope Benedict noted, there are also many who are surprised people would, “abandon often promising careers to embrace the austere rule of a cloistered monastery.”
“What is it that pushes them to such a radical step if not having understood, as the Gospel teaches, that the Kingdom of heaven is 'a treasure' for which it is truly worthwhile to abandon everything,” the Pope exclaimed.
Such people, he said, "bear silent witness to the fact that in the midst of the uncertainties of daily life...the only support that never fails is God, a steadfast rock of faithfulness and love.”
“And in the face of the widespread need, felt by many, to escape the daily routine of the great urban centers in search of spaces suitable for silence and contemplation, monasteries of contemplative life are like 'oasis' in which man, a pilgrim upon earth, can better draw upon the sources of the Spirit and quench his thirst on his journey,” he continued.
"These places, then, apparently useless, are in fact indispensable,” the Pope said. “Like the green 'lungs' of a city, they are good for everyone, even for people who... perhaps do not know of their existence."