Pope Benedict XVI focused his Wednesday general audience address on the twelfth-century Abbot of Cluny Peter the Venerable. Peter the Venerable, he explained to the 20,000 pilgrims, “constituted the ideal of a monk, but also of every Christian who wants to become a true disciple of Christ” in today's fast-paced world.
Born in 1094 in Auvergne, France, Peter the Venerable was elected as Abbot of Cluny in 1122. Peter, the Pope said, "found himself having to guide Cluny in years that were far from peaceful for internal and external reasons."
Despite his pressing responsibilities and frequent travels in the service of the Church, Peter maintained a contemplative spirit, deep inner tranquility, rigorous asceticism and a capacity for warm friendships.
"Those who knew him exalted his righteousness, loyalty, elegance and special ability to mediate," the Holy Father recalled. The abbot was "ascetic and strict with himself and understanding with others."
Pope Benedict also recounted some of the monk's sayings, such as, "more can be obtained from man through tolerance than complaint" and “With those who hate we should always be peaceful."
"We might say that this holy abbot is an example for the monks and the Christians of our time, marked by a frenetic pace of life, where incidents of intolerance and lack of communication, division and conflicts are far from rare,” the Pope offered. “His witness invites us to unite our love for God with love for neighbor, and never to cease creating bonds of fraternity and reconciliation."
Abbot Peter also had a talent for writing literature, Benedict XVI recalled, saying that, "Although Peter was not a theologian, he was nonetheless a great investigator of the mystery of God. His theology had its roots in prayer, especially liturgical prayer.”
Peter, he added, left "enlightened writings on Mary and her collaboration in the Redemption" and among the mysteries of Christ, this monk preferred that of the Transfiguration, which prefigures the Resurrection.
For Peter the Venerable the ideal for monks to follow "consists in 'tenacious adherence to Christ' through…silent contemplation and constant praise of God."
This abbot’s example, the Pope concluded, ultimately was "a lifestyle that, combined with daily work, constituted the ideal a monk’s life, but also of every Christian who wants to become a true disciple of Christ, characterized by their own tenacious adherence to Him through humility, hard work and a capacity for forgiveness and peace.''
In his Italian-language greeting, the Holy Father addressed these words to young people, the sick and to newlyweds: “Dear ones, we celebrate tomorrow the feast of St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church. May this great saint bear witness for you, dear young people, that authentic love cannot be separated from truth. May she help you, dear sick, to understand that the cross of Christ is the mystery of love that redeems human suffering. For you, dear newlyweds, may she be a model of fidelity to God, who entrusts to each of us a special mission.”