“In the Church there are monasteries, convents, hermitages, where people consecrated to God live, and these often become centers of spiritual light,” he said. “They are communities of prayer that radiate spirituality.”
The pope said that these “small oases where intense prayer is shared” are vital cells not only of the Church, but for society itself.
“Let us think, for example, of the role that monasticism played in the birth and growth of European civilization, and also in other cultures. Praying and working in community keeps the world going. It is an engine,” Pope Francis said.
Pope Francis stressed that without prayer, the Church becomes “like an empty shell” in which no effective changes take place and which loses its direction to evangelize.
He said: “In Luke's Gospel, Jesus poses a dramatic question that always makes us reflect: ‘When the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?’”
“Or will he find only organizations, such as a group of ‘entrepreneurs of the faith,’ all well organized, who do many things for charity … but will he find faith?” the pope asked.
“Without faith, everything collapses. And without prayer, faith is extinguished. Faith and prayer, together. There is no other way. For this reason, the Church, which is a home and school of communion, is a home and school of faith and prayer,” Pope Francis said.