Pope Encourages Study of Monastic Spirituality and History

Institute at St. Anselm Athenaeum Marks 50th Anniversary

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 30, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II wrote a letter to thank the Benedictine order for its contribution over the past 50 years to the study of monasticism, both in the East and West.

The papal message, addressed to Abbot Primate Notker Wolf of the confederated Benedictines, was sent on the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Monastic Institute of the St. Anselm Pontifical Athenaeum of Rome, a leading center for the study of monasticism.

The Holy Father said the center has been crucial for the rediscovery of decisive historical aspects of Christian monastic spirituality.

The Pope, who last Saturday visited the Monastery of St. John of Rila, the most important monastic center in the Balkans, thanked the Benedictine center for its studies on Eastern and Western monasticism, revealing «the existing interaction between the respective schools of theology, spirituality and monastic life.»

In order to continue this work, the Pope urged the athenaeum´s professors and students to «cultivate an uninterrupted intimacy with the Divine Master.»

«Thus the ´ora´ of contemplation will be able to be combined harmoniously with the ´labora´ of action, in an incessant study of the monastic patrimony,» he wrote.

The Benedictine confederation embraces almost 8,000 religious and novices, including 4,600 priests.

The papal letter was read by Father Mark Sheridan, dean of the School of Theology of the athenaeum, at the opening of a congress on «Classic Texts and Themes of the Christian Monastic Tradition: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow.»

More information is at www.santanselmo.org.

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