VATICAN CITY, JULY 10, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Holiness is the No. 1 priority in a Christian’s life, says Benedict XVI.
On the eve of Monday’s feast of St. Benedict, the Pope dedicated his weekly Angelus address to the monk from Norcia (480-547), “a saint who is particularly dear to me, as can be intuited from my choice of his name.”
Addressing some 40,000 tourists and pilgrims from the window of his study, the Holy Father summarized the teachings of the founder of the Benedictine monks with the phrase “Quaerere Deum” — Latin for “seeking God.”
The Bishop of Rome reminded his listeners that St. Benedict established in Subiaco, near Rome, “a fraternal community founded on the primacy of the love of Christ, in which prayer and work were alternated harmoniously in praise of God.”
The saint had this ideal in mind when he wrote his famous monastic Rule.
Seed of civilization
The Pope said: “Amid the ashes of the Roman Empire, Benedict, seeking first of all the Kingdom of God, sowed, perhaps even without realizing it, the seed of a new civilization which would develop, integrating Christian values with classical heritage, on one hand, and Germanic and Slav cultures on the other.”
The Holy Father underlined an aspect of the founder’s spirituality: “Benedict did not found a monastic institution oriented primarily to the evangelization of barbarian peoples, as other great missionary monks of the time, but indicated to his followers that the fundamental, and even more, the sole objective of existence is the search for God: ‘Quaerere Deum.'”
The saint knew “that when the believer enters into a profound relationship with God, he cannot be content with living in a mediocre way, with a minimal ethic and superficial religiosity,” the Holy Father said.
“In this light, one understands better the expression that Benedict took from St. Cyprian,” the Pontiff said: “Prefer nothing to the love of Christ.”
“Holiness consists in this valid proposal for every Christian that has become a true pastoral imperative in our time, in which one perceives the need to anchor life and history in solid spiritual references,” Benedict XVI said.
Cardinal Ratzinger’s lecture
The Pope’s reflection reflected the lecture he gave as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in Subiaco on April 1, in the convent of St. Scholastica, when he received the St. Benedict Award for the promotion of life and the family in Europe.
That lecture took place the day before Pope John Paul II died. Cardinal Ratzinger, the then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, concluded his lecture that day saying: “Benedict, as Abraham, became the father of many nations. The recommendations to his monks presented at the end of his Rule are pointers that show us also the way that leads on high, to emerge from the crisis and wreckage.
“What we need most at this moment of history are men that, through an enlightened and lived faith, render God credible in this world.”