Pontiff Says Contemplatives Give Breath to World

Calls Communities a “Spiritual Lung”

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ROME, MARCH 9, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Contemplative communities are called to be a type of “spiritual lung” for the world, so that spiritual “respiration” is not strangled by the bustle of cities, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this today when he visited the Oblate Sisters of Santa Francesca Romana. He stopped at the convent after having visited the headquarters of Rome’s civil authorities, where he addressed the mayor and other civil leaders.

Today is the feast day of St. Francesca (1384-1440), whom the Holy Father referred to as “the most Roman of saints.”

After spending some time in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and in veneration of the saint’s body, the Pope addressed the sisters and students that reside at the center.

Referring to his spiritual exercises last week with the members of the Curia, the Holy Father said “he had felt once again how indispensable silence and prayer are.”

He noted how the convent is located at the heart of the city, saying, “How can we not see in it the symbol of the need to return the spiritual dimension to the center of civil coexistence, to give full meaning to the multiple activities of the human being?”

The Bishop of Rome told the nuns: “Your community, together with the other communities of contemplative life, is called to be a sort of ‘spiritual lung’ of society, so that the performance, the activism of a city, is not devoid of spiritual ‘respiration,’ the reference to God and his plan of salvation. […]

“A singular balance is lived here between religious and secular life, between the life of the world and outside of the world. A model that was not born in a laboratory, but in the concrete experience of a young Roman woman: written — it could be said — by God himself in Francesca’s extraordinary existence.

“It is no accident that the walls of this environment are decorated with images of her life, demonstrating that the real building that God wishes to construct is the life of the saints.”

In this context, the Pope stressed that also today “Rome needs women who are all for God and for their neighbor; women able to recollect themselves and give generous and discreet service; women who are able to obey their pastors, but also able to support and motivate them with their suggestions.”

This vocation “is the gift of a maternity that is made one with religious oblation, modeled after Mary,” the Pontiff reflected. “Mary’s heart is the cloister where the Word continues to speak in silence, and at the same time is the furnace of a charity that leads to courageous gestures, and also to a persevering and hidden generosity.”

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