Faithful Invited to Deeper Friendship, Says Pope

Recommends Daily Prayer, Well-Prepared Mass

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 29, 2010 ( The testimony of a 13th-century saint is a “strong invitation” to intensify friendship with God, particularly in daily prayer and at Mass, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope made this observation today when he spoke at the general audience about St. Matilda of Hackeborn.

Matilda was born in 1241 or 1242, to the “family of the Baron of Hackeborn, one of the most noble, rich and powerful families of Thuringia, related to emperor Frederick II,” the Holy Father noted. And she joined the notorious convent at Helfta, at “the most glorious period of its history.” He explained how that convent witnessed the “glory of German monasticism,” receiving four great women: two named Gertrude (Matilda’s blood sister by that name and her religious sister, St. Gertrude the Great), and two Matildas (also Matilda of Magdeburg).

Matilda of Hackeborn was known as “God’s nightingale,” the Pontiff recalled, and was a woman blessed with a range of spiritual and human talents, including “the divine gift of mystical contemplation.”

“Prayer and contemplation were the vital soil of her existence: the revelations, her teachings, her service to her neighbor, her journey in faith and in love have their root and context here,” he added.

The Bishop of Rome recounted how Matilda lived a life of suffering, harshened further by her intense penances. In fact, the last eight years of her live were plagued by illnesses because “when the hour arrived in which the Lord wanted to take her with him, she asked him to be able to live a bit longer in suffering for the salvation of souls, and Jesus was pleased with this further sign of love.”

The Pope noted how her visions and teachings are imbued with biblical and liturgical language, thus indicating “her profound knowledge of sacred Scripture, her daily bread. She takes recourse to it constantly.”

In fact, he added, “personal and liturgical prayer, especially the Liturgy of the Hours and holy Mass, are the root of the spiritual experience of St. Matilda of Hackeborn.”

“Allowing herself to be guided by sacred Scripture and to be nourished by the Eucharistic Bread, she followed a path of intimate union with the Lord, always in full fidelity to the Church,” he said. “This is for us also a strong invitation to intensify our friendship with the Lord, above all through daily prayer and attentive, faithful and active participation in the holy Mass. The liturgy is a great school of spirituality.”

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