In an article for L’Osservatore Romano timed to coincide with the ‘Pro Orantibus Day’ which takes place today, the Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Order, Notker Wolf, has reminded readers of the various qualities contemplatives should strive to attain.
Recalling Pope Francis’ address to the Poor Clares in Assisi Oct. 4, he said the most important thing to remember is that “contemplation is always, always with Jesus; Jesus, God and Man, and community life always with a great heart.”
It’s a message directed to the faithful and a challenge for contemplatives, the German Benedictine said.
Underlining the importance of “modest living”, and that the contemplative vocation is to “build up the Church of Jesus, especially through prayer”, he added that “the true criterion of holiness is not the contemplation itself, but the merciful love we show each other that extends to all men.”.
He went on to note that Pope Francis has highlighted two attitudes that adversely affect contemplative life: self-centredness and speaking ill of each other.
Of the former, Abbot Wolf said: “We enjoy the benefits of living in a protected area. This is precisely why we should not be indifferent to the miseries of the world. Accompanying people in dealing with problems is one of our most important tasks.”
Of gossip and calumny, he noted there are “many rumors in our monasteries” but contemplatives “must want the good for all – this is our goal.” He recalled that St. Benedict often warned against gossip, saying it was a form of rebellion against God “who created one’s neighbour as he created me, and loves us both equally.”
“If a community, instead of fearfully closing in on its own concerns, lives in love, showing love for one another,” he said, “this love that comes from a merciful God, and if it moves away from envy and strife, will become a city on a hill, in the light of a candelabra.”