ROME, MAY 21, 2002 (Zenit.org).-While traditional religious Congregations still experience the crisis of vocations, the Church is witnessing a growth of new contemplative vocations, particularly in the Benedictine spirituality.
The news is reported in “Vita Pastorale” (Pastoral Life), the monthly magazine of the Pauline Family, directed to Italian parish priests. In its latest issue, the magazine includes a well-documented article stating that the best answer to the “need for a more intense and profound religious life” is spiritual support.
“Truly we are witnessing a monastic explosion of the Benedictine tradition; without exaggeration, we can speak of a kind of globalization of the Benedictine charism. The number of foundations increased during the whole 20th century, with 116 Benedictine foundations alone in the period between 1980 and 2000. An interesting case is that of South Korea, where there is a monastery with over 200 Olivetian nuns.”
According to the article´s analysis, the phenomenon is complex. On one hand, there is verification of “the decrease in vocations, both priestly and religious, which do not flower without a spiritual atmosphere,” and on the other, “the explosion of the monastic and contemplative life.”
In order to respond to this new demand, “Vita Pastorale” makes four suggestions: “Spiritual Exercises and retreats; the apostolate of prayer; communities of Christian life; spiritual support not only on the part of priests, and men and women religious, but also of trained laymen.”
Of these four ways, the magazine says the “best” is spiritual direction or guidance. “It is an extremely important apostolate because without it, there are no priestly vocations, especially the most suitable for people who suffer the effects of secularization.”
“The flowering of spirituality that can be observed at the beginning of the 21st century leads one to hope in the good of the Church and the world and to nourish the certainty that God acts irresistibly in hearts, despite the signs and gestures that might imply lack of confidence,” the article concludes.