MONTSERRAT, Spain, FEB. 26, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI has granted a Jubilee Year to the Benedictine Shrine of Montserrat in Catalonia, Spain.
ZENIT interviewed Abbot Josep María Soler of the monastery to understand the scope of this year of grace and forgiveness.
Q: The Virgin of Montserrat is patroness of Catalonia. What does this mean in the life of the believer?
Abbot Soler: It means a prolongation of the mystery of the Incarnation in Christian communities placed under Mary’s patronage.
She, the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church, is present in peoples’ lives also through the iconography with which each nation has wished to express the Virgin’s protection over the local Church.
The liturgy says of Mary that “with her holiness, she honors all Churches.” To be patroness means a spiritual relationship made up of love, solicitous care, and intercessory maternity. At the same time it means to be a model of Christian life.
Q: The Jubilee Year will increase the number of pilgrims that visit the shrine. What would you like them to find?
Abbot Soler: The number will probably increase, though the figure is already quite high: We are hovering around 2 million. I would like them to draw nearer to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
To go to a shrine might be the propitious occasion to obtain inner peace and rediscover and intensify faith, hope and charity. The fruit should be to witness the faith joyfully and to intensify ecclesial communion.
Q: How can this year of grace and forgiveness contribute to pacify spirits in Spain?
Abbot Soler: The theme of this Jubilee Year is “Mary, Mother of Consolation and Hope,” because the experience of pilgrims is that the encounter with her in this shrine, gives them consolation, invites them to draw near to Christ by celebrating his sacraments and infuses hope in them.
And he who feels consoled, loved, pacified, forgiven should — for the sake of consistency — sow the same around him.
Moreover, the expressions of faith and piety that take place in Montserrat foment, without a doubt, the charity of Christ, the endeavor for peace and the diffusion of truth.
Q: Montserrat is one of the most significant Benedictine monasteries of Europe in which spirituality, nature and culture are blended. How would you like Montserrat to be after the Jubilee Year?
Abbot Soler: I would like all these elements that have configured the present-day Montserrat to be fortified by the spiritual grace of this Jubilee Year.
In this way the monastery will be able to continue to be an antenna of the Gospel, a school of prayer and fraternity, and a shrine that manifests in an attractive way the beauty of living as a Christian.