Reading: Memorial of the BVM

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Reading: Memorial of the BVM

February 4, 2023

Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI 7
to the monks of Heiligenkreuz Abbey

In the life of monks…prayer takes on a particular importance: it is the heart of
their calling. Their vocation is to be men of prayer. In the patristic period the
monastic life was likened to the life of the angels. It was considered the essential
mark of the angels that they are worshippers. Their very life is worship. This
should hold true also for monks. Monks pray first and foremost not for any specific
intention, but simply because God is worthy of being praised…Such prayer for its
own sake, intended as pure divine service, is rightly called officium. It is “service”
par excellence, the “sacred service” of monks. It is offered to the triune God who,
above all else, is worthy “to receive glory, honour and power”, because he
wondrously created the world and even more wondrously renewed it.

At the same time, the officium of consecrated persons is also a sacred service
to men and women, a testimony offered to them. All people have deep within their
hearts, whether they know it or not, a yearning for definitive fulfillment, for
supreme happiness, and thus, ultimately, for God. A monastery, in which the
community gathers several times a day for the praise of God, testifies to the fact that
this primordial human longing does not go unfulfilled: God the Creator has not
placed us in a fearful darkness where, groping our way in despair, we seek some
ultimate meaning; God has not abandoned us in a desert void, bereft of meaning,
where in the end only death awaits us. No! God has shone forth in our darkness
with his light, with his Son Jesus Christ. In him, God has entered our world in all
his “fullness”; in him all truth, the truth for which we yearn, has its source and

Our light, our truth, our goal, our fulfilment, our life – all this is not a
religious doctrine but a person: Jesus Christ. Over and above any ability of our own
to seek and to desire God, we ourselves were already sought and desired, and
indeed, found and redeemed by him! The gaze of people of every time and nation,
of all the philosophies, religions and cultures, ultimately encounters the wide open
eyes of the crucified and risen Son of God; his open heart is the fullness of love. The
eyes of Christ are the eyes of a loving God.

Your primary service to this world must therefore be your prayer and the
celebration of the divine office. The interior disposition…of each consecrated
person, must be that of “putting nothing before the divine Office”. The beauty of
this inner attitude will find expression in the beauty of the liturgy, so that wherever
we join singing, praising, exalting and worshipping God, a little bit of heaven will
become present on earth…In all our effort on behalf of the liturgy, the determining
factor must always be our looking to God. We stand before God – he speaks to us
and we speak to him…

…among you there burns the Marian flame of a Saint Bernard of
Clairvaux…Perhaps it was because of his particular devotion to Our Lady that he
exercised such a compelling and infectious influence on his many young
contemporaries called by God. Where Mary is, there is the pentecostal breath of the
Holy Spirit; there is new beginning and authentic renewal…Saint Bernard says, and
we say with him: “Look to the star of the sea, call upon Mary…in danger, in distress,
in doubt, think of Mary, call upon Mary. May her name never be far from your lips,
or far from your heart…If you follow her, you will not stray; if you pray to her, you
will not despair; if you turn your thoughts to her, you will not err. If she holds you,
you will not fall; if she protects you, you need not fear; if she is your guide, you will
not tire; if she is gracious to you, you will surely reach your destination”.

7 Pope Benedict XVI. Visit to Heiligenkreuz Abbey: Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI. Sunday, 8
September 2007.


February 4, 2023
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