His Holiness Benedict XVI Will Be a Monk and Pray for the Church He Loves
saint. Celestine didn't resign because he was a saint. He wasn't a saint because he resigned. He resigned to become a saint."
The monastic life of His Holiness Benedict XVI will continue his path to sanctity. Monks are the treasure of the Church. No matter how much formal theological study they have, it is their depth of prayer which makes them the best of theologians. So it is with His Holiness Benedict XVI. Evagrius of Pontus once wrote "a theologian is one who prays and one who prays is a theologian."
Out of the storehouse of grace monk/theologians help the faithful in their pursuit of the longing of every human heart - communion and intimacy with the God who has revealed Himself in the face of Jesus Christ. What is necessary is to encounter Him, contemplate the beauty and be transformed in the encounter. His Holiness Benedict XVI will do so and help us through his prayer and work. Monastic life and spirituality is labor immersed in prayer. I have no doubt that his best writing is ahead. It will be his work.
People mistakenly believe that the monk retreats from the world because of its corruption. In fact, the monk retreats precisely in order to transform the world by prophetic witness and powerful prayer. The dedicated and holy monk is of inestimable value in the sanctifying and redemptive work of the Church. His Holiness Benedict XVI will be that kind of monk.
Monasticism in the first millennium gave us the fountain of theological wisdom which still inspires the Church. Those who went into the desert became the great teachers, fathers, confessors and prophets. Their prayer and witness kept the Church in the Divine embrace so that she could effectively continue the redemptive mission of the Lord.
In the second millennium, their work and witness continued. Sadly, the Church had been torn in two with the first split, East and West. In the East, the Monks continued to be a resource for the kind of theology which brings heaven to earth and earth to heaven. From their ranks the great Bishops of the Church were chosen and the Church was continually renewed.
In the West, the great Monasteries of Europe became the beating heart of the emergence of Christendom. The extraordinary intellect exhibited in the emerging theological tradition birthed in the monasteries enabled the Church to contend with daunting challenges, welcome them without fear, contend for the faith and offer the claims of Truth Incarnate.
Now, His Holiness Benedict XVI will give us a prophetic witness of monastic life right within the Vatican. His commitment to the unity of the Church will continue because this is still "his compelling duty." His teaching on monks during his papacy is telling. For example, in an address given in 2007 he spoke of the monastic life as a gift for the whole church. It can be read in its entirety here.
He told the group of monks in Austria, " just as a liturgy which no longer looks to God is already in its death throes, so too a theology which no longer draws its life-breath from faith ceases to be theology; it ends up as a array of more or less loosely connected disciplines. But where theology is practiced "on bent knee", as Hans Urs von Balthasar urged, it will prove fruitful for the Church." He will practice theology on bent knee.
Monks are a seed of the great renewals of the Catholic Church. It is no accident he took the name Benedict. He had just returned from that retreat at Subiaco, the cave where St. Benedict spent three years in prayer. In a General Audience on April 29, 2008 he called Benedict the Patron of His Pontificate. It is no accident he will keep the name Benedict. He will live a monastic vocation right within the heart of the Vatican. How fitting. How prophetic. How beautiful.
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