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Pope Francis Addresses the Benedictine Oblates
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Pope Francis addressed Benedictine Oblates participating in their Fifth World Congress, emphasizing the core essence of their charism as an "expanded heart" filled with love. He described this expanded heart as a bearer of grace throughout the centuries, firmly rooted like a tree weathering the passage of time and yielding the rich fruits of the Gospel.
St. Benedict of Nursia
The Pope delved into three key aspects of this "expansion of heart": the quest for God, a passion for the Gospel, and the spirit of hospitality.
The Search for God
The Pope noted that the Benedictine way of life centers on an unceasing quest for God, His divine will, and the wonders He manifests. This search primarily begins with the Word of God, particularly through lectio divina. However, it extends to contemplating creation, facing life's challenges, considering work as a form of prayer, and, most importantly, encountering fellow human beings.
Enthusiasm for the Gospel
Pope Francis highlighted the characteristic "enthusiasm for the Gospel" shared by Benedictine Oblates, drawing inspiration from Benedictine monks. Similar to these monks, who cultivate their living spaces and infuse their daily lives with industriousness, Oblates are called to transform their immediate surroundings, wherever they reside, by becoming a positive influence, blending skill and responsibility with gentleness and compassion.
He stressed that, in today's world, what is needed are not judgmental Christians but enthusiastic witnesses radiating the Gospel's message.
The Pope concluded by reflecting on the value of "hospitality," noting that the Benedictine Rule directs monks to welcome guests at the monastery, particularly pilgrims and the less fortunate, as they would welcome Jesus Himself.
As Oblates, Pope Francis explained that their broader monastery encompasses the world, the city, and the workplace. They are tasked with exemplifying hospitality to all who approach their door, alongside a special preference for the poor. However, he cautioned against becoming isolated and admonished against the temptation to speak ill of others.
Seeking, Bearing Witness, and Embracing Love
Pope Francis asked the Benedictine Oblates to continue expanding their hearts and daily entrusting them to God's love. He encouraged them never to cease seeking this divine love, to ardently bear witness to it, and to warmly welcome it in the lives of the less fortunate they encounter on their journey.