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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Why visit a Monastery ?



Extract of the Speech of Pope Benedict XVI at Heiligenkreuz Abbey, the Cistercian monastery in the village of Heiligenkreuz in the southern part of the Vienna woods, on Sunday, 9 September 2007

The monastery has existed without interruption since its foundation in 1133, and is thus the oldest continuously occupied Cistercian monastery in the world (the second oldest after Rein Abbey).


"The soul of prayer, ultimately, is the Holy Spirit. Whenever we pray, it is he who “helps us in our weakness, interceding for us with sighs too deep for words” (Rom 8:26).

Trusting in these words of the Apostle Paul, I assure you, dear brothers and sisters, that prayer will produce in you the same effect which once led to the custom of calling priests and consecrated persons simply “spirituals” (Geistliche).

Bishop Sailer of Regensburg once said that priests should be first and foremost spiritual persons. I would like to see a revival of the word “Geistliche”.

More importantly, though, the content of that word should become a part of our lives: namely, that in following the Lord, we become, by the power of the Spirit, “spiritual” men and women.

Austria (Österreich) is, in an old play on words, truly Klösterreich: a realm of monasteries and a land rich in monasteries. Your ancient abbeys whose origins and traditions date back many centuries are places where “God is put first”. Dear friends, make this priority given to God very apparent to people!

As a spiritual oasis, a monastery reminds today’s world of the most important, and indeed, in the end, the only decisive thing: that there is an ultimate reason why life is worth living: God and his unfathomable love.

And I ask you, dear members of the faithful: see your abbeys and monasteries for what they are and always wish to be: not mere strongholds of culture and tradition, or even simple business enterprises. Structure, organization and finances are necessary in the Church too, but they are not what is essential.

A monastery is above all this: a place of spiritual power.

Coming to one of your monasteries here in Austria, we have the same impression as when, after a strenuous hike in the Alps, we finally find refreshment at a clear mountain spring… Take advantage of these springs of God’s closeness in your country; treasure the religious communities, the monasteries and abbeys; and make use of the spiritual service that consecrated person are willing to offer you!"


The whole speech is reported here.