St. Benedict

John Paul II
At the heart of St Benedict’s monastic experience is a Simple, typically Christian principle, which the monk adopts in all its radicalness: to unify one’s life around the primacy of God. This “tenere in unum”, the first, fundamental condition for entering monastic life, must be the commitment unifying the life of the individual and the community, and be expressed in the “conversatio morum” which is fidelity to a life-style lived concretely in daily obedience. The search for Gospel simplicity requires continual examination, that is, the effort “to do the truth”, by constantly returning to the initial gift of the divine call which is at the root of one’s own religious experience.
7 July 1999

Benedict XVI

Today, I would like to emphasize one typical aspect of his spirituality. Benedict, unlike other great monastic missionaries of his time, did not found a monastic institution whose principal aim was the evangelization of the barbarian peoples; he pointed out to his followers the search for God as the fundamental and indeed, one and only aim of life: “Quaerere Deum” [to seek God].
He knew, however, that when the believer enters into a profound relationship with God, he cannot be content with a mediocre life under the banner of a minimalistic ethic and a superficial religiosity. In this light one can understand better the expression that Benedict borrowed from St Cyprian and summed up in his Rule (IV, 21), the monks’ programme of life: “Nihil amori Christi praeponere“, “Prefer nothing to the love of Christ”. Holiness consists of this, a sound proposal for every Christian that has become a real and urgent pastoral need in our time, when we feel the need to anchor life and history to sound spiritual references. July 2005

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