Benedict XVI on Monasticism

Monastic life is “a reminder of that which is essential and has primacy in the life of all the baptized: to seek Christ and place nothing before his love,” the pope said during a meeting Nov. 20 with members of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

“In virtue of the absolute primacy reserved to Christ, monasteries are called to be places in which space is made for the celebration of the glory of God, where one adores and chants the mysterious but real presence of the divine in the world and where one tries to live the new commandment of love and mutual service,” the pope said.

The pope prayed that every monastery would be an “oasis of ascetic life” where outsiders could see how attractive it is to dedicate one’s whole life to Christ “in a climate of silence and contemplation.”

Unless monks and nuns “live the Gospel in a radical way” and are dedicated to contemplation, he said, they cannot be truly monastic and their witness will not be effective. (CNS)

Read in full in CBCP News.

Historical Trivia: After the year 1000 A.D., the abbot of Cluny has jurisdiction over 10,000 monks, distributed through 300 houses in various countries. Next to Rome, Cluny was regarded as the ecclesiastical capital of Europe; and the head of the congregation ranked as a sovereign, with complete control of an immense domain and with the right to mint money and to make war.*

–Joseph McSorley, An Outline of History of The Church by Centuries: From St. Peter to Pius XII (Herder, Bingham, 1944), pp. 310-311.

*Sounds like the cleric class in Dungeons and Dragons.