Monastic life should remind Christians to place nothing before love of God, Pope says

Pope Benedict XVI told members of the Vatican Congregation dedicated to helping consecrated religious that monastic life must challenge the faithful to love God before all else. The Holy Father also pointed to the Scriptures as the way to deepen love for God.

Addressing the full assembly of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, which is celebrating its hundredth anniversary, Pope Benedict turned to the theme of the meeting: "Monastic life and its significance in the Church and the world today."

Those who are consecrated are a "special part of the People of God," the Holy Father said, as he encouraged the Congregation to continue "supporting and protecting their faithfulness to the divine call."

Benedict XVI then focused on a theme that he first raised during his visit to France this past September—"seeking God," or in Latin, "quaerere Deum."

Touching on the fact that monks and nuns should live their vocations for the good of the whole Church, the Pope highlighted the "exemplary nature of monastic life in history, and underlined how its aim is both simple and essential." The goal of monastic life, he said, is to seek God and to do so "through Jesus Christ Who revealed Him."

"When consecrated people live the Gospel radically, when people dedicated to an entirely contemplative life profoundly cultivate the nuptial bond with Christ ... then monasticism can, for all forms of religious and consecrated life, become a reminder of what is of essential and primary importance for all the baptized: seeking Christ and placing nothing before His love," the Pope said.

Undertaking this lifelong journey, the Holy Father said, requires that consecrated people dive into "His own Word, abundantly present in the books of Sacred Scripture for mankind to reflect upon." This can be done by making the Word of God our daily sustenance, especially through the practice of 'lectio divina’," the Pope said referencing the recent Synod on the Bible.

The Holy Father concluded his words by expressing the hope that "monasteries may increasingly become oases of ascetic life, where the allure of the nuptial union with Christ is felt, and where the choice of the Absolute ... is immersed in a climate of constant silence and contemplation."