Rorate Caeli

On the Feast of Saint Benedict, Father of Europe

It is in times like ours that God raises great men.

Like a star in the darkness of night, Benedict of Nursia brilliantly shines, a glory not only to Italy but of the whole Church. Whoever considers his celebrated life and studies in the light of the truth of history, the gloomy and stormy times in which he lived, will without doubt realize the truth of the divine promise which Christ made to the Apostles and to the society He founded "I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world." At no time in history does this promise lose its force; it is verified in the course of all ages flowing, as they do, under the guidance of divine Providence. But when enemies assail the Christian name more fiercely, when the fateful barque of Peter is tossed about more violently and when everything seems to be tottering with no hope of human support, it is then that Christ is present, bondsman, comforter, source of supernatural power, and raises up fresh champions to protect Catholicism, to restore it to its former vigor, and give it even greater increase under the inspiration and help of heavenly grace. ...
In such a mighty storm and universal upheaval, from where did hope shine? Where did help and protection arise in order to save humanity and what was left of its treasures from shipwreck? It came from the Catholic Church. All earthly institutions begun and built solely on human wisdom and human power, in the course of time succeed one another, flourish and then quite naturally fail, weaken and crumble away; but the organization which Our Redeemer established has received from its divine Founder unfailing life and abiding strength from on high.
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The special and chief task that seemed to have been given to him in the designs of God's providence was not so much to impose on the West the manner of life of the monks of the East, as to adapt that life and accommodate it to the genius, needs and conditions of Italy and the rest of Europe. ... Thus the special norms of eremitic life and their particular precepts, which were generally not very certain or fixed and often depended on the wish of the superior, gave way to Benedictine monastic law, outstanding monument of Roman and Christian prudence. In it the rights, duties and works of the monks are tempered by the benevolence and charity of the Gospel.
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During a dark and turbulent age, when agriculture, honorable crafts, the study of the fine arts profane and divine were little esteemed and shamefully neglected by nearly all, there arose in Benedictine monasteries an almost countless multitude of farmers, craftsmen and learned people who did their utmost to conserve the memorials of ancient learning and brought back nations both old and new -- often at war with each other -- to peace, harmony and earnest work. From renascent barbarism, from destruction and ruin they happily led them back to benign influence human and Christian, to patient labor, to the light of truth, to a civilization renewed in wisdom and charity. ...

Furthermore, all the classes of society, if they studiously and seriously examine the life, teaching and glorious achievements of St. Benedict, cannot but fall under the influence of his gentle but powerful inspiration; indeed they will spontaneously recognize that even our age troubled and anxious for the vast material and moral ruins, perils and losses that have been heaped up, can borrow from him the needed remedies. But before all, let them remember and consider that the sacred principles of religion and its norms of conduct are the safest and soundest foundations of human society; if they are disregarded and compromised, everything that promotes order, peace and prosperity among men and nations, as an almost necessary consequence, gradually collapses.
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Given at Rome, at St. Peter's, on the feast of St. Benedict, the twenty-first day of March, in the year 1947, the ninth of Our Pontificate.
Pius XII
March 21, 1947

2 comments:

Andrew said...

Here is a great video about the Benedictine monks at Christ in the Desert speaking about their life and the glories of traditional Gregorian chant. Its very well done.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5YY684ZXDE

Dear Editor: You may like to post this great video as a posting for all to see. Thank you for the great blog!

Rufino said...

It is truly a shame and a crime Monte Cassino was thus bombed and ravaged. Rage fills me when i think about it. Sorry but i must say it. I do hope the gallant Schlegel received some papal decoration. Holy Father Benedict pray for us.