"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

Thursday 31 January 2013

Spiritual Reflection addressed to Benedictine Communities

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is already a month since the end of the Congress of Abbots and the regular daily routine at Sant’Anselmo has begun. I want to fulfil my promise to the abbots and from time to time send not only a report about events at Sant’Anselmo and in the Confederation, but also some spiritual reflections.
In the context of ‘Sentire cum Ecclesia’, of thinking and feeling with the Church, I should like today to start with the most recent event in the Church, the Synod of Bishops on the theme of the 
New Evanglization, during with the Holy Father  proclaimed a Year of Faith. The participants at the synod have composed a message to the faithful in very vivid language. I hope that this will soon be translated into other languages so that it will be accessible to all.

At the begining of this message is the image of the Samaritan woman with Jesus at Jacob’s well. Finally, it is not she who gives Jesus water to drink, rather, he offers her water, but of a completely different, life-giving, kind. Our well is also the Word of the Good News. It is inexhaustible. We imbibe this water in prayerful reading; it transforms us and makes us witness for others. It permits us already to participate in eternal life.

New Evanglization begins with ourselves. We direct our lives completely according to God’s Word, we allow ourselves to be gripped my him, steeped in him and slowly changed so that it no longer we who live but Christ lives in us. This is a slow and difficult process. God has no easy job with us until he can fully give us the gift of his life. 

The approaching season of Advent is a welcome opportunity to reflect on the process of being formed in and by Christ and with this becoming truly human, an opportunity to start to walk this path with courage.This is the only way that we can give true testimony to Christ and his Gospel. This is applies to every one of us, not only personally as individuals but no less to our lives in community. The inner relationship with God that we foster becomes visible in the sincere, loving relationships we have with others. 

Our specifically Benedictine contribution to witness in the Church, - indeed our Benedictine responsibility - is to radiate as communities the love of Christ. ‘Evangelization’, say the Synodal Fathers, ‘is not the task of any one individual, but of the community of the Church as such.’ (n.8)For this transformation in Christ it is not enough simply to experience a rush of hearfelt emotion. 

God also gave us our reason in order better to explore the depths of the mysteries of the Faith. ‘Fides quaerens intellectum – Faith that seeks to understand,’ was the motto of St. Anselm, the patron of our university and college. This means to investigate the revealed mystery with all the capacities of a reason enlightened by faith. Faith must find its place in the human mind and in a university in the form of genuine scholarship and research. That is our goal here in Sant’Anselmo and that must be the goal of all formation and continuing formation  of our brothers and sisters. Our Faith embraces both our complete trust in God as well as our assent to what he has revealed to us in Jesus Christ.

It is not only a question of our own better understanding of ourfaith and a more authentic form of living, but also to become credible and competent partners in dialogue with the searching people of our time. In this we have learn to listen rather than to lecture. Many knock on the doors of our monasteries and guest-houses. They are looking for an answer to their problems or at least a person who can go a stretch of the way with them in understanding. Very often, spiritual and psychological needs are greater than material needs. We have a well from which we can draw a water we can offer 
to others.

At a time when the marketplace is crammed with those offering messages of various kinds, in some cases messages that attack or ridicule our Faith, it is not enough to cut ourselves off: we must involve ourselves wherever the opportunity presents itself in the debates in our various societies.

The Synodal Fathers speak again and again of  a dialogue which is needed on all fronts. This brings with it the risk that we may have no more success than  St. Paul in the Agora at Athens. But even there some found their way to the Faith. It is only through serious philosophical and theological studies, through an interest in and understanding of how our fellow human-beings think, that we acquire the competence necessary for this dialogue. It is also true that our contemporaries need to be addressed in a language they can understand and we will find this language only when we question ourselves and seek our answers from within our own lived Faith.

Like the Fathers of the Church, The Synodal Fathers speak of the grain of truth in other religions, Is it possible to discover similar grains of truth in our secularized environment, in the deisre for honesty and transparency, for justice and solidarity, in concern for and preservation of the natural environment in which future generations are going to have to live?

Dear brothers and sisters, in the New Evanglization we have a mighty task before us, and not just a task but a responsibility. We cannot and may not opt out of this world and withdraw to a comfortable cocooned existence. All of us, according to his or her vocation and manner of life, are challenged to bear witness to the Gospel and to proclaim in the words of St. Paul, ‘ Woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel!’ (1 Cor 9.16). Mission is one of the essential marks of the Church.

I wish you God’s blessing in all your efforts, and remain with fraternal greetings,

+ Notker Wolf OSB
    Abbot Primate
 November, 2012




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