The work of Benedict XVI, everlasting company for contemplatives

The legacy of Joseph Ratzinger goes beyond the time of his pontificate and will continue to illuminate the life of the Church for years to come, explains Mother María Anunciación Ros, abbess of the monastery of Benedictine nuns of Santa Cruz de Sahagún.

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Benedict XVI has passed away, but his spiritual and theological legacy has not, explains Mother María Annunciación Ros, abbess of the Monastery of Benedictine nuns of Santa Cruz de Sahagún. The voice of the emeritus pontiff will resound imperishably in the lives of contemplative monks and nuns.

The nun has totally dedicated her life to God, since she entered the Order at the age of 15 as a postulant in the Order founded by Saint Benedict of Nursia. She entered the monastery at the age of 18. In 2003, she was elected abbess of this monastery founded in 1546.

“With her magisterium”, the mother abbess confides to us with emotion. Benedict XVI “wanted to confirm, strengthen, root… faith in our society, which is so globalized and suspicious of its Christian origins. His writings have illuminated and accompanied the lives of many contemplatives, helping their lives of dedication to prayer ».

Ratzinger’s two contemplative teachers

In particular, Mother María Annunciation recalls the unique relationship between Joseph Ratzinger and two of the great teachers of contemplative monks and nuns.

On the one hand, Ratzinger imprinted an authentic topicality on the thought and spirituality of Saint Augustine of Hippo. Well, as the abbess reminds us, as a theologian she found in him a “tireless seeker of truth” and to him she dedicated her doctoral thesis on the Church.

Besides, Saint Benedict of Nursiainspired his life and pontificate to the point that he took his name as Pope (Benedict and Benedict in Latin are the same name).

In the general audience of April 9, 2008presenting the figure of Saint Benedict, founder of Western monasticism, highlighted how the life of the monk, capable of inspiring the life of all baptized, is fruitful when it becomes a union between action and contemplation.

Prayer is first an act of listening and then it is translated into concrete action, the pontiff recalled.

The Mother Abbess reveals that Joseph Ratzinger spoke of monastic life from experience. “With some frequency, both in Germany and in Rome, he spent a few days in Benedictine abbeys to pray and celebrate the liturgy.”

last conversations

For Mother Mary Annunciation, the book of Benedict XVI, last conversationsan interview with the German journalist Peter Seewald, constitutes a program for the contemplative life.

«Believing is nothing other than, in the night of the world, touching the hand of God in silence, listening to the word, seeing love.«

Benedict XVI – Joseph Ratzinger

In particular, the nun underlines this “impressive phrase”: “Believing is nothing other than, in the night of the world, touching the hand of God in silence, listening to the word, seeing love.”

«The Holy Spirit has gifted the Church with great and holy popes. Among them Benedict XVI, perhaps one of the most intelligent and cultured men of the 20th century”, notes María Anunciación.

“He knew how to fully combine faith and reason – he adds – with that lapidary phrase: ‘Reason will not be saved without faith, but faith without reason will not be human’”.

The legacy of Benedict XVI

As the mother abbess confesses, in her youth the book played a decisive role report on faith. The book-interview of the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger with the journalist Vittorio Messori.

“I was surprised with what clairvoyance and depth he exposed the truths of life and faith and the current world situation – recalls the Benedictine nun -. I read it a second time and then all her teaching. It is of great theological, spiritual and moral richness, expressed with simplicity and clarity”.

Mother Maria Annunciation concludes by leaving us one of her favorite thoughts of Benedict XVI. “We have to free ourselves from the false idea that faith no longer has anything to say to the men of today.”

This phrase synthesizes the reason why the teaching of Joseph Ratzinger will be imperishable.

Detail of stained glass window depicting face of St. Benedict of Nursia
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The work of Benedict XVI, everlasting company for contemplatives