Spiritual Super Powers: Monks of Norcia and Card. Sarah

I am reading Card. Sarah’s new book “The Power of Silence: against the dictatorship of noise”.  It is profound.  What a tonic for the confused pabulum we are getting from… elsewhere.

I got a note from the Benedictine monks of Norcia – who make great beer – about the visit of Card. Sarah to their earthquake stricken digs.

“It reminds me of Bethlehem.”

With these words, Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship at the Vatican, brought consolation and inspiration to the ears of his listeners — the 10 monks of San Benedetto in Monte. In the early hours of October 22, we gathered together for the Cardinal’s blessing of our temporary living quarters.

After sprinkling the kitchen, scriptorium, beds and chapel, he declared gently but powerfully: “I am certain that the future of the Church is in the monasteries… because where prayer is, there is the future.”

Planned long before the earthquake, His Eminence’s visit for a speech to the local lay chapter of the Association of St. Benedict, Patron of Europe, became the occasion for a visit to the damaged buildings and personal time with the monks. After assisting at Conventual Mass in choir, the Cardinal brought his gentle tone and gracious words to an informal gathering of the entire monastic community and answered our questions with candor and depth, reminding us that, just as Pope Benedict XVI has given us an example of the importance of prayers, we are called to be men of prayer for the entire Church, to help bring up to heaven all who encounter us in one broad sursum corda.

This delightful visit was no doubt the highlight of the week, but as we prepared for it we also cleaned the property and enjoyed an intense mountain hike to explore the 17th century stone walls surrounding the property. We were searching for the best places to pray — and for a spot to picnic!
Other discoveries this week have included the surprise donation of a gas stove top from a local restaurant. Monks in town made a fraternal visit to the Benedictine monastery of S. Pietro in Perugia which has often hosted our monks while they study Italian. The leaves are now changing color and the mountainside of Norcia reminds of autumn in New England. We know many there and throughout the world are praying for us and as winter comes closer, know that your prayers are appreciated as we now have roofs over our heads and a warm fire. Deo Volente, we might just have our church of San Benedetto in Monte open by Christmas. A new Bethlehem indeed.

We produce below a transcript of the Cardinal’s words to the monks at San Benedetto in Monte following the blessing:

Thank you for this welcome, for the prayer this morning, and for asking me to bless this house, which reminds me of Bethlehem, where it all began. Salvation began in Bethlehem, in absolute poverty, and I think that we should follow Christ in this, in His poverty, which is also the humility of God. God is humble, God is poor, but He is rich in love. To live here means that your heart is full of the love of God, for you cannot live with God without loving him. Love is at the center of all of our work. This is why the revelation that Jesus gives us says that the Lord, our Father, is love, and that everything we do comes from love, above all.

I ask that this be a place of love for the Lord. I am certain that the future of the Church is in the monasteries, because where prayer is, there is the future. Where there is no prayer, there is disaster, division, war. Perhaps I am not an optimist, but I see that a church that doesn’t pray is a disastrous church. Since you are a church that prays, the whole of the Church is here.

So I thank you for your commitment, for this manifestation of your love, for the expression of your love in continuous prayer. Pray for the Church, pray for the Holy Father, for his collaborators and for me. I promise you now that I am familiar with your home, that I will always pray for you and ask the Lord to continue to send you more young men to join your life that serves the Lord in prayer, in silence and, above all, in solitude.

Thank you, pray for me. I promise to pray for you. And if the Lord gives me life, perhaps I will return to see your new home. But never forget poverty, never forget humility, and if your house is beautiful, remain always humble and poor. Thank you.

– Robert Cardinal Sarah –
October 22, 2016

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Thank you! (I wonder how many languages the Cardinal speaks?)

  2. benedetta says:

    How lovely, and encouraging!

  3. HighMass says:

    Hopefully our next Pope!

  4. SanSan says:

    Oh Father this was wonderful to read. My husband and I got to spend Holy Thursday and Good Friday with the Monks. Father Cassin gave us a private teaching on the Gospel for Easter prior to our Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday at St. Peters with the Pope! We were so worried about them all, then so relieved that they were not hurt during the earthquake. Cdl. Sarah is our hope for the future, just like the monks and their prayer keeps our Church alive. We also got to meet and speak with this holy Cdl after Mass on Easter Sunday. So blessed are we.

  5. andromedaregina says:

    He radiates the authentic message of Christ. I know authentic might be overused to describe everything from hipster yoga to gluten free diets, but I think it points to something important, that this generation, saturated in falsehoods as it is – false freedoms, false spirituality, false happiness – it does thirst even more so for something real, truthful, meaningful, enduring. Cardinal Sarah exudes real authenticity, in every aspect of his person, from his humble beginnings (maybe especially that), to his even more humble heights. Sheep respond to their shepherd. I’m certain his call could bring back the 99.

  6. Eugene says:

    Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ Your Son and our Saviour please bring Your Holy Shepherd Cardinal Sarah to the chair of Peter as Your Vicar on earth. Please God protect and guide him always from those who have and will harm him for standing for truth and right worship. Dearest Mother Mary please intercede for Cardinal Sarah always and for this intention. Amen.

  7. Benedict Joseph says:

    There is a striking contrast between the authentically warm welcome rendered Cardinal Sarah at Norcia, and the cold fraudulence offered Cardinal Arinze when he visited a monastic community to which I belonged twelve years ago.
    By God’s Grace, may Norcia continue to flourish despite the recent challenge provided by nature.

  8. Sandy says:

    The title of the article says it all, Father, spiritual super powers. It was good to read after the first two entries about war and persecution (which are obviously coming and intensifying), and “catholics” who harm our faith. Heavy reading and all before breakfast! It is necessary to speak the truth, however, because far too many are still oblivious to what goes on around them. The blindness is amazing, but it’s all there in Scripture. God bless and keep you and all clergy safe, Father Z. Thank you for what you do.

  9. jltuttle says:

    Hear! Hear!

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