Called to Reflect the Face of Christ and His Mercy

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The June 20th daily edition of L'Osservatore Romano contained an article on the ordination of two Olivetan Benedictine Monks of the Abbey of Santa Maria del Pilastrello in Lendinara. The title caught my attention immediately: Chiamati a riflettere il Volto di Cristo e la sua misericordia come figli di San Benedetto Called to reflect the Face of Christ and His Mercy as Sons of Saint Benedict.

Addressing Dom Nicola Bellinazzo and Dom Gabriele Ferrarese, the two monks to be ordained, one to the priesthood and the other to the diaconate, His Excellency, Mons. Lucio Soravito de Franceschi, bishop of Adrio-Rovigo, said:

Remaining Monks

You must never forget that, first of all, you are and you remain monks. The Council, in the decree on religious life, Perfectae Caritatis, affirms that "the principal duty of monks is the humble and noble service of the Divine Majesty within the walls of the monastery, either by dedicating themselves entirely to divine worship in a hidden life, or by taking on some legitimate work of the apostolate or of Christian charity."

Passion for Holiness

The monk, therefore, is before all else a man of prayer, who pursues with singular and total dedication the dialogue with God. From the ordination to Sacred Orders, he receives yet another motive to make the passion for the holiness of God burn in his heart. Like the prophet, he stands in the presence of the Lord to hear His word, and after having received it and meditated it at length, he proclaims it with his life, with his gestures, and in welcoming his brethren.

In the Church

The monk-priest — although living separated from the world — by means of the Eucharist enters into the depths of the mystery of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, and carried by the immense current of Trinitarian charity . . . vivifies the world and permeates every human event with divine grace.

Eucharistic Rhythm

By means of the Eucharist, the monk-priest finds himself, as Saint Thérèse of Lisieux wrote, in the heart of the Church: of the universal Church and of our local Church. He recalls that that heart of the Church beats with a Eucharistic rhythm, that is the rhythm of love . . . .

Pardon and Peace

To his brethren who are seeking God and who desire to recover peace with Him, the monk-priest is called to announce God's merciful love and to give His pardon through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Reflection of the Face of Christ

To those who desire to "see Jesus," the monk-priest is called to manifest Christ, becoming more each day a "reflection" of His Face, through the joyful witness of his faith.

I have rarely heard a bishop express so well the specific vocation of the monk-priest at the heart of the Church.

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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