Tag Archives: Europe

Pacis Nuntius: St Benedict as “exemplar and type of absolute beauty”

Why is Saint Benedict so important for us today? Why spend so much energy trying to promote his cause and to recall his influence upon civilization? One answer is: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” You may want to read “Translating St Benedict” by Dom Hugh of Douai Abbey (UK) who does a fine job at locating a piece of our interest.

I also think it’s a good day to remember that Europe –and the USA– needs its heavenly patron to get it out of the moral, political and human confusion that is wreaking havoc today. I wonder what life in the USA would be like if we had a “new” Benedict? The Servant of God Pope Paul VI wrote Pacis Nuntius (1964), an Apostolic Letter by which he names Saint Benedict as the principle patron of all of Europe. In this document we read in an abbreviated form why Abbot and Saint Benedict was important not only to the Pope, but to a continent.

In everlasting memory

Paul VI in Montecassino.jpg

Messenger of peace, molder of union, magister of civilization, and above all herald of the religion of Christ and founder of monastic life in the West: these are the proper titles of exaltation given to St. Benedict, Abbot. At the fall of the crumbling Roman Empire, while some regions of Europe seemed to have fallen into darkness and others remained as yet devoid of civilization and spiritual values, he it was who, by constant and assiduous effort, brought to birth the dawn of a new era. It was principally he and his sons, who with the cross, the book and the plow, carried Christian progress to scattered peoples from the Mediterranean to Scandinavia, from Ireland to the plains of Poland (Cf. AAS 39 (1947), p. 453). With the cross; that is, with the law of Christ, he lent consistency and growth to the ordering of public and private life. To this end, it should be remembered that he taught humanity the primacy of divine worship through the “opus Dei”, i.e. through liturgical and ritual prayer. Thus it was that he cemented that spiritual unity in Europe, whereby peoples divided on the level of language, ethnicity and culture felt they constituted the one people of God; a unity that, thanks to the constant efforts of those monks who followed so illustrious a teacher, became the distinctive hallmark of the Middle Ages.

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Spouses are to help each other follow a path of sanctity, Pope Benedict teaches

St Bridget of Sweden.JPGOn Wednesday, October 27, Pope Benedict XVI noted that in
the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, the Venerable Servant of God John Paul II
proclaimed Saint Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373), co-patroness of the whole of
Europe. It’s the hope of all of us, as Benedict indicated, that Saint Bridget
“…can intercede effectively before God, to obtain the much-awaited grace of the
full unity of all Christians. We want to pray … for this same intention, which
we consider so important, so that Europe will be able to be nourished from its
own Christian roots, invoking the powerful intercession of St. Bridget of
Sweden, faithful disciple of God, co-patroness of Europe.”

In his address the
Pope noted something that I think is quite interesting, perhaps quite bold to
say, even if it is the teaching of the Church, that married couples are to help
each other get to heaven: “to advance in the Christian life.” Our Catholic
teaching on marriage is that man and woman are to form a “conjugal
” that is “follow a path of sanctity.”
 The two pertinent paragraphs
of a longer address are here:

“Bridget, spiritually guided by a learned
religious who initiated her in the study of the Scriptures, exercised a very
positive influence on her own family that, thanks to her presence, became a
true “domestic church.” Together with her husband, she adopted the
Rule of the Franciscan Tertiaries. She practiced works of charity towards the
indigent with generosity; she also founded a hospital. Together with his wife,
Ulf learned to improve his character and to advance in the Christian life
. On
returning from a long pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, taken in 1341 with
other members of the family, the spouses matured the plan to live in
continence, but shortly after, in the peace of a monastery to which he had
retired, Ulf concluded his earthly life.

Cristina & Renzo Oct 24 2010.jpg

The first period of Bridget’s life
helps us to appreciate what today we could define an authentic “conjugal
spirituality”: Together, Christian spouses can follow a path of sanctity,
supported by the grace of the sacrament of Marriage
. Not infrequently, as
happened in the lives of St. Bridget and Ulf, it is the wife who with her
religious sensibility, with delicacy and gentleness, is able to make the
husband follow a path of faith. I am thinking, with recognition, of so many
women who, day in day out, still today illumine their families with their
testimony of Christian life
. May the Spirit of the Lord fuel the sanctity of
Christian spouses, to show the world the beauty of marriage lived according to
the values of the Gospel: love, tenderness, mutual help, fecundity in
generating and educating children, openness and solidarity to the world,
participation in the life of the Church

When was the last time you heard a priest speak of marriage in such a beautiful way? That husband and wife not only love each other, raise children, and are active members of the Church but also see to it that the other spouse intimately know the person of Jesus Christ. How important it is to realize that we have to help each other see God face-to-face!!! When we learn the lesson that indeed heart to speaks to heart in marriage in Christ, then will the renewal of the Church happen.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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