22 March 2013

Sermon on the Feast of St. Benedict

This sermon, for the Feast of St. Benedict, was delivered by Canon Raphael Ueda of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest:

Feast of St. Benedict

“First of all I would say a prayer for our Benedict XVI. Let us all pray together for him, that The Lord bless him and Our Lady protect him.” With these words, Pope Francis asked all to pray for Emeritus Pope Benedict, during his first public words after his election on March 13.
We are infinitely grateful to Benedict XVI for his ever-illuminating teaching and for giving back to the Church the Traditional Latin Mass. He has strengthened the life of  prayer in the Church. Even though he is now retired in the monastery, we are still sure of his prayer for the good of the Universal Church.

And today we celebrate the feast of St. Benedict whose name Benedict XVI chose as Pope. 

So in the fifth century, young Benedict lived with his family and received his education in Rome. Benedict watched in horror as vice unraveled the lives and morals of his childhood companions as they were instructed in the ways of the world.

Afraid for his soul, Benedict fled Rome, gave up his inheritance, and went to the mountains of Subiaco. There he lived as hermit. After years of prayer, word of his holiness brought nearby monks to ask for his leadership. Benedict warned them that he would be too strict for them, but they insisted, only to then try to poison him when his warning proved true. On his own again, Benedict resumed a life of prayerful solitude in Monte Cassino. It was here he founded the monastery that became the roots of the Church’s monastic tradition. After almost 1500 years of monastic tradition, his system seems still very firm. St. Benedict was a true pioneer for God. What is part of history to us now was then a bold step of faith into the future. 

For prayer, St. Benedict turned to the psalms, the very songs and poems of the Old Testament that Jesus himself, the word made flesh, had prayed each day. Joining our voices throughout the day with our Lord in praise of the Father was so important that Benedict called it the Work of God. And nothing was to be put before his Opus Dei. Immediately upon hearing the signal for the Divine Office, all work would cease. 

For Our Lord said: One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God. Holy Mother Church would eventually adopt the Divine Office as her own official prayer, which she has always explained as an extension of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered by her priests each day. St. Benedict realized the strongest and truest foundation for the power of words was the Word of God itself:  the Prophet Isaias said: "For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but shall do My will, achieving the end for which I sent it.”

St. Benedict instructed his followers to practice sacred reading- the study of the very Scriptures they would be praying in the Work of God. In this lectio divina, he and his monks memorized the scripture, studied it, and contemplated it until it became part of their soul. This sacred reading was a study in love, not just in intellect. Thus each word of God would soak into their minds, their hearts, their very souls, so that the prayers would spring up from the depths of their being, not just from their memory.

Pope Benedict XVI has still lived in the legacy of his teachings and of the restoration of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. 

Pope Francis will go to Castel Gandolfo, about 15 miles outside of Rome, to meet Emeritus Pope Benedict, on March 23, next Saturday, two days from today.

Let us pray so that this historic meeting would be fruitful for the good of the Church. And on our part, let us continue to remain faithful to Christ’s call and his vicar on earth, the successor of St. Peter.


No comments: