Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

Let Us Listen First of All to the Voice of Monte Cassino

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What can it say to us, what does it want to say to us, this outstanding monument of religious spirit and of humanity?

Three times it was destroyed and three times it rose again from its ruins, remaining a mystical centre of inexpressible value for Italy, Europe and the world. There came up here the humble and the powerful, saints and sinners, mystics and the desperate.

There came here poets, writers, philosophers and artists.

There arrived here souls thirsty for truth or tormented by doubt, and they found peace and certainty.

Here came defenceless and fugitive multitudes, exhausted and frightened, victims of the storms of the times, and they found refuge and comfort.

Why did these humble or important people flock to Monte Cassino?

Dante Alighieri, as you well know, has St Benedict himself explain it:

"That mount, upon whose slope Cassino lies, / was erst thronged on its summit by people / deceived and ill-disposed. / And I am he who first brought up there the name / of Him who brought to earth that truth / which lifts us so high; / and so great grace shone upon me, that I drew / the places round about / away from the impious cult which seduced the world (Paradise XXII 37-45).

People have always come and continue to come here to meet "the truth which lifts us so high", to breathe a different atmosphere, transcendent and transforming.

Come, therefore, O peoples, to Monte Cassino! Come to meditate on past history and understand the true meaning of our earthly pilgrimage! Come to regain peace and serenity, tenderness with God and friendship with men, to bring back hope and goodness to the frantic metropolises of the modern world, to the anguish of so many tormented and disappointed souls!

Come particularly you, young people, thirsty for innocence, contemplation, interior beauty, pure joy; you who seek the ultimate and decisive meaning of existence and history, come, and recognize and enjoy Christian and Benedictine spirituality, before letting yourselves be attracted by other experiences!

And you, Benedictine Monks, keep alive your spirituality, your mystical contemplation joined with work, understood as a service of God and brothers! Let your deep joy be praise of God by means of the strong and sweet Latin language and the sublime and purifying Gregorian melodies. Be an example to the world by your work in silence and humble obedience.

Pope John Paul II
Address to the Monks of the Abbey of Monte Cassino
May 18, 1979

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2 Responses »

  1. JP II (most) always got it right!
    Love this.
    thanx for posting.

  2. What is it about JP II that has such vigor, such power, and such incisive truth? It is a pity that those who only know him as a "rock star" do not know the power of his writing, shorn of the particularity of any language, but infused with the universality of his mind. Subito Santo, and the more Subito the better, I say.