Today’s saint started a new religious community that was based on the Rule of St. Benedict. In time they came to be known as the Camaldolese monks after the location of one of their first monasteries. The life of St. Romuald and his community reminds us of the importance of prayer in the life of the Church and the world. As we pray for European Christians, let us reflect on part of Pope Benedict’s March 10, 2012 homily on the occasion of the 1,000 year anniversary of the Camaldolese order.
The second reading was taken from the Letter to the Colossians. We heard those words – always so moving for their spiritual and pastoral inspiration – that the Apostle addressed to the members of that community in order to form them according to the Gospel, saying to them: “whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col 3:17). “Be perfect”, the Master said to his disciples; and now the Apostle exhorts his listeners to live according to the high measure of Christian life that is holiness. He can do this because the brothers he is addressing are “chosen by God, holy and beloved”. Here too, at the root of everything, is the grace of God, the gift of the call, the mystery of the encounter with the living Jesus. But this grace demands a response from those who have been baptized: it requires the commitment to be reclothed in Christ’s sentiments: tenderness, goodness, humility, meekness, magnanimity, mutual forgiveness, and above all, as a synthesis and a crown, agape, the love that God has given us through Jesus, the love that the Holy Spirit has poured into our hearts. And if we are to be reclothed in Christ, his word must dwell among us and in us, with all its richness and in abundance. In an atmosphere of constant thanksgiving, the Christian community feeds on the word and causes to rise towards God, as a song of praise, the word that he himself has given us. And every action, every gesture, every service, is accomplished within this profound relationship with God, in the interior movement of Trinitarian love that descends towards us and rises back towards God, a movement that finds its highest expression in the eucharistic sacrifice.
On 17 September 1993, during his meeting with the monks of the Sacred Hermitage of Camaldoli, Blessed John Paul II commented on the theme of their imminent General Chapter, “Choosing hope, choosing the future”, with these words: “Choosing hope and the future in the last analysis implies choosing God ... It means choosing Christ, the hope of every human being.” And he continued, “This particularly occurs in that form of life which God himself brought about in the Church, inspiring Saint Romuald to found the Benedictine family of Camaldoli, with its characteristic complementarity of hermitage and monastery, solitary life and cenobitic life in harmony with each other.”