VATICAN CITY, 24 JUN 2010 (VIS) - Following his visit to the Don Orione Centre in Rome's Monte Mario district, the Holy Father moved on to the nearby Dominican convent of Santa Maria del Rosario in Monte Mario where he presided at the celebration of the Middle Hour (hora media) with the cloistered nuns.
The convent houses the seventh-century icon of the Virgin "Hagiosoritissa", known as Our Lady of St. Luke, as well as precious relics of St. Dominic, St. Catherine of Siena and other Dominican saints.
"You, who are well aware of the effectiveness of prayer", he told the nuns in his address, "daily experience how many graces of sanctification it can obtain for the Church".
Benedict XVI encouraged the religious "to be grateful to Divine Providence for the sublime and gratuitous gift of the monastic vocation, to which the Lord called you without any merit on your part".
"The contemplative life which, from the hands of St. Dominic, you received in the form of the cloister, makes you living and vital members in the heart of the Lord's mystical body which is the Church. And just as the heart causes the blood to circulate and keeps the entire body alive, so your hidden lives with Christ, imbued with work and prayer, contribute to maintaining the Church, the instrument of salvation for all mankind whom the Lord redeemed with His Blood".
Through prayer, the Pope went on, you present "the Almighty with the spiritual and material needs of so many of our brothers and sisters in difficulty, the lost lives of those who have abandoned the Lord. How can we not be moved by compassion for those who seem to drift without a goal? How can we not desire that their lives may encounter Jesus, Who alone gives meaning to existence?"
"Ensure then", he continued his remarks to the nuns, "that in everything you do, beyond the time you dedicate to prayer, your hearts continue to be guided by the desire to love God. ... This is the horizon of the earthy pilgrimage. This is your goal. You have chosen to live in obscurity and to renounce earthly goods in order to desire above all other things the good that has no equal, the precious pearl for which it is worth abandoning all else".
The Holy Father concluded by inviting the religious "to pronounce your 'yes' to the designs of God every day, with the same humility as that with which the Blessed Virgin pronounced her 'yes'".
Following the visit, the Pope returned to the Vatican.
BXVI-VISIT/ VIS 20100624 (440)