On Monday, in his remarks prior to praying the Angelus, the Pope recalled cloistered religious communities who, on November 21, celebrate the Day <i>pro Orantibus</i>, which is dedicated to them.
"This is a particularly appropriate occasion," said the Pope to the thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, "to give thanks to the Lord for the gift of so many people who, in monasteries and hermitages, dedicate themselves entirely to God in prayer and silence.
"Some people ask themselves," he added, "what meaning and value can the presence of such people have in our time, in which the situations of want and poverty we have to face are so numerous and urgent. Why 'cloister' oneself forever within the walls of a monastery, thus depriving others of one's abilities and experiences? What effect can prayer have for resolving the many concrete problems that continue to afflict humanity?"
Also today, many are surprised by "the people who abandon often promising careers to embrace the austere rule of a cloistered monastery. What is it that pushes them to such a radical step if not having understood, as the Gospel teaches, that the Kingdom of heaven is 'a treasure' for which it is truly worthwhile to abandon everything?"
Such people, the Pope explained, "bear silent witness to the fact that in the midst of the uncertainties of daily life, the only support that never fails is God. And in the face of the widespread need, felt by many, to escape the daily routine of the great urban centers in search of spaces suitable for silence and contemplation, monasteries of contemplative life are like 'oases' in which man, a pilgrim upon earth, can better draw upon the sources of the Spirit and quench his thirst on his journey.
"These places, then, apparently useless, are in fact indispensable. Like the green 'lungs' of a city, they are good for everyone, even for people who perhaps do not know of their existence."
After praying the Angelus, the Pope recalled that today is the day of road accident victims, and he invited everyone to pray for those killed in traffic accidents, entrusting "the injured, many of who are often permanently disabled," to the Virgin Mary. "I tirelessly ask motorists to respect the traffic regulations, and always to pay attention to others," he concluded.