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Brothers in Arms: St. Benedict and St. Francis

© Arturo MARI / OR / CPP

Cardinal Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) meets with Pope Benedict XVI

Fr Dwight Longenecker - published on 03/21/13

As a friar, Francis represents the active religious life. As a monk, Benedict represents the enclosed life of prayer. They’re like the two sisters of Bethany: Francis is the busy Martha, and Benedict, the contemplative Mary. If the Church is going to function as she ought, she needs both. The Body of Christ needs both.

How amazingly providential, then, that we now have two popes: Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict! Pope Benedict following the Benedictine way by retiring to a life of prayer, study and work, while Pope Francis steps on to the world stage to live the life of activity, reform and renewal. The two popes are meeting today, and I am convinced that when Pope Benedict moves to his hermitage in the Vatican, the two of them will meet on a regular basis to support one another as brothers in arms.

Finally, there is a lesson for the whole Church in the two popes: we all need to run on the path of God’s commandments on these two legs: the contemplative and the active. We desperately need more time in prayer, more time in contemplation, more time with God. Then we also desperately need to get up off our knees and move forward to not only “talk the talk” but to “walk the walk” in the great adventure of following Christ the Lord.

Fr Dwight Longeneckeris the author of St Benedict and St Therese–the Little Rule and the Little Way. Visit his blog, browse his books and be in touch at

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