When you have become God’s in the measure He wants, He, Himself, will know how to bestow you on others. Unless He prefer, for thy greater advantage, to keep thee all to himself. – Saint Basil
Happy Pro Orantibus Day — to hermits and lay professed, yes, but most especially to our cloistered monastic friends, male and female, whose profession is so essential to the world, yet so little understood or appreciated as the increasingly utilitarian world asks, “But “what is the use of monasticism?.
The world wants everything to be immediate and apparent, but the world is also larger and holds more reality than we can readily see. There are things visible and invisible.
So, what is Pro Orantibus Day? And why today?
In 1997 Pope Saint John Paul II recommended that an ecclesial event be observed worldwide on November 21, the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Presentation in the Temple — a day meant to especially remember and thank those in the cloistered and monastic life (who live “in the Temple”, as it were) for serving as “a leaven of renewal and of the presence of the spirit of Christ in the world.” It is also intended to remind others of the need to provide both spiritual and material support “for those who pray.”
Pope Benedict XVI addressed the idea of monasticism in a utilitarian world, in a 2006 address:
Indeed, these brothers and sisters of ours bear a silent witness to the fact that in the midst of the sometimes frenetic pace of daily events, the one support that never topples is God, the indestructible rock of faithfulness and love. “Everything passes, God never changes”, the great spiritual master Teresa of Avila wrote in one of her famous texts. And in the face of the widespread need to get away from the daily routine of sprawling urban areas in search of places conducive to silence and meditation, monasteries of contemplative life offer themselves as “oases” in which human beings, pilgrims on earth, can draw more easily from the wellsprings of the Spirit and quench their thirst along the way. Thus, these apparently useless places are on the contrary indispensable, like the green “lungs” of a city: they do everyone good, even those who do not visit them and may not even know of their existence. Dear brothers and sisters, let us thank the Lord, who in his Providence has desired male and female cloistered communities. May they have our spiritual and also our material support, so that they can carry out their mission to keep alive in the Church the ardent expectation of Christ’s Second Coming. For this, let us invoke the intercession of Mary, whom we contemplate on the Memorial of her Presentation in the Temple as Mother and model of the Church, who welcomes in herself both vocations: to virginity and to marriage, to contemplative life and to active life.
What can you do to observe Pro Orantibus Day? First, pray for all monastics — so often people forget that “those who pray” need prayers as well. Second, visit a monastic blog or website and see what they can use, materially, to help sustain themselves and maintain their mission. Buy their wares and monastery-generated products, which are usually superior to mass-produced merchandise, and cheaper, too.