Benedict writes about the ‘inner drama of being a Christian’ in new letter – Catholic World Report

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Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI / Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, September 23, 2022 / 5:29 a.m. (CNA).

In new letter, Benedict XVI praises story of woman who experienced ‘inner drama of being a Christian’ and dedicated her life to spiritual encounter with Christ in Eucharistic adoration and other practices .

The pope emeritus wrote that his own personal experience was similar to what Mother Julia Verhaeghe went through in a letter to the author of a new biography.

The writer, Father Hermann Geissler, is a former functionary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and a member of the Spiritual Family “The Work” which Mother Julia founded and which Pope John Paul II designated as a family. of consecrated life in 2001.

In his letter to Geissler, made available to the CNA, Benedict XVI did not hide the fact that he had “the fear that his life could be of little interest as a whole because devoid of any external drama”.

Benedict praised the author for making “visible the inner drama of being a Christian by writing a truly fascinating biography. The outer path of this life, which leads from Belgium through Austria and Hungary to Rome, with a focal point in Austria, becomes a reflection of the inner path by which this woman has been led.

“Thus, the true drama of life becomes visible, which is found above all in the encounter with Paul and, through him, with Christ himself, allowing others to trace him,” added Benedict XVI.

“All the exterior and interior drama of faith is present in his life. The tension depicted here is particularly captivating because it resembles what I have experienced since the 1940s.”

The biography, titled “She Served the Church: Mother Julia Verhaeghe and the Development of the Spiritual Family The Work,” explores the period from 1950 to 2001, from the second post-war period to the recognition of the family, four years after the death of the founder. in 1997.

The book is divided into four parts and includes testimonies, extracts from Mother Julia’s letters and other archival documents. Moreover, the book contextualizes the life and choices of Mother Julia, relating them to the situations of the time, of which Mother Julia was an attentive observer.

In the introduction, Father Thomas Felder and Sister Margarete Binder write that “the following pages speak of a woman who had no particular culture, no good health, no economic means”. Yet, they added, “a fire burned in his heart”.

This fire is the basis of the encounters that shaped his life: first that with Saint Paul; then the one with Pope Pius XII, who appeared to him in a dream and who predicted the Second Vatican Council; finally, the meeting with Cardinal John Henry Newman, with whom “The Work” has a special relationship.

These meetings and these relationships are part of a spiritual journey towards an encounter with Christ. Geissler’s book recounts these encounters with delicacy, without sensationalism, demonstrating that prophecy only comes when one is open to listening.

From the meeting with Pius XII was born a great intuition: the human and humanizing element of the Second Vatican Council will try to take over, going beyond what should be the center of the Church, namely the sacred.

Faced with increasing secularization, the Spiritual Family “The Work”, guided by Mother Julia, has emphasized Eucharistic adoration. It is a daily habit in each house of “L’Œuvre”.

The book also describes how Mother Julia felt the same enthusiasm and concern for a unified Europe, even as Brussels prepared to host Expo 1958. Her perspective has always been one of spiritual renewal, d a return to Christ.

Perhaps there was no outward drama, but the restless soul of Mother Julia that Benedict refers to is good, open to reflection on the issues of the time.

In Geissler’s book, we perceive the constant wonder before the mystery of Christ, which led her, already old, to visit the Holy Land and experience the desert.

The life of Mother Julia told in this book is that of a woman who could look at her time with the concreteness that only comes from contact with God.

Benedict XVI, who turned 95 in April, has often spoke about need for Contact with God and says that the encounter with Jesus was the answer to the challenges of the world.


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