Posts Tagged ‘Father Raniero Cantalamessa’

Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, January 12, 2019 — “He must increase; I must decrease.”

January 11, 2019

Here John shows the essence of humility, which has many forms. In what ways do I exemplify humility?

Image result for Jesus and his disciples in Judea,, art, pictures

Detail of “The Charge to Peter” by James Tissot.

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Saturday after Epiphany
Lectionary: 217

Reading 1 1 JN 5:14-21

Beloved:
We have this confidence in him
that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask,
we know that what we have asked him for is ours.
If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly,
he should pray to God and he will give him life.
This is only for those whose sin is not deadly.
There is such a thing as deadly sin,
about which I do not say that you should pray.
All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly.We know that anyone begotten by God does not sin;
but the one begotten by God he protects,
and the Evil One cannot touch him.
We know that we belong to God,
and the whole world is under the power of the Evil One.
We also know that the Son of God has come
and has given us discernment to know the one who is true.
And we are in the one who is true,
in his Son Jesus Christ.
He is the true God and eternal life.
Children, be on your guard against idols.
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Responsorial Psalm  PS 149:1-2, 3-4, 5-6A AND 9B

R. (see 4a)  The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Sing to the LORD a new song
of praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in their maker,
let the children of Zion rejoice in their king.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Let them praise his name in the festive dance,
let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD loves his people,
and he adorns the lowly with victory.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Let the faithful exult in glory;
let them sing for joy upon their couches;
Let the high praises of God be in their throats.
This is the glory of all his faithful. Alleluia.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R.  Alleluia.

Alleluia MT 4:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light,
on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death
light has arisen.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  JN 3:22-30

Jesus and his disciples went into the region of Judea,
where he spent some time with them baptizing.
John was also baptizing in Aenon near Salim,
because there was an abundance of water there,
and people came to be baptized,
for John had not yet been imprisoned.
Now a dispute arose between the disciples of John and a Jew
about ceremonial washings.
So they came to John and said to him,
“Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan,
to whom you testified,
here he is baptizing and everyone is coming to him.”
John answered and said,
“No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven.
You yourselves can testify that I said that I am not the Christ,
but that I was sent before him.
The one who has the bride is the bridegroom;
the best man, who stands and listens for him,
rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice.
So this joy of mine has been made complete.
He must increase; I must decrease.”

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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12 JANUARY, 2019, Saturday after the Epiphany

THE JOY OF RECONCILING MAN WITH GOD

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [  1 JOHN 5:14-21PSALM 149:1-69JOHN 3:22-30 ]

Christmas celebrates the gift of God to us in the person of Jesus.  In assuming our humanity, Jesus reveals to us our identity as children of God.  Indeed, God became man so that man could become god.  However, many of us fail to recognize our dignity as children of God and as a consequence do not live as one.   This is because of sin.  Indeed, our sins prevent us from being conscious of our identity as sons and daughters of God.

St John in the first reading warns us of the danger of sin.  “Every kind of wrong-doing is sin, but not all sin is deadly.”  The truth is that a man begins by committing small sins.  If such things spring from his wounded nature and the manifestation of his human weakness, it is a venial sin.  Such sins are normally committed because of temptations and the weakness of the will to resist sin.   Such sins can be forgiven through prayers and the reception of the sacraments.  This is why, St John says, “If anybody sees his brother commit a sin that is not a deadly sin, he has only to pray, and God will give life to the sinner – not those who commit a deadly sin; for there is a sin that is death, and I will not say that you must pray about that.”

However, the sins that really destroy us are those deliberate sins which we purposefully seek to commit, knowing full well that it is a sin.  When such sins are planned and a person chooses to go against God’s will and hurt his neighbours, it is a serious sin leading to death.  Hence, we call them mortal sins.  St Paul says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Rom 6:23)  The truth is that one begins with a small sin and then we become more daring and commit bigger sins because our hearts and minds are clouded by our sins and selfishness.  After some time, what is sinful and serious is no longer felt in our conscience.  We become dead to sin and as the consequence of sin, we hurt ourselves more and more by hurting others.

Once we commit a serious sin, unless we repent and turn to God in contrition, it will lead to a repetition of our sins.  This is what the Lord warns us.  That is why a sin of lust will lead to another and more serious sin of lust. Jesus taught, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  (Mt 5:27f)  An act of anger will lead to revenge and eventually killing.  “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (Mt 5:21f)

Prayers will help a person to grow in holiness and be attuned to the will of God.  “We are quite confident that if we ask the Son of God for anything, and it is in accordance with his will, he will hear us; and, knowing that whatever we may ask, he hears us, we know that we have been granted what we ask of him.”   St John is saying that Christ will hear our prayers if we pray in accordance with His will.  Indeed, all prayers are directed towards finding and doing the will of God.  Many of us think that prayer is to change the mind of God.  Rather, prayer is to align ourselves with His holy will, which is always best for us.  That is why, if our prayers are to be answered, we need to be obedient to His will.  Indeed, we must ask whatever the Lord wants of us.  Jesus said, “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”  (Jn 14:13f) To ask in the name of Jesus is to ask everything for His sake and for the glory of His name.  Therefore, there is nothing more effective in growing in holiness than through prayers and intimacy with the Lord.

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Prayers will help us to know Jesus.  Knowledge of Jesus is the key to overcoming our sins because using our will is not sufficient because the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.  St Paul struggled with sin himself.  “Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  (Rom 7:21-25)  Indeed, through our own strength alone, we cannot be delivered from sin except in the power of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faith in Jesus’ love and mercy helps us to conquer sin, not out of fear of punishment but out of love for the Lord.

This is what St John meant when he wrote that if we are baptized, we will not sin.  “We know that anyone who has been begotten by God does not sin, because the begotten Son of God protects him, and the Evil One does not touch him.”  It does not mean that Christians can no longer sin.  What St John meant is that we do not sin deliberately because of God’s spirit in us.  But we will still sin out of weakness.  However, we do not fall into despair but continue to trust in the mercy of God, knowing that He has won victory over sin.  “We know that we belong to God, but the whole world lies in the power of the Evil One. We know, too, that the Son of God has come, and has given us the power to know the true God. We are in the true God, as we are in his Son, Jesus Christ.”   This is what baptism is all about.  We have Jesus in the gospel baptizing in the river Jordan.  To be baptized is to ask for forgiveness of our sins and most of all, to be filled with the Spirit of Jesus so that we can share in His sonship.

Today, like John the Baptist, we are called to direct sinners to the Lord.  Today, it is very difficult to convince people of the truth because of relativism.  We are bombarded with all kinds of philosophy and reasoning.  There is so much information and so many viewpoints on any issue that many of us are more confused than ever after reading all the different views.  We no longer know what is right or wrong anymore.  When reasoning and all arguments fail, the sure way to get people to accept Jesus is to lead them to Him.  If they know Jesus and if they fall in love with Him, then they will be able to see everything from the perspective of our Lord in the scriptures.  So instead of seeking to reason out with those who are disagreeable, although, it still might be necessary at times to defend our faith, yet, the better approach is through the testimony of our lives and our faith. Only through a life of holiness and faith in our Lord, can we convince others to come to Him so that He can be the Lord of their lives.

For this reason, we must pray for sinners even as we seek to reach out to them in compassion and love.  Our Lady, in all her apparitions, constantly urged us to repent and pray for sinners.  If words cannot change them, then prayers will change their hearts through God’s grace.  It is not enough just to pray for physical health and material needs.  If the body is important, how much more important is the soul because that soul is destined for eternal life.  We need to pray for the salvation of souls so that united with the Lord, they are saved for eternity, not just for this world.  If God answers prayers for material and physical needs, more so, He will hear our prayers for the conversion of sinners.

Indeed, like John the Baptist, great is our joy when we bring a sinner to Jesus to be reconciled with God.  “The bride is only for the bridegroom; and yet the bridegroom’s friend, who stands there and listens, is glad when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. This same joy I feel, and now it is complete.”  In bringing sinners back to God, we also save our own souls.  St James wrote, “My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”  (Jms 5:19f)  Indeed, like John the Baptist, we must be conscious of our role as mediator to Jesus.  Once that is done, we should move aside and not be an obstacle for others to come to know the Lord.  With John the Baptist, we say, “I myself am not the Christ; I am the one who has been sent in front of him. He must grow greater, I must grow smaller.”

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore 

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Reflection from Lectio Divina

Both John the Baptist and Jesus indicated a new way to the crowds. But Jesus, after having adhered to the movement of John the Baptist, and after having been baptized by him, advanced a step ahead and created His own movement. He baptized  people  in the Jordan River when John the Baptist was also doing it. Both of them attracted the poor and abandoned people of Palestine by announcing the Good News of the Kingdom of God.

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• Jesus, the new preacher, had a certain advantage over John the Baptist. He baptized more people and attracted more disciples. Thus, a tension arose between the disciples of John and those of Jesus, concerning the “purification,” that is, concerning the value of baptism. The disciples of John the Baptist experienced a certain envy and went to John to speak to him and informed him about the movement of Jesus.

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• John’s  response to his disciples is a beautiful response, which reveals his great spirit. John helps his disciples to see things more objectively. He uses three arguments: a) Nobody receives anything which is not given by God. If Jesus does such beautiful things, it is because he receives them from God (Jn 3:27). Instead of having envy, the disciples should feel joy. b) John reaffirms once again that he, John, is not the Messiah but only the precursor (Jn 3:28). c) In the end, he uses a comparison taken from the wedding feast.

At that time, in Palestine, on the day of the wedding, in the house of the bride, the so called “friends of the bridegroom” waited for the arrival of the bridegroom to present him to the bride. In this case, Jesus is the bridegroom, the crowd is the bride, John the friend of the bridegroom. John the Baptist says that, in the voice of Jesus, he recognizes the voice of the bridegroom and can present him to the bride, to the crowds. At this moment, the bridegroom, the people, leave the friend of the bridegroom and follow Jesus, because they recognize in Him the voice of their bridegroom! And for this reason the joy of John is great, “complete joy”. John wants nothing for himself! His mission is to present the bridegroom to the bride! The last sentence summarizes everything: “He must increase, I must decrease!” This statement is also the program for anyone  who follows Jesus.

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• At the end of the first century, in Palestine as well as in Asia Minor, where there were some communities of Jews, there were also people who had been in contact with John the Baptist or who had been baptized by him (Acts 19:3). Seen from outside, the movement of John the Baptist and that of Jesus were very similar to one another. Both of them announced the coming of the Kingdom (cf. Mt 3:1-2; 4:17). There must have been some confusion between the followers of John and those of Jesus. And because of this, the witness of John about Jesus was very important.

The four Gospels are concerned about transmitting the words of John the Baptist saying that he is not the Messiah. For the Christian communities, the Christian response, John’s response, “He must increase but I must decrease” was valid not only for the disciples of John at the time of Jesus, but also for the disciples of the Batiste or Cambric community of the end of the first century.

http://ocarm.org/en/content/lectio/lectio-divina-john-322-30

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Homily By Pastor Mark Driscoll

How odd would it be if you attended a wedding in which the star of the show was one of the groomsmen? Imagine if he demanded to be at the center of the photos, stood in front of the pastor for the ceremony, cut the cake, and had the first dance.

That would be incredibly awkward and wrong. Why? Because that is not his place.

Humility literally means, “to know your place.” Being humble requires knowing and accepting your place. None of us can say we are humble, but we should seek to say that we are pursuing humility by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Before Jesus started His ministry, John the Baptizer’s ministry began and got off to a rocket-ship launch. Before long, some of the people and leaders following John left him and started following Jesus instead. Some of John’s leaders were a bit miffed, so they brought their concerns to John. John’s response is amazing. In humility, he says that Jesus is the groom, the Church is the bride, and he was just the groomsman there to help – he’s not the star of the show.

The phenomenon of people leaving one ministry for another is nothing new. When someone transitions, some people immediately think it’s a bad thing and start to blame others. Sometimes the leader, ministry, or person leaving is tagged as bad.

John reveals that sometimes it is good for a person to transition from one ministry to another. Jesus and John the Baptizer were both good leaders with good ministries, and the people moving to Jesus’ ministry from John’s were seemingly good people. John rightly saw this as a good thing.

At the end of the day, people belong to God, not to the human leaders in a ministry. Sometimes, God moves people from one ministry to another because they are needed. This is precisely what John is saying – that the people were being sent by God to help Jesus, which is a good thing. This is a healthy model for handling transition in a godly way.

Are you more prone to encourage or criticize other ministries? If God calls you to move from one ministry to another, how can you do that in a healthy and godly way?

https://markdriscoll.org/he-must-increase-i-must-decrease/

Related:

More later….

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Bishops Describe Retreat With Father Raniero Cantalamessa

By Carol Zimmermann 
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Although the weeklong retreat for U.S. Catholic bishops emphasized quiet reflection, several bishops spoke out on social media during the retreat and after it wrapped up Jan. 8 with positive reaction about it and to give shoutouts to the retreat leader, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, who has preached to popes and top officials of the Roman Curia for nearly 40 years.

One bishop said listening to Father Cantalamessa was akin to being in the presence of the early Christian theologians. “Clear, intensely filled with the Holy Spirit, and all for the Kingdom of God,” Auxiliary Bishop Michael J. Boulette of San Antonio said in a tweet. “Let us continue to pray for one another, our church and our world. A blessing to be here!”

Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the official preacher of the papal household, delivers the homily to U.S. bishops during Mass Jan. 3 in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at Mundelein Seminary during the bishops’ Jan. 2-8 retreat at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Illinois, near Chicago. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Anchorage, Alaska, tweeted that the retreat leader was a “true instrument of the Lord” and that the Holy Spirit was at work during the retreat.

Bishop Lawrence T. Persico of Erie, Pennsylvania, described Father Cantalamessa’s talks and homilies as “powerful and engaging.”

He tweeted that he was glad they had time to reflect and pray about their role as shepherds, stressing: “We must start there to be able to offer healing. I am taking this very seriously but feeling positive.”

Boston Auxiliary Bishop Mark W. O’Connell said it was a “truly blessed experience” to be on retreat with Father Cantalamessa and fellow U.S. bishops.

“The Holy Spirit was powerfully present, and I was quite moved,” he tweeted. He also thanked the pope for giving the bishops this gift.

Pope Francis suggested the bishops hold the retreat and offered the services of the 84-year-old Father Cantalamessa, who has served as preacher of the papal household since 1980. The time of prayer Jan. 2-8 at Mundelein Seminary at the University of St. Mary of the Lake near Chicago was planned largely in response to last summer’s revelations of allegations of sex abuse that reached the highest levels of the U.S. church.

In a Jan. 8 column for Angelus News, the archdiocesan news outlet of Los Angeles, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles said the bishops’ retreat leader focused “our attention on the vocation and responsibility of bishops in this moment in the church.”

“We are praying together as a visible sign of our unity as bishops and our communion with the Holy Father. There is a collegial spirit here and a firm commitment to address the causes of the abuse crisis we face and continue the work of renewing the church,” he added.

The archbishop said Father Cantalamessa asked them to “trust more in the Holy Spirit. We need to have confidence that we are always living in God’s loving presence.”

Auxiliary Bishop F. Richard Spencer of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services listens to the homily during Mass Jan. 3 in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception during the bishops’ Jan. 2-8 retreat at Mundelein Seminary at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Illinois, near Chicago. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, wrote a few blog posts about the retreat with some reflection about the retreat leader’s message.

 

He said they heard about the need to emphasize in their preaching the fundamental belief in Jesus before delving into his message and teachings.

He also said Father Cantalamessa emphasized the need to root out “love of money” and all that it implies, including material possessions, honor or power.

“If this pursuit for ‘money’ needs to be rooted out from our Christian lives, then we need to embrace a true spirit of detachment,” the bishop wrote, adding that he would add more to that topic in the days ahead.

The theme of the U.S. bishops’ retreat was “the mission of the apostles and of their successors” drawing from Mark 3:14, which says Jesus “appointed 12 — whom he also named apostles — that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach.”

Reflections from the retreat do not seem to be about the crisis in particular, maybe for a reason.

In an email to Catholic News Service weeks before the retreat, Father Cantalamessa said he would “not talk about pedophilia and will not give advice about eventual solutions; that is not my task and I would not have the competence to do so.”

“The Holy Father asked for my availability to lead a series of spiritual exercises for the episcopal conference so that the bishops, far from their daily commitments, in a climate of prayer and silence and in a personal encounter with the Lord, can receive the strength and light of the Holy Spirit to find the right solutions for the problems that afflict the U.S. church today,” he added.

In a Jan. 9 column for the Chicago Catholic, the archdiocesan newspaper, Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich said the pope’s intention for the retreat went beyond “this particular moment or challenge facing us bishops.”

“We are not leaving this retreat with all the answers to the important questions facing the church in these days,” he wrote, but he said the bishops now have a renewed sense of the importance of taking their cues from “Christ’s spirit rather than our own efforts.”

Another blessing from the week, he said, was being drawn closer to each other and to the pope.

“I have no doubt that just as the early church relied on Peter’s unique ministry to meet the challenges of the day, so we will draw strength and insight from our unity with his successor,” he said.

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

Source:https://cnstopstories.com/2019/01/10/bishops-describe-their-retreat-as-inspiring-spirit-filled/

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Fr. Cantalamessa: Homily at Celebration of Lord’s Passion (FULL TEXT) 2018

March 31, 2018

“He Who Saw It Has Borne Witness”

© Vatican Media

Pope Francis on Good Friday, March 30, 2018, presided over the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord in St. Peter’s Basilica.  The homily was presented by the preacher of the Pontifical Household, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa.

The Vatican-provided text of the homily:

When they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness – his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth -that you also may believe. (Jn 19:33-35).

No one could convince us that this solemn attestation does not correspond to historical truth, that the one who says he was there and saw it was really not there and did not see it. What is at stake, in this case, is the honesty of the author. On Calvary, at the foot of the cross, was the mother of Jesus and next to her, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” We have the testimony of an eye-witness!

He “saw” not only what was happening as everyone looked on, but in the light of the Holy Spirit after Passover he also saw the meaning of what happened: in this moment the true Lamb of God was sacrificed and the meaning of the ancient Passover was fulfilled; Christ on the cross was the new temple of God from whose side, as the prophet Ezekiel predicted (47:1ff), flowed the water of life; the spirit that he gave up at the moment of death began the new creation, just as in the beginning “the Spirit of God,” hovering over the waters, had transformed the chaos in the cosmos. John understood the meaning of Jesus’ last words: “It is fulfilled” (see Jn 19:30).

But why, we can ask ourselves, this unbounded concentration on the significance of the cross of Christ? Why is the Crucified One omnipresent in our churches, on altars, and in every place frequented by Christians? Someone has suggested, as a key to understanding the Christian mystery, that God reveals himself “sub contraria specie,” under a form contrary to what he is in reality: he reveals his power in weakness, his wisdom in foolishness, his riches in poverty.

This key, however, does not apply to the cross. On the cross God reveals himself “sub propria specie,” he reveals himself as he really is, in his most intimate and truest reality. “God is love,” John writes (1 Jn 4:10), oblative love, a love that consists in self-giving, and only on the cross does God’s infinite capacity for self-gift manifest the length to which it will go. “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (Jn 13:1); “God so loved the world that he gave [meaning to death!] his only Son” (Jn 3:16); “The Son of God . . . loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20).

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In this year in which the Church will hold a Synod on Young People and aims to have them as the center of pastoral concern, the presence on Calvary of the disciple that Jesus loved holds a special message. We have every reason to believe that John joined Jesus when he was still quite young. It was a real falling in love. Everything else suddenly took second place. It was a “personal,” existential encounter. Whereas at the center of Paul’s thinking is the work of Jesus—his paschal mystery of death and resurrection—at the center of John’s thinking is the being, the person, of Jesus. This is the source of all the “I am” statements with divine resonance that punctuate his Gospel: “I am the way, the truth, and the life”; “I am the door”; simply “I am.”

John was almost certainly one of John the Baptist’s two disciples who, when Jesus appeared on the scene, followed him. When they asked, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Jesus answered, “Come and see.” “They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour” (see Jn 1:35-39). That hour decided the course of John’s life, and he never forgot it.

It is appropriate during this year that we make an effort to discover together with young people what Christ expects from them, what they can offer the Church and society. The most important thing, however, is something else: it is to help young people understand what Jesus has to offer them. John discovered it while staying with him: “fullness of joy” and “abundant life.” Let us do this in such a way that, in all the speeches about young people and to young people, the heartfelt invitation of the Holy Father in Evangelii Gaudium will resonate as an undercurrent:

I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord” (EG, n. 3).

To encounter Christ personally is still possible today because he is risen; he is a living person, not a personage. Everything is possible after this personal encounter; without it, nothing will be stable or enduring.

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Besides the example of his life, the evangelist John has also left a written message to young people. In his First Letter we read these moving words from an elder to the young people in the churches he founded:

I write to you, young men because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. Do not love the world or the things in the world. (1 Jn 2:14-15)

The world that we must not love and to which we should not be conformed, as we know, is not the world created and loved by God or the people in the world whom we must always go out to meet, especially the poor and those at the lowest level of society. “Blending in” with this world of suffering and marginalization is, paradoxically, the best way of “separating” ourselves from the world because it means going in the direction from which the world flees as much as it can. It means separating ourselves from the very principle that rules the world, self-centeredness.

No, the world we must not love is something else; it is the world as it has become under the dominion of Satan and sin, the “spirit of the air,” as St. Paul calls it (see Eph 2:1-2). It plays a decisive role in public opinion, and today it is literally a spirit “of the air” because it spreads itself in infinite ways electronically through airwaves. One famous exegete writes that this spirit “is so intense and powerful that no individual can escape it. It serves as a norm and is taken for granted. To act, think or speak against this spirit is regarded as non-sensical or even as wrong and criminal. It is ‘in’ this spirit that men encounter the world and affairs, which means they accept the world as this spirit presents it to them.”1

This is what we call an adaptation to the spirit of the age, conformity. One great believing poet from the last century, T. S. Eliot, has written three verses that say more than whole books: “In a world of fugitives / The person taking the opposite direction / Will appear to run away.”2 Dear young Christians, if you will allow an old man like John to address you directly, I would exhort you: be those who take the opposite direction! Have the courage to go against the stream! The opposite direction for us is not a place but a person; it is Jesus, our friend, and redeemer.

A task and a mission are particularly entrusted to you: to rescue human love from the tragic drift in which it had ended up: love that is no longer a gift of self but only the possession—often violent and tyrannical—of another. God revealed himself on the cross as agape, the love that gives itself.

But agape is never dissociated from eros, from a love that welcomes, that pursues, that desires, and that finds joy in being loved in return. God not only exercises “charity” in loving us, he also desires us; throughout the Bible, he reveals himself as a loving and jealous spouse. His love is also “erotic” in the noble sense of that word. This is what Benedict XVI explained in his encyclical Deus Caritas est:

Eros and agape—ascending love and descending love—can never be completely separated. . . . Biblical faith does not set up a parallel universe, or one opposed to that primordial human phenomenon which is love, but rather accepts the whole man; it intervenes in his search for love in order to purify it and to reveal new dimensions of it. (nos. 7-8)

It is not a question of renouncing the joys of love, attraction, and eros but of knowing how to unite eros and agape in the desire for another, the ability to give oneself to the other, recalling what St. Paul refers to as a saying of Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

This ability, however, does not come about in one day. It is necessary to prepare yourselves to make a total gift of self to another creature in marriage, or to God in consecrated life, beginning by making a gift of your time, of your smile, and of this period of your lives in the family, in the parish, and in volunteer work. This is what so many of you are already quietly doing.

On the cross Jesus not only gave us an example of self-giving love carried to the extreme; he also merited the grace for us to be able to bring it to pass, to some extent, in our lives. The water and blood that flowed from his side comes to us today in the sacraments of the Church, in God’s word, and even in just looking at the Crucified One in faith. One last thing John saw prophetically at the cross: men and women of every time and place who were turning their gaze to “the one who was pierced” and who wept tears of repentance and of consolation (see Jn 19:37 and Zac 12:10). Let us join them in the liturgical actions that will follow.

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[1] Heinrich Schlier, Principalities and Powers in the New Testament (New York: Herder and Herder, 1961), pp. 31-32.[2] T. S. Eliot, Family Reunion, Part II, sc. 2, in The Complete Plays of T. S. Eliot (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014), p.110.English Translation by Marsha Daigle Williamson

https://zenit.org/articles/fr-cantalamessa-homily-at-celebration-of-lords-passion-full-text/

Related:

Good Friday 2018 Serrmon By Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa: “God desires us. His love is also ‘erotic’ in the noble sense of that word.” — “‘Blending in’ with this world of suffering and marginalization is, paradoxically, the best way of ‘separating’ ourselves from the world…”

March 31, 2018

 

Pope’s preacher today once again fills a singular slot

Capuchin Father Rainero Cantalamessa, Preacher of the Papal Household. (Credit: CNS.)

ROME – In a deliberately provocative turn of phrase, the Preacher of the Papal Household on Good Friday told worshippers in St. Peter’s Basilica, including Pope Francis, that the love revealed by Christ on the Cross wasn’t just about sacrifice and self-giving – it was also erotic.

“God not only exercises ‘charity’ in loving us, he also desires us,” said Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, delivering the traditional Good Friday meditation.

“Throughout the Bible, he reveals himself as a loving and jealous spouse,” Cantalamessa said. His love is also ‘erotic’ in the noble sense of that word.”

Cantalamessa said the understanding of love today has suffered a “tragic drift,” which is forever contradicted by Christ on the Cross. Love, he said, is no longer “a gift of self, but only the possession – often violent and tyrannical – of the other.”

By way of contrast, he said, God’s love is always both eros and agape – both desire for the other, but also a willingness to sacrifice for them.

“It is not a question of renouncing the joys of love, attraction, and eros, but of knowing how to unite eros and agape in the desire for another, the ability to give oneself to the other, recalling what St. Paul refers to as a saying of Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’,” he said.

Now 83, Cantalamessa has served as the Preacher of the Papal Household for 38 years, having been appointed to the post by St. Pope John Paul II in 1980. Since 1753, it’s been reserved by papal edict to the Capuchins, the fourth largest men’s religious order in the Catholic Church after the Jesuits, Salesians and Franciscans.

(As a footnote, the name “Cantalamessa” in Italian literally means, “sing the Mass.”)

Cantalamessa’s comments on the erotic element of God’s love came in his homily during the Good Friday service, in the context of reflections on young people in a year in which Pope Francis has called a summit of Catholic prelates from around the world, known as a Synod of Bishops, to Rome in October.

A recent March 19-24 gathering of more 300 youth in Rome, buoyed by the participation of 15,000 more young people via Facebook, was intended to provide input to that synod.

RELATED: Youth leaders in Rome struck by ‘polarized’ American climate

Speaking about the upcoming summit, Cantalamessa expressed hope that, “in all the speeches about young people and to young people,” rather than focusing primarily on what youth can offer others, the accent will be instead on what Jesus offers them.

“It is appropriate during this year that we make an effort to discover together with young people what Christ expects from them, what they can offer the Church and society,” he said. “The most important thing, however, is something else: It is to help young people understand what Jesus has to offer them.”

The Capuchin preacher urged youth to take the evangelist St. John as a role model, since, according to tradition, he was quite young when he took up the call to follow Jesus. In particular, he pointed to John’s counsel to “not love the world or the things in the world.”

“The world that we must not love and to which we should not be conformed, as we know, is not the world created and loved by God or the people in the world whom we must always go out to meet, especially the poor and those at the lowest level of society,” he said.

“‘Blending in’ with this world of suffering and marginalization is, paradoxically, the best way of ‘separating’ ourselves from the world, because it means going in the direction from which the world flees as much as it can,” Cantalamessa said.

“It means separating ourselves from the very principle that rules the world, self-centeredness,” he said.

It’s that self-centeredness from which Cantalmessa urged youth to flee, however counter-cultural doing so may be. To drive the point home, he cited the American-born poet T.S. Eliot: “In a world of fugitives, the person taking the opposite direction will appear to run away.”

Later tonight, Pope Francis will preside over the annual Via Crucis process at Rome’s Colosseum, recalling the steps of Christ on his way to the Cross, and which this year also has a focus on youth.

On Saturday, the pontiff will lead an Easter Vigil Mass beginning at 8:30 p.m. Rome time. On Sunday, he’ll celebrate a Mass for Easter morning in St. Peter’s Square, then deliver his traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing, “to the city and the world,” at noon. Generally, popes use those addresses to deliver a sort of 360-degree review of the global situation, often indicating their most pressing diplomatic and political priorities.

https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2018/03/30/papal-preacher-says-gods-love-isnt-just-sacrifice-its-erotic-too/

Related:

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Peace and Freedom Note: There is a lot of Christian literature that speaks to the nature of the love between God and man. Many authors refer to the erotic or jealous love — as Fr Cantalamessa did on Good Friday.

See also:

Why Sexual Metaphors of Jesus and His Bride Embarrass Us

https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/why-sexual-metaphors-of-jesus-and-his-bride-embarrass-us

Many Americans prefer to think of God as the father in the “Prodigal Son” parable.

Image may contain: 1 person

Book: “Return of the Prodigal Son,” by Henri Nouwen. Nouwen says the book should have been called “Return to the All Loving, All Forgiving Father.”

Art by Rembrandt.

Pope Says Christians Being Killed by Islamic State, Other Radical Jihad Groups are Modern Christian Martyrs

April 6, 2015

Pope Calls on World to Defend Modern Christian Martyrs

Reuters

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis called on the world to give tangible help to persecuted Christians on Monday, highlighting the plight of people he described as modern “martyrs” after nearly 150 people were killed by Islamist militants in Kenya.

Addressing crowds in bright sunshine at St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican after four days of special Easter services, the pontiff listed the evils inflicted on people for their faith and exhorted the international community to act.

“These are our martyrs of today, and they are many. We can say that there are more of them now than there were in the early centuries. I hope the international community does not look on, mute and inert, at such an unacceptable crime,” Francis said.

In Kenya on Thursday, gunmen from the al Qaeda-aligned group al Shabaab targeted Christians for execution after storming the Garissa University College campus, some 200 km (120 miles) from the Somali border.

Kenyan churches have responded to the attack by hiring armed guards, as the massacre resonated throughout the Catholic Church’s weekend commemoration of Jesus’s crucifixion.

Francis has expressed alarm about the targeting of Christians for their faith, and decried incidents including the decapitation of 21 Egyptian Copts in Libya in February.

Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap.

During Monday’s address, he called for “concrete participation and tangible help to defend and protect our brothers and sisters who are persecuted, exiled, killed, beheaded, solely because they are Christians”.

The leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics has said the international community would be justified in using military force as a last resort to stop “unjust aggression” perpetrated by Islamic State militants.

The Vatican’s official preacher, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, said on Friday there was a “disturbing indifference” among world institutions and in public opinion to the killing of Christians, mentioning the bloodshed in Kenya and Libya.

(Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Related:

On Good Friday, Official Homilist of Pope Francis Decries International Indifference to Persecution and Murder of Christians

April 3, 2015

 

Pope Francis kneels as he leads the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion in Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican April 3, 2015. REUTERS/Max Rossi

(Reuters) – Pope Francis presided at a Good Friday service where he heard the Vatican’s official preacher accuse the international community of indifference to the persecution of Christians, a day after Islamist militants attacked a university in Kenya, killing at least 147 people.

Father Raniero Cantalamessa, whose title is “preacher of pontifical household,” referred to the attack, in which the Al Shabaab militants initially killed indiscriminately but later freed some Muslims and targeted Christian students during a siege that lasted about 15 hours.

The long “Passion of the Lord” service, during which the pope prostrated in prayer on the marble floor of St. Peter’s Basilica on the day Christians commemorate Jesus’ crucifixion, is one of the few times he listens while someone else preaches.

Cantalamessa weaved his sermon around the plight of Christians today.

“Christians are of course not the only victims of homicidal violence in the world, but we cannot ignore that in many countries they are the most frequently targeted victims,” he said.

Cantalamessa denounced “the disturbing indifference of world institutions and public opinion in the face of all this killing of Christians …”.

Besides the Kenya killings, he mentioned the beheading of 22 Egyptian Coptic Christians last February by Islamic State militants in Libya.

Later on Friday, the second of four days of papal activities culminating on Easter Sunday, Francis was due to lead a candlelight “Way of the Cross” procession around the ruins of Rome’s Colosseum.

On Saturday night, the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholic celebrates an Easter Eve service in St. Peter’s Basilica and on Sunday he delivers his twice yearly “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) blessing and message.

The pope earlier on Friday condemned the Kenyan university attack as “senseless brutality”.

Francis has expressed alarm over the plight of Christians targeted for their faith and has said the international community would be justified in using military force as a last resort to stop “unjust aggression” by Islamic State.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Larry King)

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Image result for Father Raniero Cantalamessa, photos

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Text of Father Raniero Cantalamessa’s Sermon in the Vatican, Good Friday, April 3, 2015

We have just heard the account of Jesus’ trial before Pilate. There is one point in particular in that account on which we need to pause.

Then Pilate took Jesus and scourged him. And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and clothed him in a purple robe; they came up to him, saying, “Hail King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. . . . So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” [Ecce Homo!] ( Jn 19:1-3, 5)

Among the innumerable paintings that have the Ecce Homo as their subject, there is one that has always impressed me. It is by the sixteenth-century Flemish painter, Jan Mostaert. Let me try to describe it. It will help imprint the episode better in our minds, since the artist only transcribes faithfully in paint the facts of the gospel account, especially that of Mark (see Mk 15:16-20).

Jesus has a crown of thorns on his head. A sheaf of thorny branches found in the courtyard, perhaps to light a fire, furnished the soldiers an opportunity for this parody of his royalty. Drops of blood run down his face. His mouth is half open, like someone who is having trouble breathing. On his shoulders there is heavy and worn-out mantle, more similar to tinplate than to cloth. His shoulders have cuts from recent blows during his flogging. His wrists are bound together by a coarse rope looped around twice. They have put a reed in one of his hands as a kind of scepter and a bundle of branches in the other, symbols mocking his royalty. Jesus cannot move even a finger; this is a man reduced to total powerlessness, the prototype of all the people in history with their hands bound.

Meditating on the passion, the philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote these words one day: “Christ will be in agony until the end of the world; we must not sleep during this time.” There is a sense in which these words apply to the person of Christ himself, that is, to the head of the mystical body, and not just to its members. Not despite being risen and alive now but precisely because he is risen and alive. But let us leave aside this meaning that is too enigmatic and talk instead about the most obvious meaning of these words. Jesus is in agony until the end of the world in every man or woman who is subjected to his same torments. “You did it to me!” (Matt 25:40). He said these words not only about believers in him; he also said it about every man or woman who is hungry, naked, mistreated, or incarcerated.

For once let us not think about social evils collectively: hunger, poverty, injustice, the exploitation of the weak. These evils are spoken about often (even if it is never enough), but there is the risk that they become abstractions—categories rather than persons. Let us think instead of the suffering of individuals, people with names and specific identities; of the tortures that are decided upon in cold blood and voluntarily inflicted at this very moment by human beings on other human beings, even on babies.

How many instances of “Ecce homo” (“Behold the man!”) there are in the world! How many prisoners who find themselves in the same situation as Jesus in Pilate’s praetorium: alone, hand-cuffed, tortured, at the mercy of rough soldiers full of hate who engage in every kind of physical and psychological cruelty and who enjoy watching people suffer. “We must not sleep; we must not leave them alone!”

The exclamation “Ecce homo!” applies not only to victims but also to the torturers. It means, “Behold what man is capable of!” With fear and trembling, let us also say, “Behold what we human beings are capable of!” How far we are from the unstoppable march forward, from the homo sapiens sapiens (the enlightened modern human being), from the kind of man who, according to someone, was to be born from the death of God and replace him!

* * *

Christians are of course not the only victims of homicidal violence in the world, but we cannot ignore the fact that in many countries they are the most frequently intended victims. The last news was yesterday: 147 Christians killed by the Islamic jihadists from Somalia, in a university campus in Kenya. Those who are concerned about the good reputation of their religion cannot remain indifferent in front of all that. Jesus said to his disciples one day, “The hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God” (Jn 16:2). Perhaps never before have these words found such precise fulfillment as they do today.

A third-century bishop, Dionysius of Alexandria, has left us a testimony of an Easter celebrated by Christians during the fierce persecutions by the Roman emperor Decius:

First we were set on and surrounded by persecutors and murderers, yet we were the only ones to keep festival even then. Every spot where we were attacked became for us a place for celebrations whether field, desert, ship, inn, or prison. The most brilliant festival of all was kept by the fulfilled martyrs, who were feasted in heaven.

This is the way Easter will be for many Christians this year, 2015 after Christ.

There was someone who, in the secular press, had the courage to denounce the disturbing indifference of world institutions and public opinion in the face of all this killing of Christians, recalling what such indifference has sometimes brought about in the past. All of us and all our institutions in the West risk being Pilates who wash our hands.

However, we are not allowed to make any denunciations today. We would be betraying the mystery we are celebrating. Jesus died, crying out, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34). This prayer was not simply murmured under his breath; it was cried out so that people could hear it well. Neither is it even a prayer; it is a peremptory request made with the authority that comes from being the Son: ”Father, forgive them!” And since he himself had said that the Father heard all his prayers (see Jn 11:42), we have to believe that he heard this last prayer from the cross and consequently that the crucifiers of Christ were then forgiven by God (not of course without in some way being repentant) and are with him in paradise, to testify for all eternity to what extremes the love of God is capable of going.

Ignorance, per se, existed exclusively among the soldiers. But Jesus’ prayer is not limited to them. The divine grandeur of his forgiveness consists in the fact that it was also offered to his most relentless enemies. The excuse of ignorance is brought forward precisely for them. Even though they acted with cunning and malice, in reality they did not know what they were doing; they did not think they were nailing to the cross a man who was actually the Messiah and the Son of God! Instead of accusing his adversaries, or of forgiving them and entrusting the task of vengeance to his heavenly Father, he defended them.

He presents his disciples with an example of infinite generosity. To forgive with his same greatness of soul does not entail just a negative attitude through which one renounces wishing evil on those who do evil; it has to be transformed instead into a positive will to do good to them, even if it is only by means of a prayer to God on their behalf. “Pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44). This kind of forgiveness cannot seek recompense in the hope of divine punishment. It must be inspired by a charity that excuses one’s neighbor without, however, closing one’s eyes to the truth but, on the contrary, seeing to stop evildoers in such a way that they will do no more harm to others and to themselves.

We might want to say, “Lord, you are asking us to do the impossible!” He would answer, “I know, but I died to give you what I am asking of you. I not only gave you the command to forgive and not only an heroic example of forgiveness, but through my death I also obtained for you the grace that enables you to forgive. I did not give the world just a teaching on mercy as so many others have. I am also God and I have poured out for you rivers of mercy through my death. From them you can draw as much mercy as you want during the coming jubilee year of Mercy.”

***

Someone could say, “So then, does following Christ always mean surrendering oneself passively to defeat and to death?” On the contrary! He says to his disciples, “Be of good cheer” before entering into his passion: “I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). Christ has overcome the world by overcoming the evil of the world. The definitive victory of good over evil that will be manifested at the end of time has already come to pass, legally and de facto, on the cross of Christ. “Now,” he said, “is the judgment of this world” (Jn 12:31). From that day forth, evil is losing, and it is losing that much more when it seems to be triumphing more. It has already been judged and condemned in its ultimate expression with a sentence that cannot be appealed.

Jesus overcame violence not by opposing it with a greater violence but by enduring it and exposing all its injustice and futility. He inaugurated a new kind of victory that St. Augustine summed up in three words: “Victor quia victima: “Victor because victim.” It was seeing him die this way that caused the Roman centurion to exclaim, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mk 15:39). Others asked themselves what the “loud cry” emitted by the dying Jesus could mean (see Mk 15:37). The centurion, who was an expert in combatants and battles, recognized at once that it was a cry of victory.

The problem of violence disturbs us, shocks us, and it has invented new and horrendous forms of cruelty and barbarism today. We Christians are horrified at the idea that people can kill in God’s name. Someone, however, could object, “But isn’t the Bible also full of stories of violence? Isn’t God called ‘the Lord of hosts’? Isn’t the order to condemn whole cities to extermination attributed to him? Isn’t he the one who prescribes numerous cases for the death penalty in the Mosaic Law?”

If they had addressed those same objections to Jesus during his life, he would surely have responded with what he said regarding divorce: “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so” (Mt 19:8). The same is true for violence: “at the beginning it was not so.” The first chapter of Genesis presents a world where violence is not even thinkable, neither among human beings themselves nor between people and animals. Not even to avenge the death of Abel, and therefore punish a murderer, is it permissible to kill (see Gen 4:15).

God’s true intention is expressed by the commandment “You shall not kill” more than by the exceptions to that command in the law, which are concessions to the “hardness of heart” and to people’s practices. Violence, along with sin, is unfortunately part of life, and the Old Testament, which reflects life and must be useful for life as it is, seeks through its legislation and the penalty of death at least to channel and curb violence so that it does not degenerate into personal discretion and people then tear each other apart.

Paul speaks about a period of time that is characterized by the “forbearance” of God (see Rom 3:25). God forbears violence the way he forbears polygamy, divorce, and other things, but he is preparing people for a time in which his original plan will be “recapitulated” and restored in honor, as though through a new creation. That time arrived with Jesus, who proclaims on the mount, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if anyone strikes you on the right check, turn to him the other also. . . . You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:38-39, 43-44).

The true “Sermon on the Mount” that changed history is not, however, the one spoken on a hill in Galilee but the one now proclaimed, silently, from the cross. On Calvary Christ delivers a definitive “no” to violence, setting in opposition to it not just non-violence but, even more, forgiveness, meekness, and love. Although violence will still continue to exist, it will no longer—not even remotely—be able to link itself to God and cloak itself in his authority. To do so would make the concept of God regress to primitive and crude stages in history that have been surpassed by the religious and civilized conscience of humanity.
* * *

True martyrs for Christ do not die with clenched fists but with their hands joined in prayer. We have had many recent examples of this. Christ is the one who gave the twenty-one Coptic Christians beheaded in Libya by ISIS this past February 22 the strength to die whispering the name of Jesus.

Lord Jesus Christ, we pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in the faith and for all the Ecce Homo human beings who are on the face of the earth at this moment, Christian and non-Christian. Mary, at the foot of the cross you united yourself to your Son, and you whispered, after him, “Father, forgive them!” Help us overcome evil with good, not only on the world scene but also in our daily lives, within the walls of our homes. You “shared his sufferings as he died on the cross. Thus, in a very special way you cooperated by your obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the work of the Savior.” May you inspire the men and women of our time with thoughts of peace and mercy. And of forgiveness. Amen.

______________________

Translated from Italian by Marsha Daigle Williamson

1. Blaise Pascal, ”The Mystery of Jesus,” #552, in Pensées (New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1958), 148.
2.Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science III, 125.
3.Eusebius, The History of the Church, VII, 22, 4, trans. G. A. Williamson (New York: Penguin Books, 1965), 236-237.
4.Ernesto Galli della Loggia, “L’indifferenza che uccide” [“The Indifference That Kills”], in Corriere della sera, July 28, 2014, p. 1.
5.Augustine, Confessions, X, 43.
6.See the Passion Play An Impossible God by Frank Topping.
7.See René Girard, Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World (Stanford , CA: Stanford University Press, 1987).
8.Cf. Lumen gentium, no. 61.