Cantalamessa: Following the spirit is not lingering, but rather an openness to the new

Cantalamessa: Following the spirit is not lingering, but rather an openness to the new

The Cardinal preached the first Lenten sermon of the Roman Curia in the Paul VI Hall: when it is done in the Holy Spirit, “compromise is not a concession or a discount to the truth, but alms and obedience to positions.”

L’Osservatore Romano

The history and life of the Church did not stop at Vatican II: “Woe to that” what was attempted to do with the Council of Trent, that is, “the finish line and an unshakable goal.” This is what Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa said during the first sermon of Lent on the theme “Innovative Ipsa novitas: renewal of the new”, which took place this morning, Friday, March 3, in Paul VI Hall.

If the life of the Church stops, said the preacher of the papal family, “it will happen like a river reaching a barrier: it will inevitably turn into a quagmire or quagmire.” In this regard, the Capuchin cardinal recalled the thought of Origen who, in the third century, noted that it was not sufficient to “renew only once. We need to renew the same modernity ». St. Irenaeus, the new Doctor of the Church, followed the same line, writing: The revealed truth is like “a precious liqueur in a precious vessel. Through the action of the Holy Spirit, it is continually renewed and makes the vessel that contains it renewed.” The “vessel” containing the revealed truth, the cardinal explained, is “the living Tradition of the Church.” in the Church, which is the most correct definition of Tradition.” Indeed, the Spirit is “inherently new.”

After all, even society “did not come to a standstill in the time of Vatican II, but rather underwent an appalling acceleration.” Changes that once took place “happened in a century or two, now take place in a decade.” This need for continuous renewal “is nothing but the need for a continuous conversion, which extends by the individual believer to the entire Church in its human and historical components.” Reforms of the Ecclesiastical Church.
The real problem, then, is nothing new. Rather, it lies in the way of dealing with it.” In fact, every novelty and every change exists «at a crossroads. It can take two opposite paths: either the path of the world or the path of God: either the path of death or the path of life. Now, there is an “infallible way to walk the path of life and light every time: the Holy Spirit.”

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The Cardinal highlighted how the intention of the Lenten Meditations is precisely to encourage the placement of the Holy Spirit at the center of all the life of the Church and, in particular, at this moment, at the heart of the work of the Synod. Specifically, the aim of this first sermon is to gather the lesson that comes from the fledgling church. In fact, the Acts of the Apostles show a community “led step by step by the Spirit. His guidance is not only practiced in big decisions, but also in small matters.”

Of course, the path of the nascent church is not a straight and smooth one. “The first great crisis,” Cantalamessa recalls, “is that of the admission of nations.” and the decision made by the apostles in Jerusalem to welcome Gentiles into the community “was resolved by these extraordinary opening words: ‘It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us’ (Acts 15:28)”.

It is not a matter of doing “church archaeology, but of always shedding light again on the paradigm of each ecclesiastical choice.” It is not difficult, in fact, to “see the similarity between the openness made at that time to the Gentiles, and the openness imposed today on the laity, especially women, and other classes of people.”

In this sense, the example of the Apostolic Church “illuminates us not only on inspired principles, that is, in doctrine, but also on ecclesiastical practice”, because “it tells us that not everything is resolved by decisions made in a synod, or by decree”; There is a need to “translate these decisions into practice, the so-called” reception “of dogmas.” And for this we need “time, patience, dialogue, tolerance. Even sometimes compromise”: furthermore, when made in the Holy Spirit, “compromise is not a concession or discount of truth, but love and obedience to situations”.

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In all the events mentioned by the cardinal, Peter appears “clearly as the mediator between James and Paul, that is, between a concern for continuity and a concern for novelty.” In this mediation, “we are witnessing an incident that can help us even today.” It happens that Paul “at Antioch rebukes Peter for hypocrisy because he avoided sitting at table with converted pagans.” According to the preacher, the “conservatives” of that time blamed Peter for “going too far, going to the pagan Cornelius”; But Paul “rebukes him for not going far enough.”

However, Peter had no “sin of hypocrisy” at all. The evidence is that on another occasion, “Paul would do himself exactly what Peter did in Antioch”: in Lystra his companion Timothy was circumcised “because – as it is written – of the Jews who were in those regions (Acts 16:3), that is, so as not to offend anyone.” And he wrote to the Corinthians that he “became a Jew with the Jews for the profit of the Jews” (1 Cor. 9:20).
The mediating role played by Peter between the “opposing tendencies of James and Paul” continues today “in his successors.” Certainly not—and that is “helpful to the Church”—”in a uniform manner in all of them, but according to the gift of each individual which the Holy Spirit—and presumably the cardinals under him—considered most necessary at a particular moment in the history of the Church.”

In the face of events and “political, social and ecclesiastical realities, we – the preacher confessed – are pushed to take an immediate stand and demonize the other side, to desire the victory of our choice over the choice of our opponents.” He noted that if a war breaks out, “everyone prays to God himself to give victory to his armies and to destroy the armies of the enemy.” not “that it forbids preferences in the political, social, theological, etc., or that it is possible not to have them”; However, one should never “ask God to take our side against the adversary.” nor “we must ask who governs us”.

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Cantalamessa remembers that, this year, we are celebrating the fourth centenary of the death of Saint Francis de Sales, who lived in an era also marked by bitter controversies. In this sense, we must all become Salesians: “compromising and tolerant, less firm in our personal certainties,” realizing how often “we had to admit within ourselves that we were wrong about a person or situation, and how often we also had to adapt.” with positions.

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