THE CHURCH MUST COMBAT LIES AND DECEIT, IN HERSELF AND IN THE WORLD
Vatican City, 2 March 2012 (VIS) – This year’s meditations during the Lenten spiritual retreat of the Holy Father and the Roman Curia are being guided by Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, who is focusing on the theme of “the communion of Christians with God”. Beginning with the sign of the cross, the cardinal has been reflecting upon God as light, truth, mercy and loving guide, before turning to consider love of the world, lack of faith in Christ and the sin of priests.
The sign of the cross is much more than a habit, it is an “act whereby we add the splendour of knowledge and the dynamism of freedom to our every action”. It is a sign which means “sacrifice for love. It is death for resurrection”. Therefore, it implies the rejection of vanity, prestige, possession and domination, and the consecration of our activity to Christ.
In the context of his meditations upon God as the way, truth and life, Cardinal Monsengwo Pasinya made reference to some of the most dramatic events of our times, such as war, genocide, political violence, abortion and all forms of manipulation of human beings. He also invited his listeners not to remain indifferent “to repression and man’s exploitation of man”, and not to lower their guard, “even if the mystery of sin is beyond us”.
“We must walk in the light”, the cardinal said. “In other words, we must choose to abandon sin” and let the Truth transform our lives via a journey of conversion. Understanding God as truth is particularly important for people “who have no awareness of their own sins, for people who have lost the sense of sin because they no longer pose themselves the problem of God”, and for people who do no longer possess moral criteria and confuse good and evil. This tendency is related to “religious indifference which affirms that all religious are alike but which, in reality, is seeking a lax morality”.
The cardinal warned that priests are not free from these errors, “in the measure to which spiritual barrenness leads them into the same defects”, he said. “Priestly ministry thus becomes mere functionality and has no true sense of God”. The archbishop of Kinshasa also used the example of the Apostles Peter and Judas. The former “was betrayed by his generosity, his attachment to Christ; nonetheless, he fell because he was reckless and exposed himself to danger, although he immediately abandoned the place of his fall and bitterly bewailed his sin”. This is a lesson for all priests. “Our generosity does not protect us from sin. We must be prudent, and not recklessly expose ourselves to the possibility of falling. In all situations, whatever happens, the Lord is always at our side. The biggest affront we can show Him is to doubt in His mercy, as Judas did”.
“To live in truth”, the cardinal said, “is is to live according to the Beatitudes. It means repudiating the lies of our words and actions. It means rejecting the hypocrisy which impels us to appear other than as we are”. The Church too must combat lies and deceit, both within herself and in the world, and struggle “so that the truth of Christ’s Gospel may be known and lived”.
THE FATHERS OF THE CHURCH: MASTERS OF FAITH
Vatican City, 2 March 2012 (VIS) – The Prefecture of the Pontifical Household yesterday made known the theme of this year’s Lenten sermons which, as is customary, will be preached on four consecutive Fridays in the presence of the Pope, beginning on 9 March. That theme, taken from the Letter to the Hebrews, is: “Remember your leaders and imitate their faith. The Fathers of the Church: Masters of Faith”. The Holy Father and the Roman Curia are currently dedicating the first week of Lent to their annual spiritual exercises.
In the note released by the prefecture, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa O.F.M. Cap., preacher of the Pontifical Household, explains that “in preparation for the Year of Faith called by the Holy Father Benedict XVI, the four Lenten sermons will seek to energise and refresh our beliefs through a renewed contact with ‘giants of faith’ of the past”. Each week’s sermon will be dedicated to one of four great doctors of the Eastern Church: St. Athanasius, St. Basil, St. Gregory Nazianzen and St. Gregory Nyssen, “to see what each of them has to say to us today about the dogma they championed, respectively: the divinity of Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Trinity and knowledge of God”.
Quoting words of Servant of God Paul VI, Fr. Cantalamessa notes that “returning to the Fathers of the Church is part of that return to the roots of Christianity without which it would be impossible to undertake biblical renewal, liturgical reform and the new theological research endorsed by Vatican Council II”.
The sermons will be held at 9 a.m. in the “Redemptoris Mater” Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace.