This year, Fr Raniero Cantalamessa’s annual Advent sermons to the papal household have included much on the Holy Spirit. Sermon #3 was especially interesting, as he explained “sober intoxication,” and highlighted the importance of being “baptized in the Holy Spirit.”
Sermon #1 (December 02)
Sermon #2 (December 09)
Sermon #3 (December 16)
Sermon #4 (December 23)
In Chapter Two of Volume Two of Sober Intoxication of the Spirit, Fr Cantalamessa presents the following perspective on the place of prayer groups, communities and the charismatic renewal in the Church (pp. 29-31):
I have asked myself sometimes what in some of the prayer groups and budding communities that are rising up here and there in the charismatic renewal pleases Jesus so much that he would manifest so much power and so many wonders in them. It seemed to me that the secret of what makes them so precious to God is their absolute poverty, the fact that they have no past and hardly any future. They are almost a “nothing,” like certain life forms that appear in the morning and disappear in the evening, reabsorbed into the great bosom of life, or like a little cloud that calmly disappears from the sky after having poured out all its water.
Traditional religious orders have a past, often a glorious one; recent ones (lay institutes; ecclesial movements) have a future and are sometimes very aware of it. God is looking for something very, very small among so many grand and established groups (which do please him and are useful to him), something that he can take just as it is, without having to be concerned about its past or its future. He is looking for something that will be useful to him, for an instant, something unencumbered that wants nothing and asks for nothing in return for pleasing God and for making his power and his wishes shine forth in the world.
Do we want to be that small thing that is precious to God? Do we want to be that instrument of “nothing” in his omnipotent hand? Then, let us not worry about “setting up house”; let us not worry about assuring that the charismatic renewal has a future among today’s ecclesial realities; let us not worry about numbers.
Let it be enough for us that the future of the Church is already assured. Let the Church be enough for us, as institution. For our part, let us try, if we can, to remain prophetic for the Church, even if it is only in small measure. Let us continue to draw directly from the Church, especially from the local Church, all that is necessary to live a life of the Spirit — sacraments, authority, ministries, and doctrine. Let us continue to pour out all that we are, even though we are small, directly into the bosom of life that is the Church — quietly or also openly, if it is possible and if it is requested. Let us try to be that little cloud, ready to disappear, after it has poured out all its water on the Church.
I had hardly come into contact with the charismatic renewal when, one day in prayer, I was struck with certain thoughts. I seemed to sense the new thing the Lord was doing in the Church through the charismatic renewal. I took a sheet of paper and a pen and wrote down some thoughts, which surprised me, as they came without premeditation:
The Father wants to glorify the Son, Jesus Christ, on earth in a new way, through a new intervention. The Holy Spirit is appointed to carry out this glorification because it is written: “He will glorify me and take that which is mine.” A Christian life entirely consecrated to God, without a founder, without a rule, and without new congregations. The Founder: Jesus! The Rule: the gospel interpreted by the Holy Spirit! The Congregation: the Church! Do not worry about tomorrow, do not try to make something that will remain, and do not set in motion recognized organizations that can be perpetuated by successors….Jesus is a Founder who never dies, so there is no need for successors. We always need to let him do new things, even tomorrow. The Holy Spirit will remain in the Church, even tomorrow!
Fr Cantalamessa’s first Lenten sermon to the Pope and his household this year was a lengthy discussion of eros love. Approaching the conclusion, he summarizes:
What does all this mean for the love of God? That the primary object of our eros, of our search, desire, attraction, passion must be Christ.
This does not mean to reduce the horizon of Christian love from God to Christ; it means to love God in the way He wishes to be loved. “The Father himself loves you, because you have loved me” (John 16:27). It is not a question of a mediated love, almost by proxy, by which whoever loves Jesus “is as if” he loved the Father. No, Jesus is an immediate mediator, loving him one loves, ipso facto, also the Father. “He who sees me, sees the Father,” who loves me loves the Father.
It is true that not even Christ is seen, but he exists; he is risen, he is alive, he is close to us, more truly than the most enamored husband is close to his wife. Here is the crucial point: to think of Christ not as a person of the past, but as the risen and living Lord, with whom I can speak, whom I can even kiss if I so wish, certain that my kiss does not end on the paper or on the wood of a crucifix, but on a face and on the lips of living flesh (even though spiritualized), happy to receive my kiss.
Wow! These are insights that can really help deepen my personal relationship with Jesus, if I can keep them in mind, and not allow them to disappear amid my myriads of distractions. They reveal the intimate closeness to Jesus that is not only possible, but is desired by Jesus himself.
Fr Cantalamessa concludes this sermon with an examen and a prayer:
I tried to imagine, venerable fathers and brothers, what the Risen Jesus would say now if, as he did in his earthly life when he entered on the Sabbath into a synagogue, he came to sit here in my place and explained to us in person what the love is that he desires from us. I want to share with you, with simplicity, what I think he would say to us; it will serve to make our examination of conscience on love:
Is to put Me always in the first place;
Is to seek to please Me at every moment;
Is to live before Me as friend, confidant, spouse and to be happy;
Is to be troubled if you think you are far from Me;
Is to be full of happiness when I am with you;
Is to be willing to undergo great sacrifices so as not to lose Me;
Is to prefer to live poor and unknown with Me, rather than rich and famous without Me;
Is to speak to Me as your dearest friend in every possible moment;
Is to entrust yourself to Me in regard to your future;
Is to desire to lose yourself in Me as the end of your existence.
If it seems to you, as it does to me, that you are very far from this aim, we must not be discouraged. We have one who can help us reach it if we ask him. Let us repeat with faith to the Holy Spirit: “Veni, Sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium et tui amoris in eis ignem accende” (Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love).