Vatican City. Again during this past Lent Br. Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher to the Papal Household, offered his words to the Holy Father and the members of the Roman Curia. Many bishops, cardinals, priests, religious, and officials working in the Vatican came to hear him each Friday morning in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel. The mosaics of the Chapel, illustrating the history of salvation, the work of Marko Rupnik, made for a worthy frame for the words of the Apostolic Preacher. Christian holiness was the general theme of the five sermons.
The first sermon, given on February 23, was entitled, “Do not be conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2), and treated “Christians and the world,” “The crisis of the idea of ‘fuga mundi’”, and “the form of this world is passing away.”
The second sermon was dedicated to Christian love: “Let love be genuine.” In this sermon Br. Raniero treated the sources of Christian holiness, charity as sincere love, and charity both for those outside and within the Christian community.
The third sermon was on Christian humility. “Do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought.” This sermon speaks of “humility as sober judgment,” drawing especially on St. Paul when he says, “What do you have that you did not receive?” as well as on the writings of certain mystics like St. Teresa of Ávila and St. Angelo of Foligno. Continuing on the topic of humility, Br. Raniero spoke of Mary as the humble handmaid of the Lord. He then spoke on “humility and humiliation” with many references of The Imitation of Christ.
The fourth sermon, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities” treated the difficult spiritual questions of obedience, concluding with the section, “An obedience always open to all” and authority as the “authoritativeness that comes from having God behind you.”
The fifth and final sermon was on Christian purity: “Let us put on the armor of light.” Beginning with the witness of St. Augustine in his Confessions, Br. Raniero spoke on the motivations for Christian purity, purity as beauty and as love of neighbor, and purity and renewal. The sermon concludes with an exhortation to be “pure of heart.”
At the end of this cycle of Lenten sermons, Br. Raniero offered his best wishes for a happy Easter to the Holy Father and everyone present.