Cantalamessa: The spirit of the world, like a virus, changes operating models

Cantalamessa: The spirit of the world, like a virus, changes operating models

Today, 1 March, the Cardinal Preacher of the Pontifical House preached his second Lenten sermon in the Paul VI Hall, which focused on the theme of “Faith and Reason”: There are many reasons behind the origin of worldliness, but the main reason is crisis. Faith. “Public opinion” plays a decisive role: today it can be called “the spirit in the air,” because it spreads above all “through the air, through virtual media.”

L'Osservatore Romano

Discussions about faith and reason, and more specifically “about reason and revelation”, are affected by a “radical asymmetry”: “the believer shares reason with the atheist; the believer shares reason with the atheist.” The atheist does not share the faith of the believer in revelation.” This was confirmed by Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the Papal House, during the sermon of the Second Lent, which was held in the Paul VI Hall this morning, March 1.

Delving deeper into the theme of the meditation taken from the Gospel of John – “I am the light of the world” -, Cantalamessa noted that while “the believer speaks the language of the atheist interlocutor; he is the light of the world.” He does not speak the language of his fellow believer.” For precisely this reason, “the most convincing debate on the subject of ‘faith and reason’ is the one that takes place within the person’s soul, between his faith and his reason.” He noted that there are “famous examples of this in the history of human thought.” “In men whose identical passion for faith and reason cannot be doubted: Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Blaise Pascal, Søren Kierkegaard, John Newman.”

“The conclusion reached by each of them is that the highest act of reason is the recognition of the existence of something that transcends it. This is also the act that reason most honors because it indicates its ability to transcend itself. Faith does not contradict reason, but presupposes it, just as 'grace presupposes nature.'” .

Reflecting on the phrase “light of the world,” the Cardinal pointed out that it has two basic meanings. The first meaning is that Jesus is the light of the world because he is the supreme and final revelation of God to humanity. DeveloperIs it the same? inspirationCantalamessa recalled that the prophets spoke in the third person: “Thus says the Lord!”, while Jesus spoke in the first person: “I tell you!” In Christ, “the means of transmission is truly the message; the messenger is the message!”

“The second meaning is that Jesus is the light of the world in the sense that he enlightens the world, that is, he reveals the world to himself; Everything is shown as it really is, as it is before God.” In this sense, he said, the light that is Christ has always had a fierce rival: the human mind.

In fact, developing the general theme of this year's Lenten sermons – dedicated to contemplating the great “I am” (Ego eimi) spoken by Jesus in the Gospel of John – the Cardinal pointed out “another misunderstanding to clarify what concerns the dialogue.” Between faith and reason. The main criticism directed at the believer is that he cannot be objective, because his faith dictates from the beginning the outcome that must be reached, and thus forms a preconceived understanding and bias. It is not taken into account that the same “prejudice” works, in the opposite direction, also in the unbelieving scientist or philosopher, and in a more extreme way. If the pacifist idea is accepted that God does not exist, that the supernatural does not exist, and that miracles are not possible, its conclusion can only be one, and already given from the beginning.

The cardinal explained that there are only two possible solutions to the tension between faith and reason: either to reduce faith “within the limits of pure reason,” as the philosopher Kant suggested, or to break the limits of pure reason into space in an unlimited horizon. . According to Cantalamessa, this debate “before it is a debate between us and them, between believers and non-believers, it must be a debate between us and us, that is, between believers themselves.” In fact, the worst kind of rationality is not external, but internal.

The preacher noted that theology, especially in the West, “has moved further and further away from the power of the Spirit, to tap into human wisdom.” “Modern rationalism required Christianity to present its message dialectically, that is, to subject it fully to investigation and discussion, so that it could fit into the general framework—also philosophically acceptable—of a joint and always provisional effort at self-reliance, man and the universe. However, by doing so, it became a declaration Salvation for the dead and risen Christ is subject to a different and supposedly higher authority.

The young Capuchin friar pointed out the danger inherent in this way of doing theology: that God becomes an object, becomes “a subject we talk about, not a subject with whom we talk (or in whose presence). He” – or “it is a violent reaction to make theology a ‘science’.” The first duty of those who practice science is to be impartial with respect to the subject of their research; But can they be neutral when it comes to God?” Thus, “the result of this way of doing theology, in fact, is that it becomes more and more a dialogue with the academic elite of the moment, and less and less a food for the faith of God's people. You cannot get out of This attitude can only be achieved by accompanying your studies with prayer and conversation with God does not always and only speak to God”.

Before concluding, the Cardinal returned to the second meaning of the phrase “light of the world,” highlighting its “instrumental” meaning, according to which Jesus is the light of the world because he “illuminates everything, and he does, for the sake of the world.” “The world does what the sun does to the earth.” Even in this sense, “Jesus and his Gospel have the most dangerous competitor of all, being an internal competitor, an enemy in the home”: namely, worldliness. He explained that the danger of adhering to it is equivalent to “in the religious and spiritual sphere what we call secularization in the social sphere.” “.

There are many reasons for the origin of worldliness, the preacher says, “but the main reason is the crisis of faith.” In this sense, the Cardinal referred to the “spirit of the world,” which the Apostle Paul considered to be “the spirit of the world.” The direct opponent of the “Spirit of God”, in which “public opinion plays a decisive role”: today we might call it “the spirit in the air”, because it spreads above all “through virtual media”. It is to adapt “to the spirit of the times.” To describe the “soul-destroying action”, Cantalamessa compared it to the action of a computer virus. This penetrates “through thousands of channels, like the air we breathe,” he warned. Once he enters, he changes our operating models: he replaces the “Christ” model with the “world” model.

*Unofficial translation

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