"No one is exempt" from the influences of the world which push for conformity to the dominant culture, according to prominent Italian Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco. In this atmosphere, he told the Vatican's newspaper, prayer serves as a weapon against the prevailing mentality and leads people to the truth of God and man.
Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Metropolitan Archbishop of Genoa and the president of the Italian Bishops' Conference, spoke to the Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano during a celebration for the 155th anniversary of Blessed Fr. Antonio Rosmini's death. Fr. Rosmini was a passionate philosopher and ardent promoter of social justice.
Asked if Catholiics today, like Fr. Rosmini over a century ago, are called to face a crisis of values, Cardinal Bagnasco answered that they hear this call from the Pope himself. Benedict XVI "calls the faithful back to a greater awareness," he said, in an atmosphere affected by "certain dominant cultural forms" that influence everyone, believers and non-believers alike.
"No one is exempt from this climate of possible contamination that could impoverish the faith, but especially the very behavior of Christians ... "
He cited Jesus' words that people should not be "of the world" but "in the world," explaining that "being in the world means being exposed to all of the pressures and tensions and proddings that we know."
Responding to the question of whether prayer remains a "weapon" against conforming to the dominant mentality, as Fr. Rosmini taught, Cardinal Bagnasco said "Prayer is contact with God, and God is truth.
"Certainly we need to dedicate time to prayer, each according to his own vocation, and draw close to those means that the liturgy and especially the Lord have put at our disposal: the Gospel, the book of Psalms and all of the other practices of piety ... "
Each of these, he said, are ways "that help us to find the truth of God and of man."
And, he concluded, "if we truly believe, totally, that God loves us, it's clear that we will live the personal and universal story with a perspective and, at times, with a more responsible, more positive attitude.
"We need to truly believe that God loves us: (a truth) which holds the power to change our life."