.- The Preacher to the Papal Household has revealed the topics for the four homilies he will preach to Pope Benedict XVI during Lent.
âEvery time we will be at the school of one of the âfour great doctors of the Eastern Churchâ â Athanasius, Basil, Gregory Nazianzen and Gregory of Nyssa â to see what each one says to us today about the dogmaâ each of them championed, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap., said in a statement issued March 1 by the Vatican.
Those teachings were, respectively: âthe divinity of Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Trinity and the knowledge of God,â he explained.
The sermons will be held in the Vaticanâs Redemptoris Mater chapel at 9 a.m. over the four Fridays of Lent, March 9-30.
The overarching theme this year is âThe Fathers of the Church, teachers of the faith,â which was inspired by a quotation from St. Paulâs Letter to the Hebrews 13:7 â âRemember your leaders and imitate their faith.â
With the Churchâs Year of Faith beginning in October, Fr. Cantalamessa said his sermons âare intended to draw momentum and restore freshness to our belief, through renewed contact with the âgiants of faithâ of the past.â
âThe Church Fathersâ is the term used to denote the most influential Christian thinkers of the early Church whose teachings have set precedents for the subsequent centuries.
St. Athanasius was a 4th-century bishop of Alexandria in Egypt. He was the leading opponent of the Arian heresy, which taught Jesus was not co-equal with God the Father.
The three other Church Fathers who will feature in the Lenten papal homilies are known collectively as the âCappadocian Fathers,â since they hailed from Cappadocia region of what is now Turkey.
Sts. Basil and Gregory were brothers who were also bishops during the 4th- century. They led the dioceses of Caesarea and Nyssa, respectively. The final Cappadocian Father was a close friend of the brothers, named St. Gregory Nazianzen, who became the Patriarch of Constantinople.
All three made major contributions towards the definition of the Holy Trinity which was finalized at the First Council of Constantinople in 381. It was there that the final version of the Nicene Creed was agreed upon.
Fr. Cantalamessa, 77, has been the official preacher to the Papal Household since 1980. His job consists of giving a meditation every Friday of Lent and Advent to the senior members of the Roman Curia, including the Pope.
That means Fr. Cantalamessa has been preaching to Pope Benedict â who was previously Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith â for all of his 30 years in Rome.
âIt is actually a very simple ministry because the Pope at that moment is just a listener among other listeners,â he told CNA in December 2011.