Pope’s preacher sees job as simply delivering the Gospel
By David Kerr
Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap.
Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap.

.- Although he is the only person in the world to have the job of preaching to the Pope, Father Raniero Cantalamessa sees his work as simply delivering the message of the Gospel.

“It is actually a very simple ministry because the Pope at that moment is just a listener among other listeners,” the Italian Capuchin Franciscan priest told CNA.

“In fact, it’s really the Pope who gives the sermon to the rest of the Church by listening to the meditation of a very simple priest of the Catholic Church.”

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, which includes the Pope.

All told, Fr. Cantalamessa has been preaching to Pope Benedict – who was previously Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – for 31 years.

“He was always in the first row. And preaching while the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is right in front of you is quite challenging, I assure you,” he said.

Fr. Cantalamessa said that the weight of preaching for the Pope is lightened by the fact that he knows he is “not supposed to give my philosophical system, but the message of the Gospel.”

As each liturgical season for preaching approaches, Fr. Cantalamessa selects a theme for his sermons.

This Advent he is focusing on the four different historical stages of Christian evangelization. He sees the first phase as occurring in the earliest centuries of the Church, the second when the Roman Empire fell, and the third coinciding with the discovery of the New World. The fourth stage is “the present one, where the target is more the secularized Western world than the usual mission countries.”

“In the past, the role for evangelization was more entrusted to bishops, pastors, monks, religious people,” he explained. Since the Second Vatican Council, “the laity have taken their role as part of the evangelization.”

“They really do the new evangelization in the field, going into the streets and preaching to people on a person-to-person basis,” Fr. Cantalamessa said, likening the situation to the early Church when there “were no specialized official missionaries” and “every Christian was a missionary.”

While lay people “usually cannot do what I do – preach to crowds, to clergy,” they can meet people in everyday life “whom we cannot reach and invite them and transmit to them with gentleness our reasons for hope,” the papal preacher said.

As part of his Advent reflections this year, he plans to remind the Papal Household that “lay people were the only people present at the birth of Jesus,” such as the shepherds and wise men.

“So this was symbolic that the first who came and spread the news about the birth of Jesus were lay people.”

Fr. Cantalamessa likes to conclude his Advent sermons by directing people “toward Christmas, mentioning sometimes the role of Mary,” whom he describes as “the star of evangelization.”

The “miracle of Christmas,” he reflected, “is that in Jesus, God achieves great goals through very small means – a baby,” contrary to the expectation and demands of humanity.

“Only faith in Jesus can change every defeat into a victory. I am fully convinced of that.”

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic

Liturgical Calendar

April 17, 2014

Holy Thursday

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Jn 13:1-15


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Ex 12:1-8, 11-14
Second Reading:: 1 Cor 11:23-26
Gospel:: Jn 13:1-15

Homily of the Day

Jn 13:1-15


Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
Text only

Follow us: