CWN - In his 4th Lenten Sermon of the year, on Friday, March 27, Father Raniero Cantalamessa concluded a series of talks that compared Eastern and Western Christian approaches to spirituality.

Preaching in the Redemptoris Mater chapel to Pope Francis and members of the Roman Curia, the preacher to the pontifical household observed: “The goal of life for Greek Christians is divinization, and for Christians in the West, the attainment of holiness.” Putting the matter differently, he said that “the East has assimilated the positive aspect of salvation: the deification of man and the restoration of the image of God. The West has assimilated the negative aspect: freedom from sin.”

Christians in the West could profit from reflection on the Eastern understanding, the papal preacher said. He remarked that in the West, “if one asks an average Christian what it means to be ‘in the grace of God’ or to live ‘in grace,’ the answer is almost certainly ‘to live without mortal sin on one’s conscience.’” In the East, the answer would more likely involve a reference to new life in Christ.

The problem is complicated, Father Cantalamessa said, by the tendency in the West to separate theology from spirituality and mysticism. Fortunately, he said, in the past century the charismatic renewal has challenged that separation. The papal preacher said that this renewal is one of the gifts of the Holy spirit. “It is not a question of belonging to this movement, or to any movement,” he said, “but of opening oneself to the action of the Holy Spirit in whatever state one finds oneself.”

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Teachings of Christ

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 ESV)

Saint Nicholas of Myra

The truth of your deeds has revealed you to your flock, * as a rule of faith, an image of meekness, and a teacher of abstinence. * Therefore, you attained the heights through humility, * and riches through poverty. * O Father and Hierarch Nicholas, * pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved. (Troparion, Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

In Myra, You were shown to be a servant of the sacred things, O Holy Nicholas, * for, fulfilling the Gospel of Christ, you, O Venerable, laid down your life for your people, * and saved the innocent from death. * Therefore, you were sanctified as a great initiate of the grace of God. (Kontakion, Tone 3)

Random Proverb

"My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live." (Proverbs 7:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

If God is slow in answering your request, and you ask but do not promptly receive anything, do not be upset, for you are not wiser than God. When you remain as you were before, without anything happening, it is either because your behaviour is not worthy of your request, or because the paths in which your heart was travelling were far removed from the aim of your prayer, or because your interior condition is far too childish, when compared with the magnitude of the thing for which you have asked.

St. Isaac of Nineveh [Syria], The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life.