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

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?" (Mark 8:34-37 ESV)

Pentecost

Blessed are You, O Christ our God, * Who has shown the fishermen to be all wise, * by sending down to them the Holy Spirit, * and through them You have caught the whole world in Your net. * O Lover of Mankind, glory to You. (Troparion - Tone 8)

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

When the Most High descended, confusing tongues, * He divided the nations; * but when He distributed the tongues of fire, * He called all to unity; * and, with one voice, * we glorify the Most Holy Spirit. (Kontakion - Tone 8)

Random Proverb

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

"'And [Naaman] dipped himself . . . seven times in the Jordan' [2 Kgs. 5:14]. It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but [this served] as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions, being spiritually regenerated as new-born babes, even as the Lord has declared: `Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.'"

St. Irenaeus of Lyons (190 AD), Fragment 34