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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Protection of the Mother of God

Protected by your coming, O Mother of God, * the faithful people celebrate today with splendor, * and, gazing at your most pure image, * we say with compunction: * "Shield us with your precious veil * and deliver us from all evil * imploring your Son, Christ our God, to save our souls.” (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.

Today the Virgin stands forth in the Church, * and with the choirs of saints she invisibly prays to God for us. * The Angels worship with the hierarchs, * and the apostles exult with the prophets, * because, in our behalf, the Mother of God entreats the pre-eternal God. (Kontakion - Tone 3)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God on October 1st.