Preacher Sees Holy Spirit as Therapy

Calls Him a Specialist in Healing Sicknesses of Marriage and Family
by Zenit Staff Writer | Source: Zenit
ROME, DEC. 14, 2007 ( The preacher of the Pontifical Household says the Holy Spirit is an "infallible aroma therapy" with no negative side effects.

Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa affirmed this today when he delivered his second Advent meditation in the presence of Benedict XVI and members of the Roman Curia.

Father Cantalamessa dedicated his reflection to the "parting of the waters [...] between two epochs" that came with the transition between John the Baptist and Jesus.

"A reflection on Jesus and John the Baptist is also the best way to put us in tune with the Advent liturgy," the preacher said. "There is a progression in Advent: In the first week the voice that stands out is the prophet Isaiah's, who announces the Messiah from a distance; in the second and third weeks it is that of the Baptist who announces the Christ as present; in the last week the prophet and the precursor give way to the Mother, who carries him in her womb."

Qualitative Leap

Father Cantalamessa established that "between John's preaching and the preaching of Jesus there is a qualitative leap: The littlest one of the new order is superior to the greatest one of the old order. [...] With Jesus, history's decisive hour has struck, in his presence the decision that determines salvation imposes itself."

"Today," he added, "it is becoming common practice, especially in the secular media, to abandon the traditional way of dating events 'before Christ' or 'after Christ' in favor of the more neutral formula of 'before the common era' and 'common era.' It was a decision motivated by a desire not to offend the sensibilities of people and other religions who don not use Christian chronology; in that regard it should be respected, but for Christians there is no question of the decisive role that Christ's coming plays in the religious history of humanity."

The Pontifical Household preacher proposed that the comparison between John the Baptist and Jesus crystallizes in the comparison of the baptisms they imparted: of water, and of the Holy Spirit.

"What does it mean to say that Jesus is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit? The expression serves not only to distinguish Jesus' baptism from John's baptism; it serves to distinguish the entire person and work of Christ from that of the precursor. In other words, in all of his work Jesus is the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit," he said.

Father Cantalamessa added: "The Risen Jesus baptizes in the Spirit not only in the sacrament of baptism, but, in a different way, also in other moments: in the Eucharist, in listening to the Word and, in general, through all the channels of grace.

"St. Thomas Aquinas writes: 'There is an invisible mission of the Spirit every time there is a progress in virtue or an augmentation of grace [...] when someone moves to a new activity or a new state of grace.' The Church's liturgy itself inculcates this. All of its prayers and its hymns to the Holy Spirit begin with the cry, 'Come [...] Come, Holy Spirit!' And those who pray this way have already at sometime received the Spirit. This means that the Spirit is something that we have received and that we must receive again and again."

Baptism in the Spirit

Father Cantalamessa turned his attention to the phenomenon of "baptism in the Spirit," calling it a "renewal and an activation, not only of baptism and confirmation, but of all the events of grace of one's state in life: priestly ordination, religious profession, marriage. The most common effect of this grace is that the Holy Spirit, passes from being a more or less abstract object of faith, to being a fact of experience."

The preacher said the Spirit is what the Church most needs today. Alluding to the popular practice of "aroma therapy," Father Cantalamessa said "there is a sure, infallible aroma therapy that does not provoke counter indications: that one made up of a special aroma, the 'sacred chrism of the soul' that is the Holy Spirit!"

He added, "The Holy Spirit is a specialist above all in healing the sicknesses of marriage and family. Marriage consists in giving oneself to another; it is the sacrament of making oneself a gift. Now, the Holy Spirit is the gift made person. [...] Where he comes, the ability to make oneself a gift is reborn and with it, the joy and the beauty of living together for husband and wife."

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