Do you “believe in… life everlasting”?

Evangelization Needs Belief in Eternity

Papal Preacher Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa tells the Pope and the Curia that a renewed faith in eternal life is one of the keys to the New Evangelization.

Excerpts from Zenit.org

The preacher of the Pontifical Household offered this suggestion on December 10 during the second of three Advent sermons that he is giving in the presence of the Pope and the Roman Curia. Father Cantalamessa proposed at the beginning of the series to offer “a small contribution to the need of the Church” for a New Evangelization, concretely by examining three obstacles to the Gospel message: scientism, secularism and rationalism.

“The fall of the horizon of eternity, or of eternal life, has the effect on Christian life of sap thrown on a flame: it suffocates it, extinguishes it. Faith in eternal life is one of the conditions of the possibility of evangelization.”

Despite Christianity’s radical impact, belief in eternity has wavered, Father Cantalamessa lamented. “What has happened to the Christian idea of an eternal life for the soul and for the body, after it triumphed over the pagan idea of ‘darkness beyond death?'” he asked. The answer, the Capuchin suggested, lies in the style of atheism of the 19th century, “expressed preferably in the negation of a beyond.”

“Little by little, suspicion, forgetfulness and silence fell on the word eternity. Materialism and consumerism did the rest in the opulent society, making it seem inconvenient to still speak of eternity among educated persons and with the passage of time. All this had a clear repercussion on the faith of believers, which became, on this point, timid and reticent.”

Nevertheless, Father Cantalamessa continued, “For the believer, eternity is not, as we see, only a hope, it is also a presence. We have this experience every time that we make a real act of faith in Christ, because ‘you have eternal life, you who believe in the name of the Son of God’; every time we receive Communion, in which ‘we are given the pledge of future glory’; every time we hear the words of the Gospel which are ‘words of eternal life.'”

“A renewed faith in eternity does not only serve for evangelization, that is, for the proclamation to be done to others,” the Capuchin affirmed. “It serves, even before that, to give a new impetus to our journey toward sanctity. The weakening of the idea of eternity acts also on believers, diminishing in them the capacity to face suffering and the trials of life with courage.”

Father Cantalamessa concluded with the invitation to “direct our thoughts then with renewed impetus toward eternity, repeating to ourselves with the words of the poet: Everything, except the eternal, to the world is vain.”

St. Augustine said to his faithful:
“Let us run because we will go to the house of the Lord; let us run because this course does not exhaust; because we will arrive at an end where there is no exhaustion. Let us run to the house of the Lord and our soul rejoices for those who repeat these words. They have seen the homeland before us, the Apostles saw it and have said to us: ‘Run, hurry up, follow us! We are going to the house of the Lord!'”

Read the entire article published by Zenit at http://www.zenit.org/article-31212?l=english
[ZENIT will publish a translation of the full text of the sermon on Saturday]

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