Cardinal Cantalamessa exchanging greetings with Pope Francis at his Fifth Lenten Sermon  (Vatican Media)

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Mar 23 2024

Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, the Preacher of the Papal Household, delivers his fifth sermon for Lent 2024 to Roman Curia, reflecting on Jesus’ words, ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life.’

The Preacher of the Papal Household, Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap, gave his fifth sermon for Lent 2024 on Friday morning, to the Holy Father and the Roman Curia. Focusing on Jesus as the Resurrection and the Life, he suggested the meditation was intended to inspire in us “a renewed decision to entrust ourselves completely to the interior guidance of the Holy Spirit.”

The Cardinal explained that in our journey, during the past meditations, through the Fourth Gospel, to discover who Jesus is for us, we have reached the last stage, entering into what are usually called “the farewell speeches” of Jesus to His Apostles. “This time I won’t even attempt to summarize the context and highlight its different units and subdivisions,” he said, noting, “It would be like trying to draw boxes and distinguish sectors in a lava flow descending from the crater.”

“Let us therefore,” he insisted, “go directly” to the Gospel passage according to St John at the forefront today: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way.” Thomas said to Him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (Jn 14: 3-6).”

Following, a program of life for disciples

Christ, the Cardinal reminded, is the way and the destination of our journey. 

“Jesus continues to say to those He meets; that is, to us, at this moment; what He said to the Apostles and to those He met during His earthly life: ‘Come after me,’ or ‘Follow me!’”

Our walking and meaningfully following Christ, he suggested, demonstrates the dynamism that must characterize the life of the Christian, “and the repercussion that faith must have on the conduct of life.”

“’Following”; unlike ‘believing’ and ‘loving’; not only indicates a particular attitude of the mind and heart,” he said, “but outlines a life program for the disciple. It implies a total sharing: of the way of life, of the destiny, and of the mission of the Lord.”

The Cardinal went on to discuss how following Christ is distinguished from any other type of ‘following,’ and how Jesus gave us powerful tools to follow Him effectively. “The Gospel was given to us by the earthly Jesus,” he said, “but the ability to observe it and put it into practice comes to us only from the Risen Christ and his Spirit!”

Good inspirations

The Cardinal discussed the “inspirations of the Spirit,” the so-called “good inspirations.”

“What God wants that is different and particular for each one,” he explained, can be discovered through the events of life, Scripture, and the guidance of a spiritual director, “but the main and ordinary means,” he highlighted, “are the inspirations of grace.”

“These are internal solicitations of the Spirit in the depths of the heart,” the papal preacher encouraged, “through which God not only makes known what He desires from us, but gives us the necessary strength, and, often, also the joy, to accomplish it, if the person consents.”

“God not only makes known what He desires from us, but gives us the necessary strength, and often also the joy, to accomplish it, if the person consents…”

Entrusting ourselves completely

“The concrete fruit of this meditation,” Cardinal Cantalamessa underscored, “must be a renewed decision to entrust ourselves completely to the interior guidance of the Holy Spirit, as if for a sort of invisible ‘spiritual direction.’”

“We must totally abandon ourselves to the inner Master who speaks to us without  the clamor of words.”

“We must totally abandon ourselves to the inner Master…”

He said we ought to be like good actors, by keeping “our ears open, on large and small occasions, to the voice of this hidden ‘prompter’ so as to faithfully play our part in the scene of life.” This is, he said, “what is meant by the expression ‘docility to the Spirit.'”

Spirit speaks to us

“It’s easier than you think,” he acknowledged, because the Spirit speaks to us, teaches us and instructs us about everything.

“Sometimes a simple interior look, a movement of the heart, a moment of reflection and prayer is enough.”

If welcoming inspirations is important for every Christian, Cardinal Cantalamessa stressed how vital doing so is for those who have governance roles in the Church.

Only in this way, he said, is the Spirit of Christ allowed to guide His Church through His human representatives.

“It is not necessary for all the passengers on a ship to be glued with their ears to the on-board radio, to receive signals on the route, on any icebergs, and weather conditions,” he acknowledged, “but it is essential that the managers on board are.”

The Cardinal expressed his hope that this coming Easter, “the Risen Lord let resound in our heart one of His divine ‘I Am’ sayings that we have meditated on in our Lenten meditations, especially the one that proclaims His paschal victory: “I am the Resurrection and the Life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me, will never die” (11:25-26).”

Cardinal Cantalamessa concluded by wishing the Holy Father and the members of the Roman Curia before him a happy and holy Easter.

Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa’s full Lenten sermons can be found on Cardinal Cantalamessa’s website. Vatican News