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Father Cantalamessa Speaks at Chapel

By Amanda Morad | May 2, 2014

Father Raniero Cantalamessa.

On Wednesday, April 30, Regent University had the privilege of hosting Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher to the Papal Household, for both the current Pope Francis and previous popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. In this capacity, Cantalamessa preaches a weekly sermon in Advent and Lent in the presence of the Pope, the cardinals, bishops and prelates of the Roman Curia and the general superiors of religious orders.

But on Wednesday, he preached to a full chapel of CBN and Regent community members on the necessity of the Holy Spirit in life and work.

"In the Gospels, Matthew and Mark translate the last word of Jesus as 'Go,' but Luke translates it as 'Stay,'" he explained. "We must go to the whole world, but first we must stay to be filled with power from on high."

He recounted the story of Pentecost in Acts 2 in which the Holly Spirit descended on a group of disciples, in essence launching the Church. "It must have been dramatic because from this moment they are completely different people," he noted. "In fact, it was something very strong."

"What is the Holy Spirit?" he asked. "He is love."

He went on to explain that "baptism" as described in the account meant full immersion, not in water, but in the love of God.

"Every kind of love on earth is just a little spark of the fire of the love of God," Cantalamessa said. "When two young people love each other, their faces change—people can tell. Imagine the apostles' faces when they were filled with the fullness of the love of God."

He quoted Martin Luther, saying, "As long as man lives according to the flesh, he seeks nature, power and money." In this state, God appears to be an adversary to achieving human happiness, a hindrance in the path to fulfillment. But that's not the full picture of God, Cantalamessa suggested.

"When we receive the Holy Spirit, we are allowed to look at God with new eyes as someone who loves us so much He died for us," he said. "When the heart sees that kind of love, it changes; the sinner becomes born again and the slave cries, 'Abba, Father.' ...The Holy Spirit changes the heart of a slave into the heart of a son."

Cantalamessa noted the distorted view of God that many people have today: the question of suffering causes many to doubt God's benevolence. "[Many] link God to everything complacent and adverse who hinders us, but it's a false image of God," he said. "God is love. He's a God full of pathos, who shares in the pain of the people.... The Holy Spirit puts this love of God in our hearts."

He encouraged the audience to view Pentecost as a fulfillment of the covenant God made with Abraham and later outlined as law in the Ten Commandments. "The finger of God writes the law not on stone tablets, but on the hearts of his people," Cantalamessa said. "This is the law that we Christians must live by—the law of the Spirit."

This law of the Spirit is a law of love, he explained. He then closed the service with a challenge:

"We love because He first loved us—if we could live like this, we could change the world. When our mouths cannot speak, let our eyes speak for us. Let the light of Christ shine through us in love."

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