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28.11.15

Rebuild My House

Synod this year was opened by a sermon from Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa.



Fr. Raniero is a Papal preacher and an advocate of renewal in the Church. He writes (via CBN).
“Baptism in the Spirit is not a human invention; it is a divine invention. It is a renewal of baptism and of the whole of Christian life, of all the sacraments. It is a renewal of my religious profession, of my confirmation, and of my priestly ordination,”
You can read more of his reflections on renewal here.



Fr. Raniero also believes that renewal is a path to unity in the church.
Today as well, the Holy Spirit will be the one to lead us into unity, if we let him guide us," he said. “God has poured out the Holy Spirit in a new and unusual way upon millions of believers from every Christian denomination and, so that there would be no doubts about His intentions, He poured out the Spirit with the same manifestations."
So his invitation to speak at Synod is significant, especially for those of us who are embrace the sacramental and charismatic elements of the church.

His entire Sermon is here, but there are some key points:
Christ is the light of the world, the one who gives meaning and hope to every human life – and the majority of people around us live and die as if He had never existed! How can we be unconcerned, and each remain “in the comfort of our own panelled houses”? We should never allow a moral issue like that of sexuality divide us more than love for Jesus Christ unites us.
This is the section some 'conservatives' have jumped on, as if Fr. Raniero was a liberal! However it makes clear that different views on sexuality are not to be a barrier to unity and shared mission. It is not the touchstone of orthodoxy. Even amongst charismatics!
We need to go back to the time of the Apostles: they faced a pre-Christian world, and we are facing a largely post-Christian world. When Paul wants to summarise the essence of the Christian message in one sentence, he does not say, “I proclaim this or that doctrine to you.” He says, “We preach Christ crucified” (1 Cor 1:23), and “We preach . . . Jesus Christ as Lord” (2 Cor 4:5). ...

This does not mean ignoring the great theological and spiritual enrichment that came from the Reformation or desiring to go back to the time before it. It means instead allowing all of Christianity to benefit from its achievements, once they are freed from certain distortions due to the heated atmosphere of the time and of later controversies. 
The call to an Apostolic Reformation may be one familiar to charismatics in the new churches. And of course some of us in reading the Apostles and the early Fathers have come to the conclusion that the shape of that reformation is actually far more Catholic than we may have first believed. Yes there is a simplicity of faith, but also the debates of the reformation need to be re-examined in the context of what we see in the Apostolic church, in word, sacraments and the power of the Spirit. 
Nothing is more important than to fulfil Christ’s heart desire for unity expressed in today’s gospel. In many parts of the world people are killed and churches burned not because they are Catholic, or Anglican, or Pentecostals, but because they are Christians. In their eyes we are already one! Let us be one also in our eyes and in the eyes of God.
Christians have always been persecuted, but in the modern world we are becoming more aware of global persecution of Christians. For those of us privileged to live in nations where we are free to meet and worship this should inspire us towards unity and bring our divisions into perspective.

There is far more in Fr. Raniero's sermon - please do read it for yourself.