A very insightful comment from Fr. Cantalamessa on the real meaning of the will of God:
“People unconsciously link God’s will to everything that is unpleasant and painful, to what in one way or another is seen as destroying individual freedom and development. It is as though God were the enemy of every celebration, joy, and pleasure. People do not take into account that in the New Testament, the will of God is called ‘eudokia‘ (see Ephesians 1:9; Luke 2:14), meaning ‘goodwill, kindness.’ When we pray, ‘May your will be done,’ it is like saying, ‘Fulfill in me, Father, your plan of love.'”
I have been reading and re-reading one of the homilies that Fr. Cantalamessa gave this Lent to the Roman Curia. Here are the beginning paragraphs, followed by the link to the whole homily. In it he stresses–as I have highlighted below–the importance, the necessity, of our being permeated by the knowledge of God’s love for us before we can bring that love to others. I find in my own life, and in the lives of many of the women to whom I give spiritual direction, that the most challenging thing can very often be believing in the love of God for me personally. Sounds so easy, but so hard to do.
The first and essential proclamation that the Church is charged to take to the world and that the world awaits from the Church is that of the love of God. However, for the evangelizers to be able to transmit this certainty, it is necessary that they themselves be profoundly permeated by it, that it be the light of their life. The present meditation should serve this purpose at least in a small part.
The expression “love of God” has two very different meanings: one in which God is object and the other in which God is subject; one which indicates our love for God and the other which indicates God’s love for us. The human person, who is more inclined to be active than passive, to be a creditor rather than a debtor, has always given precedent to the first meaning, to that which we do for God. Even Christian preaching has followed this line, speaking almost exclusively in certain epochs of the “duty” to love God (“De Deo diligere”).
However, biblical revelation gives precedence to the second meaning: to the love “of” God, not to the love “for” God. Aristotle said that God moves the world “in so far as he is loved,” that is, in so far as he is object of love and final cause of all creatures. But the Bible says exactly the contrary, namely, that God creates and moves the world in as much as he loves the world.
The most important thing, in speaking of the love of God, is not, therefore, that man loves God, but that God loves man and that he loved him “first”: “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us” (1 John 4:10). From this all the rest depends, including our own possibility of loving God: “We love, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). (emphasis added)
You can read the whole thing here.
A few more quotes from Come Creator Spirit:
‘a humble and contrite heart’ is the place of rest, a kind of paradise on earth, the place to which God feels most drawn (see Is 66.1-2). We human beings cannot offer God any sacrifice more pleasing, more acceptable to God than a contrite heart (Ps 51.19). And what is there to stop us burning with desire to have God fine, every time God visits us, this secret place, this place of rest, that God loves so much.
. . . there is a connection between the Spirit and hope is as close as the connection between the Spirit and love.
Iranaeus says that the Holy Spirit is the “innkeeper” to whom the Good Samaritan, Christ, entrusts wounded humanity, asking the Spirit to take care of it.
If you haven’t read Fr. Cantalamessa’s book, Come, Creator Spirit, I would be so bold as to say you must. I’ve read it twice and will most certainly read it again at least once. Some quotes to entice you:
[quoting Thomas Aquinas]”The first gift we give to someone we love is love itself, which makes us long for the good of that person. Thus it is that love itself is the primary gift, in the strength of which we offer all other gifts that we are able to give. And so it is that from the moment the Holy Spirit proceeds as love, he proceeds as the primary gift.” From all of this it follows that the Holy Spirit by pouring the love of God into our hearts, infuses into us not only a virtue, even though it is the greatest of all the virtues, but pours his very own self into us. The gift of God is the Giver himself. We love God by means of God himself within us.
Coming to us, the Holy Spirit not only brings us the gift of God, but also God’s self-giving.
[Commenting on the likeness of the Holy Spirit to a “living fountain”] Water is something that always runs down, never up. It is always trying to find the lowest place. So it is with the Holy Spirit: the Spirit loves to visit and fill the lowly, the humble, those who know their own emptiness.
More to come . . .
Loneliness, along with fear and weakness, is the greatest cause of human suffering.
All of us experience loneliness at different times, and sometimes we experience long seasons of loneliness: when someone we dearly love dies, when we’re going through an illness, when we take on a new responsibility, when we age and are facing death. I’ve come across some good reflections on loneliness that I thought I would share with you:
I think that part of being human is being alone. And being lonely. I think that one of the stresses on a lot of our friendships is that we require the people we love to take away that loneliness. And they really can’t. And so, when we still feel lonely, even in the company of people we love, we become angry with them because they don’t do what we think they’re supposed to do. Which is really something they can’t do for us. (Rich Mullins)
The grace of loneliness is one of the most precious gifts that God gives to us in our path to sanctity. (S.C. Biela)
Loneliness is the place of encounter with God. At the same time, it is a difficult trial of faith. Therefore, we should never face it by relying on our own strength. (S.C. Biela)
The Holy Spirit is the answer to our loneliness, which along with fear and weakness, is the greatest cause of human suffering. What really overcomes loneliness? . . . having a friend, someone to share thoughts with, a companion. If we are open to him, this is what the Holy Spirit wants to be to us. It is again St. Basil who says that the Holy Spirit was ‘the inseparable companion’ of Jesus during his life on earth, and that the Spirit wants to be the same for us . . . .
If it is possible for weakness to provide an occasion for us to experience the strength of the Spirit, it is possible for loneliness to be the occasion and also the stimulus for us to experience the Spirit as ‘sweet guest.’ (Fr. R. Cantalamessa)
Some excerpts from Fr. Cantalamessa’s book, The Eucharist: Our Sanctification:
The Eucharist springs from love; the reason for every thing was that he loved us: ‘Christ love us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God’ (Eph 5:2).
At every ‘breaking of the bread’ when the priest breaks the host, it’s as if the alabaster vase of Christ’s humanity were being broken again, which is what happened on the Cross, and as if the perfume of his obedience were rising to touch the Father’s heart again.
“Drown yourself in the Blood of Christ crucified, bathe yourself in the Blood, inebriate and satiate yourself with the Blood and clothe yourself in the Blood. And if you are unfaithful, baptize yourself again in the Blood; if the devil has blurred your mind’s eye, cleanse your eyes with the Blood; if you become ungrateful for unseen gifts, be grateful in the Blood. . . . Melt your lukewarmness in the heat of the Blood and in the light of the Blood darkness will dissolve and you will be the spouse of Truth.” (Catherine of Siena, Letter 102)
And from St. Alphonsus Liguori:
If you are cold, do you think it sensible to move away from fire? Precisely because you feel your heart frozen you should go more frequently to Holy Communion, provided you feel a sincere desire to love Jesus Christ.