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Life in Christ: A Very Good Place to Begin Lent PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 23 February 2009 11:34
I know that we've been absent alot lately from the blog.  Fr. Mike is doing the pre, mid, and post-Lenten mission tour and I'm slogging  through the grindingly slow business of trying to write a book while while still dealing with tons of smaller scale but urgent stuff.
Small stuff.  Like you decide to save time by finding a neat little winsome Catholic summary of the kerygma  to mail out to a diocesan group to prep for an upcoming training and spend the better part of three weeks and uncounted hours looking for it, talking to people about it, reading other people's unpublished summaries, having people offer their stuff only to discover that it is really isn't finished and/or really isn't available.  And all the time, the clock is ticking and the final product has to be in their hands for the first week of Lent.
It is enough to drive you back to the Four Spiritual Laws. 
Which is why I spent almost all of last weekend working my way through and summarizing Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa's wonderful Life in Christ:  A Spiritual Commentary on the Letter to the Romans.  
There are much less fruitful things a woman can do the weekend before Ash Wednesday than meditate on God's love, sin, the true nature of faith, and Christ's passion and resurrection. 
And I have gathered some wonderful quotes.
(FWIF, Cantalamessa wrote originally in Italian and uses the older inclusive masculine to denote all human beings which we haven't heard much in standard American English for about 20 years.  I know this is a neuralgic point for some but I also know that in charity I need to acknowledge it because it will put the people - especially women  - at ease who are put off their stride by the absence of the sort of pronoun usage that they have become used to.   In the quotes, the obviously universal "he" and "him" does include all of us including estrogen-based life forms.  Like me.  My point in this post is not the same old culture wars debate so don't bother commenting on the language. ) 
Listen to what Cantalamessa is saying about Christ . . .

"the most important thing is not that man should love 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.” (I John 4:10)

" . . .In loving, God does not even seek his glory or rather, he does seek his glory but this glory is nothing other than that of loving man gratuitously.   St. Irenaeus said that “God’s glory is man full alive”.  “God didn’t procure Abraham’s friendship because he needed it but because, being good, he wanted to grant Abraham eternal life . . .because God’s friendship procures incorruptibility and eternal life.   . "
“Only divine revelation really knows what sin is and neither human ethics nor philosophy can tell us anything about it.  No man can say by himself what sin is, for the simple reason that he himself is in sin.  . . .“To have a weak understanding of sin is part of our being sinners."
A Father of the 4th century wrote these extraordinarily up-to-date “existential” words: 
“For every man the beginning of life is the moment when Christ was immolated for him.  But Christ is immolated for him at the moment he acknowledges grace and become conscious of the life obtained for him by means of that immolation." (St. Cyril of Jerusalem)  Therefore, the death of Christ becomes real and true for us the moment we become conscious of it, confirm it, and rejoice and give thanks for it.

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