Sunday, April 10, 2011

Preacher Calls For Selfless Love

From the National Catholic Register

In a Lenten meditation Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa explained that Christian charity should be characterized by “a love that is both sincere and active; a love from the heart and a love, so to speak, of the hands.” 

Father Cantalamessa warned that those who perform charitable acts without a heartfelt desire to help others may be merely hiding less virtuous motivations, such as “selfishness, the use of others for their own purposes, or simply a guilty conscience.”
He cited St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, in which he calls on Christians to act with charity without hypocrisy. The call for “a love that is true, authentic and not fake” was the cornerstone of St. Paul’s message, Father Cantalamessa said. Below is the passage he was referring to. 

1 Corinthians 13: 1-5, 13 
If I speak with the tongues of men, and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And if I should have prophecy and should know all mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.  And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.  Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely; is not puffed up; Is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil;
And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity.

This is one of my favorite passages on charity: 

But this I say, He which sows sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which sows bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver. – 2 Corinthians 9:6-7

 Father Cantalamessa went on to say

“Hypocritical love,” the papal preacher said, “is that which does good works without feeling, that shows off to the outside something that is not actually felt in the heart.”
With this in mind, however, it would be a “fatal error” to “hide within one’s inner charity, using it as a sort of alibi to avoid charitable actions,” he said.
With charity that comes from the inside but is also expressed on the outside, he said, “we love others with the same love God has for us.”
Father Cantalamessa said another way to promote a real spirit of love of one’s neighbor includes avoiding gossip, “which seems like something innocent, and, instead, it is one of the things that most makes living together difficult.”
Referring to Jesus’ exhortation to “Judge not, and you shall not be judged,” Father Cantalamessa warned against making negative judgments about others.
While acknowledging that it is nearly impossible to go through life without taking a measure of people and events, the quick jump to harsh judgment is contrary to the message of Christ and of St. Paul, he said.
“It is not that we need to rid our hearts of judgment,” he said. Christians should rather not succumb to “the poison, hostility and condemnation of our judgments,” he said.
Men and women are not the only ones in need of the selfless love for one another, Father Cantalamessa said. The Church, too, “has urgent need of a wave of charity that will heal its fractures,” he said, without mentioning any specific problems.

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