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Papal Preacher Speaks to Boston Priests

By Fr. Robert J. Carr
Catholic Online

Boston, MA--Papal Household Preacher Fr. Raniero Catalamessa, OFM, cap. spoke Sunday night to Boston priests at St. John's Seminary in that city.

Delivering the homily after the gospel in evening prayer, held within Eucharistic Adoration, Fr. Catalamessa addressed an estimated 150 priests in the chapel. Cardinal Elect Sean O'Malley presided at the liturgy.

A World Renown speaker, author and preacher, Father Cantalamessa, spoke about the difference between Christian salvation and salvation as it is understood outside of Christianity.

"Prior to Christ, the Jews understood sin then conversion and then salvation. Jesus changes this to sin, salvation, conversion," he preached. Fr. Cantalamessa drew on the reading for evening prayer Mark 1:15.

The Jews believed if they lived the Ten Commandments then they could approach God and expect a reward. However, Jesus changes all of this, he explained. Jesus shows us God's justice where we become justified by God first. "It is like the king merits a crown but does not want it, so he just gives it to you."

Unlike any other religion, Fr. Cantalamessa explained, it is God who provides the salvation and we respond. Therefore, he said, Christian morality is not based on doing good things and then getting a reward, but on thanksgiving for the gift of salvation that we received.

Fr. Cantalamessa explained that this became lost during the aftermath of Martin Luther. Luther understood that we are saved by grace not by works. However, the Papal Preacher explained, works are necessary in response to faith. "The Council of Trent had this correct," he said. "But in the practice in the aftermath with the focus by Luther on justification by faith alone, the works became emphasized among Catholics."

He went on to cite the example of Paul's Letter to the Romans in which the Apostle, in the first part of the letter, discusses justification by faith and in the second, starting with Romans 12, he writes of those things we need to do as Christians. In response to the Reformation the latter part of Romans became emphasized over the former.

Fr. Cantalamessa lamented that Catholics are leaving the Church in droves because this message is not being preached. Pentecostal and evangelical preachers are telling the people that there is no condemnation now for those who are in Christ Jesus from Paul's letter to the Romans. We too have to preach this message, he explained. However, he said, the Pentecostal/Evangelical focus is on the moment of conversion. Catholics focus is on growing in faith in the gospel throughout a lifetime.

"We have the Magisterium, tradition and the sacraments," he said which he explained the others do not have. This gives a richness of Catholicism that people cannot find elsewhere. Citing The Sacrament of Reconciliation specifically, he compared it to a fine clothing store in Rome. "Imagine a homeless person, all dirty and covered in rags goes to this store, takes a shower and then is able to pick any set of beautiful expensive clothes in this store he wants for free. That is what the Sacrament of Reconciliation is like. We walk in with our sins like rags and come out all cleansed like we are with a new set of expensive clothes."

Father Cantalamessa was in Boston to preach at the Boston Men's Conference, a successful gathering of over 5000 Catholic men who came to hear Cantalamessa, Fr. Corapi from EWTN, and lay speakers Scott Hahn and Sean Forrest. They also had the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Cardinal Elect Sean O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston presided over the closing liturgy for the Conference. The Boston newspapers held a media blackout of the event. The Boston Globe reported nothing about it in its Sunday Newspapers and the Boston Herald ran an attack story on one sentence spoken by Sean Forrest about the roles of men and women in the Church and at home.

Father Cantalamessa spoke to the priests of the Archdiocese as part of a celebration of the Catholic season of Lent, in which Catholics put a special focus on deepening their faith and coming closer to Christ.


Catholicism Anew MA, US
Fr. Robert J. Carr - Priest, 617 230-3300



Fr. Ronald Cantalamessa, Archdiocese of Boston, salvation, luther, works

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