Fourth Lenten Sermon Given by Cardinal Cantalamessa Fourth Lenten Sermon Given by Cardinal Cantalamessa  (Vatican Media)

Cardinal Cantalamessa: Jesus humbles Himself in the Eucharist

Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa delivers his fourth Sermon for Lent 2022 to Pope Francis and the Roman Curia, reflecting on ‘the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.’

By Deborah Castellano  Lubov

Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap., Preacher of the Papal Household, has given his fourth 2022 Lenten Sermon on ‘The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist’ to Pope Francis and the Roman Curia in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall on Friday morning, one day before the Pope departs for his Apostolic Visit to Malta.

The theme of the Cardinal’s Lenten meditations this year is: “'Take, eat: this is my body' – A mystagogical catechesis on the Eucharist."

The Cardinal reflected Friday on the Eucharist as the Real Presence of the Risen Christ in the Church, after having in his previous 2022 Lenten Sermons explored the three main parts of the Mass – the Liturgy of the Word, the Consecration and Holy Communion.

Eucharistic Pilgrimage

In his catechesis, Cardinal Cantalamessa discussed the Eucharist from the point of view of different Christian traditions, exploring the Orthodox and Protestant understandings in particular.

Noting “we have now terminated our little Eucharistic pilgrimage” through the different Christian denominations, he said: “We have collected a few baskets of crumbs from the big multiplication of bread in the Church.”

“But we cannot conclude here our reflections on the mystery of the Real Presence,” the Franciscan Cardinal insisted: “It would be like collecting the crumbs and not eating them.”

“Faith in the Real Presence is a wonderful thing, but it is not enough,” the Papal Preacher observed, telling the Pope’s collaborators the Eucharist must be experienced.

Must Experience Eucharist Like Fire

Even if one has an exact and theologically perfect idea of Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist, more is needed, the Cardinal highlighted. “Many theologians know all about the mystery, yet they do not know the Real Presence. In biblical terms, you ‘know’ something only when you have experienced it.”

“To know fire, you would have to have been, at least once, so close to a flame to risk being burnt.”

He reminded the Curia that from faith and the “sentiment” of the Real Presence, “reverence must spring spontaneously, and, indeed, a sense of tenderness for Jesus in the Sacrament.” He told them that this is “such a delicate and personal sentiment that words might even destroy it.”

Humbles Himself in a Morsel of Bread

Cardinal Cantalamessa recalled in a special way how Saint Francis of Assisi’s heart overflowed with sentiments of reverence and tenderness before Jesus in the Eucharist, just as he was moved before the Child of Bethlehem, seeing Him “so helpless, so entrusted to humanity, so humble.”

The Preacher recalled the saint addressed this in his Letter to all the Friars, where he implored, “Let heaven exult when Christ, the Son of the Living God, is on the altar in the hands of the priest…”

In that text, St. Francis recalled how the Lord of the Universe, God and the Son of God, “so humbles Himself that for our salvation He hides Himself under a morsel of bread,” and urged: “Consider, brothers, the humility of God” and "pour out your hearts before Him, and be ye humbled that ye may be exalted by Him.” 

Cardinal Cantalamessa concluded with St. Francis of Assisi’s fervent invitation: “Do not therefore keep back anything for yourselves that He may receive you entirely who gives Himself up entirely to you.”

01 April 2022, 12:05