Saturday, December 18, 2010


La rievangelizzazione del mondo secolarizzato passa anche attraverso un recupero del senso del sacro”, ha osservato.
Re-evangelization of the secularized world also requires a recovery of the sense of the sacred.

“Le stesse scoperte meravigliose della scienza e della tecnica, anziché portare al disincanto, possono diventare occasioni di stupore e di esperienza del divino”.
The same wondrous discoveries of science and technology, rather than bringing a sense of disenchantment, can also become occasions of wonder and of the experience of the divine.

Allo stesso modo, nella vita umana quotidiana “non mancano occasioni in cui è possibile fare l’esperienza di un’'altra' dimensione: l’innamoramento, la nascita del primo figlio, una grande gioia”.
…everyday human life itself does not lack times when it is possible to have an experience of another dimension—falling in love, the birth of a first son, any great joy.

“Bisogna aiutare le persone ad aprire gli occhi e a ritrovare la capacità di stupirsi”, ha detto.
It is necessary to help people open their eyes and recover the ability to be amazed.

These excerpts (found on the Zenit website--my translation) are from Fr Cantalamessa’s 3rd homily for the Holy Father for the season of Advent. In playing with one of Pope Benedict’s favorite themes, that of re-evangelization of the secular world, the papal preacher emphasized the need to have eyes open to the Great Beyond (al di là, in Italian): the notion that, as Hamlet put it, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” (I, v).

It is more than an awareness of the sense of the transcendent that is lacking; it is a lack of the sense of wonder in itself. Not all things can or should be reducible to particles; there needs to be a recognition that sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Theologically, we say this is especially true of the human being, but it is also true of most of creation: of a dog’s affection, or a bluebird’s domestic sense, or a sunset’s grandeur, or a rose’s uniqueness. Yes, I am referring here to Le Petit Prince, a book of central significance for awakening the sense of the “more” in life:
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Albert Einstein was quoted as saying that the greatest thing is the sense of the mysterious. Even if one were to try to break down all existence, all creation, into its particular parts, one would still be confronted with the mysterious: quantum physics shows us this. In the words of the great scientist Niels Bohr: “Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory does not understand it.” The life of the micro-cosmos is so radically unexpected, unpredictable, that one wonders how we macro-cosmic types could think we can make universal laws at all.

But we do not need to enter into particle physics to be amazed—why not just enter into the deeper meaning of poetry, or love, or liturgy? William Blake wrote: “To see a world in a grain of sand/And heaven in a wild flower…” How do 2 otherwise unique (and solitary) beings see each other and ‘fall in love’? What can we make of a spiritual declaration that God is 3-in-1 or that bread becomes His Body?

These ideas seem radically ridiculous to some, yet the alternative is to believe creation (and oneself) to be the moral and effective equivalent of a rock—a being whose behaviors have no significance, no purpose, no value here or ultimately. To quote Thomas More (in Robert Bolt’s A Man For All Seasons)—“Some men are capable of this, but I would be loath to think your Father one of them.”

Do we have yearnings, longings, in our hearts? Why stifle them? Why not see them, in Wordsworth’s phrase, as “intimations of immortality,” hints that we are made of more than material and destined for more than a grave? Even if wrong, what really has been lost, and what has been gained?

I want to embrace the notion of transcendence (which underlies the notion of transubstantiation); I want to celebrate the reality of authentic mutual love of another; I want to see a world in a grain of sand. We are the worse as individuals and as nations for saying “no” to the possibilities this vision offers us.

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