Resurrection Helps Us to Understand Pleasure, Says Papal Preacher

Last Lenten Meditation Before Holy Week

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 22, 2002 ( The Church has the challenge «to evangelize pleasure and joy,» which for many people seem to be enemies of God, the Papal Household preacher said in his last pre-Holy Week meditation.

As on all Fridays this Lent, John Paul II and his Roman Curia aides paused today to hear a meditation of Father Raniero Cantalamessa on the «Face of the Risen One.»

The face of Christ is not sufficiently contemplated at times because of a certain tradition that concentrates the «intense period» of pastoral initiatives and the celebration of rites in Lent, the Papal Household preacher said.

Such a Lenten focus a disadvantage, said the Capuchin friar. «One has the opportunity to evangelize and to sanctify suffering,» but «joy» is not sufficiently evangelized, he contended.

The risk is that the themes of the Passion prevail over those of Easter — such as «exultation and celebration,» the friar added. In the first centuries of Christianity, before the institution of Lent, Easter was the privileged time for the sacraments, catechesis and the liturgy, Father Cantalamessa said.

«In today´s world we realize ever more that to evangelize pleasure and joy is no less important than to evangelize pain,» he said. This «leads youth — and not only them — to think of God as an enemy of joy, that with God every pleasure, all celebrations, every explosion of joy is a sin,» he continued.

Nothing is further from the truth, the papal preacher insisted. The empty tomb is the very image of that unbreakable human aspiration for pleasure, exactly as God understands it, he said.

«The resurrection of Christ is the supreme affirmation that at the end of life there is not suffering and renunciation, but joy and enjoyment. Jesus has broken the chain of pleasure that generates suffering and has replaced it with the suffering that generates pleasure,» the Capuchin explained.

«Hence, joy has the last word, not suffering,» he concluded. «We have a great need to make the face of the Risen One shine before the eyes of our contemporaries!»

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