Preacher Highlights Sprit's Role in Creation

Father Cantalamessa Delivers 1st Lenten Sermon

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 15, 2009 ( For a more complete understanding of creation and the evolution of the cosmos, it is necessary to consider to role of the Holy Spirit, says the preacher of the Pontifical Household.

Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa said this Friday in his first Lenten sermon for 2009, given at the Vatican in the presence of Benedict XVI and the Curia. The theme of the sermon was «All Creation Has Been Groaning and Suffering in Labor Pains (Romans 8:22): The Holy Spirit in the Creation and Transformation of the Cosmos.»

In his address Father Cantalamessa touched upon the question of «the presence, or lack there of, of a divine project internal to creation,» which he noted was apt to consider given that this year marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s death.

«In Paul’s view,» he began, «God is at the beginning and end of the world’s history. He mysteriously guides it toward a purpose, making even the excesses of human liberty serve this purpose. The material world serves man and man serves God.»

Father Cantalamessa said the current dialogue between science and faith «is about knowing whether the cosmos was thought of and willed by someone, or if it is the result of ‘chance and necessity’; if its path displays signs of an intelligence and moves toward a precise purpose, or if it evolves blindly, so to speak, obeying only its own laws and biological mechanisms.»

Missing page

«If we go back over the story of the world, as you would flip through a book from the last page toward the first, when we finished we would realize that the first page was missing, the ‘incipit,'» the preacher said. «We know everything about the world, except why and how it began.

«The believer is convinced that the Bible provides us just this first page that is missing. Just as in every book, this is the page where the name, author and title of the book are written!»

The preacher proceeded to answer the question of the origins of the world according to a particularly Christian vision, thus taking as his starting point Paul’s statement in Colossians, according to which «all things were created through him and for him.»

«Christ appears in this vision as the Omega Point, that is, as the meaning and final destination of cosmic and human evolution,» he said.

Father Cantalamessa noted, however, was that «for a completely Trinitarian vision of the problem,» it was necessary to have «an understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit in the creation and evolution of the cosmos.»

Mysterious strength

He explained: «This is required by the basic principle of Trinitarian theology according to which the works ad extra of God are shared by all three of the persons of the Trinity, each of which participates in them with their own characteristics.

«The Pauline text we are meditating on allows us to fill this gap. The allusion to creation’s labor pains is made within the context of Paul’s discourse on the different workings of the Holy Spirit. He sees continuity between the creation’s groaning and the Christian’s which is openly placed in relationship with the Spirit. […] The Holy Spirit is the mysterious strength that pushes creation toward its fulfillment.»

Concerning the Spirit’s role or place in creation, the preacher explained that «the Holy Spirit is not at the beginning, but so to say, at the end of creation, just as it is not at the beginning, but rather the end of the Trinitarian process. St. Basil writes that in creation, the Father is the principle cause, he from whom all things are; the Son is the efficient cause, he through whom all things are made; the Holy Spirit is the perfecting cause.»

Father Cantalamessa added: «The creating action of the Spirit is, therefore, the origin of the perfection of creation. We would say that he is not so much the one who makes the world go from the nothing to being, but rather he who makes the world go from being formless to being formed and perfected.»

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