VATICAN CITY, DEC. 9, 2001 (Zenit.org).- In a meditation to help prepare John Paul II and his aides for Christmas, a Capuchin friar said that eternity enables one to understand the meaning of Sept. 11.
As happens every year, on Friday the Holy Father put aside his concerns and sat down to hear a meditation by Father Raniero Cantalamessa, Papal Household preacher, in preparation for the birth of Jesus.
From the modern mosaics of the “Redemptoris Mater” chapel in the Vatican Rooms, where the Pontiff and his closest aides were gathered, attention was directed to the tragedy of New York´s Twin Towers.
“In last Sunday´s Gospel, the first of Advent, Jesus said that at the hour that you least expect it, the Son of Man will come. This does not only refer to his last coming, but also to those comings that St. Bernard calls ´intermediate,´ namely, while history lasts,” Father Cantalamessa explained.
“We are living today one of these intermediary comings that make history, given what happened on Sept. 11, which reminds us to a degree of what happened with the destruction of Jerusalem, which for Jesus was, so to speak, the end of the world, of a world: the Jewish world,” the Capuchin added.
<br> “With his work ´De Civitate Dei,” St. Augustine helps us to overcome this crisis, as in the year 410 Christians lived through something similar to what we are experiencing, when Alaric conquered Rome and devastated it,” Father Cantalamessa said.
“Given that Rome at the time was the guarantor of stability in the world, it was thought that perhaps it was the end of the world, as we believed, given certain recent events,” he added.
“However, Augustine showed that Christians´ faith must endure, because God is not the guarantor of our good down here, but of the good that lasts eternally,” the papal preacher continued.
Hence, St. Augustine helps us to surmount this moment by reminding us of the right attitude of a Christian: “to see things from the angle of eternity, a word that we have quite forgotten,” the Capuchin stressed.
“This word can also help us to see the good that is evident in this situation,” the priest said. We “must allow God to bring good from this evil.”
He continued: “No one would dare approve of terrorism, but neither does anyone approve of the previous situation as though it were ideal. There were situations that we should acknowledge were intolerable.
“Perhaps the Lord wants to push us to change. He wishes to use these events, for example, to change our attitude toward poverty in the world, a situation that is certainly intolerable.”
The Capuchin priest concluded by suggesting to each person that they repeat the words of St. Teresa of Avila: “Let nothing disturb you, nothing frighten you, all things are passing, God is unchanging. Patience gains all; nothing is lacking to him who has God: God alone is sufficient.”
On Dec. 14 and 21, Father Cantalamessa will preach two more meditations to the Pope and his aides in preparation for Christmas.