Slide 15 Slide 2 Foto di Filippo Maria Gianfelice

Loving the Church

2005 – Servent Books, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Raniero Cantalamessa This short volume contains four reflections of lectio divina that I gave to the papal household during Lent of 2003. The final chapter was offered to a different audience and concerns the family as the “domestic Church.”

The main characteristic of lectio divina, as compared to other forms of meditation, is that its foundation is Scripture. Here Scripture does not serve as an example, nor does it function as a part of the meditation in order to illustrate a given theme. Rather, Scripture itself constitutes the theme from which everything begins and to which everything returns.

Another noteworthy characteristic of lectio divina is that it is usually a continuous reading of a particular book of the Bible. Both of these characteristics are visible in the reflections in this volume. Each is based on an excerpt from the Letter to the Ephesians, and the reflections follow the order in which the excerpts appear in Scripture.

As always with reflections given to the papal household, the first part provides some essential theological considerations about the issue at hand. The second part then presents the practical implications for the spiritual life that spring forth from those considerations. Some of these practical applications, such as those in Chapter Three on the spirituality of service to the Chair of Peter, are meant for the audience to which they were originally addressed. I keep them in the book since indirectly they may interest everyone.

Following the progression in Ephesians, we contemplate the Church under the four classical images of building, body, bride and mother. In Chapter Four, I make an observation concerning the necessity and urgency of new reflections on the mystery of the Church:

“It was predicted at the beginning of the twentieth century that that would be the century of the Church, the century in which the Church would become newly aware of its importance after the long silence of the liberal enlightenment period. This certainly happened at the theological level. There were countless studies on the nature of the Church. Karl Barth called his study Church Dogmatics. The Second Vatican Council made his work a focal point. There was also the Ecclesiam suam of Paul VI. But did love for the Church grow proportionately?”

One cannot read the affirmation of Ephesians 5:25, “Christ loved the Church,” without asking the question, “And I? Do I love the Church?”