Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa preaches to the pope and top Vatican officials on the Fridays of Advent and Lent. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Prayer, not activism, is key to evangelization, preacher tells pope

By  Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service
  • December 9, 2011

VATICAN CITY - The Catholic Church's project of "new evangelization" faces two dangers: people thinking others will do the work and people so fired up to preach the Gospel, they forget to pray, said the preacher of the papal household.

Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, who preaches to the pope and top Vatican officials on the Fridays of Advent and Lent, dedicated his December 2011 series to lessons the church can learn from its own history of evangelization efforts.

Focusing Dec. 9 on the contribution of monastic orders beginning in the 5th century, Father Cantalamessa said their example is a reminder of "the importance of the contemplative life in view of evangelization."

The first of the dangers facing today's efforts to re-proclaim the Gospel is "inertia, laziness, not doing anything and letting others do everything," he said.

"The other is launching oneself in a feverish -- and empty -- human activism, which results in losing contact little by little with the source of the word and its effectiveness," he said.

Father Cantalamessa said people sometimes tell him it's hard to stay still and silent and pray when the world so obviously needs ministers and missionaries.

"It's true. But imagine what would happen if a squad of firefighters runs so fast at the sound of an alarm to put out a fire, but once on the scene realizes that they have no tanks, not even a drop of water with them," he said.

"That's how we are if we run out to preach without praying," he told the pope and curia officials. "One who prays without speaking does more evangelization than one who speaks without praying."

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