Ordo Fratrum Minorum Capuccinorum EN

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updated 5:08 PM UTC, Apr 16, 2024

Courage! For I am with you, says the Lord

Talk By Cardinal Fra. Raniero Cantalamessa OFMCap

The prophecy of Haggai ( 2:1-5) that I have commented on, Venerable Fathers, brothers and sisters, is linked to a personal memory and I ask your pardon if I dare to recall it again here, after some of you may have already heard it from me on another occasion. I do so in the certainty that the prophetic word returns to release its charge of confidence and hope every time it is proclaimed and listened to in faith.


The day my Superior General allowed me to leave teaching at the Catholic University, to devote myself full-time to preaching, there was, in the Liturgy of the Hours, the prophecy of Haggai that I commented on. After reciting the Office, I came here to St Peter's. I wanted to pray to the Apostle to bless my new ministry. At a certain point, while I was in the square, that word of God came powerfully back to my mind. I turned towards the Pope's window in the Apostolic Palace and began to proclaim aloud: "Courage, John Paul II, courage, cardinals, bishops and all the people of the Church: and to work because I am with you, says the Lord". It was easy to do because it was raining and there was no one around.

Except that a few months later, in 1980, I was appointed Preacher of the Papal Household and found myself in the presence of the Pope to begin my first Lent. That word resonated within me again, not as a quotation and a memory, but as a living word for that moment. I recounted what I had done that day in St Peter's Square. Then I turned to the Pope, who at that time was following the sermon from a side chapel, and forcefully repeated the words of Haggai: "Courage, John Paul II, courage you cardinals, bishops, and people of God: and get to work because I am with you, says the Lord. My Spirit will be with you'. And it seemed to me from the looks on his face that the word gave what it promised: courage, (even though John Paul II was the last person in the world to be recommended to have courage!).

Today I dare to proclaim that word again, knowing that it is not a mere quotation, but an ever-living word that returns to do each time what it promises. Courage, then, Pope Francis! Courage, brother cardinals, bishops, priests and faithful of the Catholic Church and at work, for I am with you, says the Lord. My Spirit will be with you!"

I wish everyone a Holy Easter of peace and hope.

(Thanks to Fra. Massimo Rosina OFMCap who shared this inspiring message with us).