Cardinal Ravasi: The believer "as a baby weaned"

2013-02-20 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) Faith as a conscious, free and passionate adhesion and man's encounter with limitation. These were the themes of Wednesday morning’s meditations led by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, in the presence of Pope Benedict and the Roman Curia. Emer McCarthy reports:

The Cardinal began with Psalm 131, a short Pslam, and "sort of symbol of a childhood spirituality" where we find the characteristics of the believer, he who "places his hope in God".

However, that Psalm opens with the antipode of faith, it speaks of “pride, haughtiness, absolute self-sufficiency, placing ourselves on a par with God, This is original sin".

Freedom, is the other key word for the Christian. And it is in the image of the "weaned child", typical of Eastern symbolism, that the psalmist celebrates a faith that is adherence and at the same time choice. A child now grown up, weaned from the mother who nourishes him, separated by an act of love and freedom:

"A faith that is adherence, consciously adhering, freely adhering, intensely and passionately adhering. Undoubtedly, not for nothing, 'like a weaned child' is repeated twice and then the last verse is a call to all Israel, to hope, and to trust in the Lord. We should also learn from the great history of spirituality, above all we have to learn this, we who have reached perhaps a level of responsibility, dignity, even within the Church, or who hold roles of some importance and who at times are called to make decisions that affect people. Probably the temptation creeps in, slowly and subtly, to look down on others from on high".

By remaining childlike we can nurture our faith he continues, citing the example of little St. Therese of Lisieux as well as Christ’s teaching. He said they teach us how to trust and remain pure, like children:

"They trustingly put their hands in the hands of adults, this is the great drama. The shame of paedophilia is also there, because the child, out of trust, spontaneously abandons himself to the adult, to his father. Spontaneously he puts his hand in that of the other, but it is also important to discover why. He has a symbolic vision of reality - as we know - not an analytical one, so the child is able to realize certain truths. And this is why listening to them really is a lesson especially for us, because they bring us back to basics, they ask us those famous whys which we often do not know how to respond to and yet which are so important. Therefore from the human point of view it is important to find, follow, listen to this child in us, but especially from the inner clarity of the Faith, trust, abandonment". “I go to him as a baby goes to his mother so that he can fill me and invade all and take me in his arms (Elisabeth of the Trinity)”, he concluded.

In the second meditation, Cardinal Ravasi focused on man as a frail creature, tested by the pain of living, distressed, man who is experiencing the limitation and the finitude of his person. "Shadow", "breath" – we pray in Psalm 39 – we cry and ask for "the number of my days." Harsh words and of great relevance, noted the Cardinal, in a world where there is a superficial atmosphere, a sort of "narcosis which eliminates the big questions":

"Just think of the television, which is the true and great Moloch within our homes. We already know all about fashion, about what we should eat, how we should dress, choose, etc. but we no longer have a voice that shows us the path and meaning of this life, especially when it is so fragile, so miserable. That is why it is important to come back again to the great themes. Have the courage to propose great thoughts, I think one of the great problems of today's youth is that they are no longer able to find meaningful answers and so they allow themselves to drift and be swayed by contemporary society".

The Cardinal spoke of the need to have a sense of our human limitations to help in overcoming contemporary superficiality, but Cardinal Ravasi also emphasized the need to return to the "poor, simple naked prayer" and invited people to question the meaning of suffering " not only with comforting, second-hand and cold words

"Some who were not believers, perhaps begin to cry out. There exists, therefore, a sort of 'paideia', also of pedagogy that is realized in pain. But …in the end pain itself presents us with an element of crisis: a crisis with the world and a crisis with God”. “What is your life? You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears (James 4,14)”


But – concluded the cardinal – “despite the darkness, the Christian experience always opens up to a horizon of light where darkness never has the last word.”