God is no enemy of happiness: Friar

22 Apr 2009

By The Record

Sin keeps people from happiness, says papal preacher.                                                    


Crowd surrounds the Colosseum in Rome for the Good Friday Way of the Cross led by Pope Benedict XVI on April 10.


By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Sin – not God – is the main cause for people’s unhappiness, said the preacher of the papal household.
In his April 10 homily during the Good Friday liturgy of the Lord’s Passion in St Peter’s Basilica, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa said that sin and the refusal of God trap people in lies and injustice, condemn them to vanity and corruption, and are “the final cause also of the social evils that afflict humanity.”
He noted the advertising campaigns in several European cities and Canada where public buses were plastered with signs saying: “There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life!”
What is striking, he said, is not only the claim that God might not exist but its implication that God is an enemy of happiness.
St Paul taught that sin is “the principal cause of man’s unhappiness, the refusal of God, not God himself,” said the priest.
Drug use, an unchaste sexual life and violence may bring on an immediate sense of pleasure, but in the long run they “lead to moral dissolution and often even the physical ruin of the person,” he said.
With Christ’s passion, death and resurrection, pleasure no longer ends in suffering but leads to life and joy, he said.
Father Cantalamessa said experts and policymakers have been analysing what triggered today’s global economic crisis but few have dared to “put the ax to the roots and speak about sin.”
St. Paul defines “insatiable avarice as idolatry and he points to the root of all evil in the unbridled desire for money,” said Father Cantalamessa.
Why else would so many families today be homeless and so many workers be jobless “if not because of some people’s insatiable thirst for profit?” he asked.
“Why would so many recently constructed buildings collapse” during the April 6 earthquake in L’Aquila? he asked. What other than greed lay behind the decision to use more sand than cement in the buildings, he said.
“The elite members of the financial and economic world turned into a runaway train that steamed ahead without brakes, without stopping to think about the rest of the train that had come to a standstill on the tracks. We were headed in the completely wrong direction,” he said.
Pope Benedict XVI presided over the Good Friday liturgy held in St Peter’s Basilica. He began the rite by kneeling in front of the altar in silent prayer.
During the sermon he removed his shoes and walked to the altar to kneel before and venerate the cross.
In his homily the papal preacher said, “Christ did not come to increase human suffering or preach resignation to suffering; he came to give meaning to suffering and to announce its end and defeat.”
He said suffering is a mystery for everyone, “but without faith in God it becomes immensely more absurd. Atheism is a luxury that only those with privileged lives can afford,” he said.