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CANTALAMESSA-JOY Dec-21-2012 (380 words) xxxi

Preacher tells pope joy is key to new evangelization

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Even when the Catholic Church acknowledges its struggles and the sinfulness of some of its members, it must hold on to the joy that flows from God's love and salvation in Christ, said the preacher of the papal household.

"When the world comes knocking at the church's doors -- even when it does so violently and in anger -- it does so because it is looking for joy," Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa told Pope Benedict XVI and top Vatican officials.

Father Cantalamessa, the preacher of the papal household, gave the last of his 2012 Advent reflections to the pope and his closest aides Dec. 21, focusing on how joy is key to the new evangelization.

"What the world seeks is joy," he said. "This is that joy to which we must bear witness."

The joy described in the Gospel stories of Jesus' birth, he said, is not a matter of a "few scattered hints of gladness," but rather "a rush of calm and profound joy."

The task of the church, he said, is to lead people to experience that same deep joy that comes from knowing Christ's birth, death and resurrection have changed history forever.

Catholics connect with that joy by remembering the works God has accomplished and by being aware of God's continuing presence and action.

"If the church today wishes to rediscover paths of courage and joy amid all the anxieties and tribulations that beset her, she must open her eyes to all that God is accomplishing in her this very day," he said. God's continuing presence is still seen in "marvelous stories of holiness," stories so impressive that "one day -- when all the negativity and sin have vanished into thin air -- perhaps future generations shall look upon our age with wonder and with holy envy."

Father Cantalamessa told the pope and Vatican officials that he wasn't suggesting "closing our eyes to the many evils that afflict the church and to the betrayal of so many of her ministers."

However, he said, "at a time when the world and its media put nothing before us regarding the church except these things, it is good every now and then to lift one's gaze and look upon her luminous side, her sanctity."

END


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