General Secretariat of Formation
Br. RANIERO CANTALAMESSA OFMCAP
Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church
Transcript of the interview.
Fra Raniero Cantalamessa is with us. Pope Francis often pointed out his Capuchin simplicity. For those unaware, Fra Raniero studied patrology, was a professor at the Catholic University of Milan, then left the university and became Preacher of the Papal Household for 41 years. On November 28, 2020, he was created a Cardinal. We thank the Lord for this gift and pray that he will continue to serve the Order and the Church.
Charles Alphonse - How did your Capuchin vocation come about?
R.C. - I was 12. It was the year immediately after the end of the world war. I entered a Capuchin seminary; truthfully, I had not yet decided what I should do in life. I attended a spiritual retreat in the college 3 months after my entry, and there, with extreme clarity, I understood that the Lord was calling me to become a Capuchin-Franciscan priest. I have never experienced that kind of clarity, even later with all my theology. It was clear and I told my companions that this was the greatest grace that the Lord could give me after baptism. This conviction of being called as a direct gift from God, fortunately, has never abandoned me in life. I really think it is a great privilege.
What was the most beautiful moment in your formation training?
Well, more than a single moment, I would call it a time. So, of all the times of my life, I would say that the novitiate year was the most special. In my time of novitiate under the Capuchins, some things took place that would frighten young people today. We got up every night, we always had to keep our eyes down. I started in Camerino, which is the first friary of the Capuchin Order, where the traditions and way of life of the first Capuchins had been meticulously maintained. We could not talk to each other; the scourging was done three times a week. In the end, however, despite all this austerity, it was the most beautiful year. We see that happiness does not depend on the things we do, but on the union we have with the Lord. I would invite young people in formation, especially those who are at the pre-novitiate level, to look toward the novitiate, not as some terrible trial, but as an opportunity to go deeply into themselves and into their relationship with God.
What message would you want to share to encourage our young friars in formation? We have more than 2,000 young friars in formation.
This is a question I often get asked even at lectures I've given around the world. It gets formulated like this: what must we do to be heralds of the Gospel one day, witnesses of Jesus? Looking back, I almost always seem to end up with this conclusion: Fall in love with Jesus! Make Jesus the center of your life; we might say the North Star, the goal, the center of gravity - call him whatever you want. A personal relationship with Jesus is what sustains everything! For all the rest of formation to be both fraternal and theological, all this must be an instrument at service. But you can't live for a cause. One has to live for a Person. So my recommendation is, my dear young Capuchins, that with prayer, meditation, reading the Word of God, try to grow in an intimate relationship with Jesus. May Jesus not be simply a persona for you, but a Person! One who is close to you, one you can turn to, one who fills your life. And if I can humbly tell you, dear young people, that Jesus has filled my life, then I hope, indeed I am certain, that he also wants to do the same for you.
We extend our heartfelt thanks to you, Father Raniero, for your availability, simplicity and also your testimony. We want to ask you now for a blessing, and also that you would pray for all our friars in initial and ongoing formation. Thank you from our hearts. Please pray for us.
The Secretary of Formation asks me to give a blessing from afar to everyone, to all of you who are young people in formation.
On my Cardinal's coat of arms, I have placed a dove and under it, the phrase, “Veni Creator Spiritus”. So, I invoke the Holy Spirit upon you, the anointing of the Spirit because the Spirit gives freedom and brings joy. And now, I invoke the Holy Spirit to send upon you a renewal of your baptism. And I ask it in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The interview with Br. Raniero was conducted by Br. Charles Alphonse OFMCap, General Secretary of Formation.
Video - https://youtu.be/h8T8iurINPE