Carlo Maria Martini; Vera Castelli Theisen, Translator
A Prophetic Voice in the City is neither an exegetical commentary on the book of Jeremiah nor a continuous reading of the fifty-two chapters as they are proposed by the Bible. Instead, Cardinal Martini delves deeply into some astounding pages of the prophet that are especially appropriate in pursuing the dynamics essential to spiritual exercises: To purify the heart, to free the heart from all slavery, and to find the will of God. Cardinal Martini maintains that we must find the will of God in the context of a city divided, idolatrous, bewildered, humiliated, and wounded as Jerusalem was in the time of Jeremiah and as our cities are today. How can one still be a prophetic voice, and what does it mean? In answering this question, Cardinal Martini invites us to reflect on our resistance to the beneficial and merciful action of God; on the motives for which we abandon God and his project of salvation; on our sins as a betrayal of the covenant; on the passion of Jeremiah and on his undisputed and unwavering faithfulness to the Word; and on the pages of consolations of the prophet, for which the whole book was actually written pages that open the horizons to a vast and universal hope: The new covenant. Jeremiah, steeped in a passionate love of the One who called him to be a voice to the people, is a great solitary figure. Yet he was not this way by nature but by the force of the Word. Cardinal Martini asserts that there is no other prophet who evokes the Word of God and the divine way of acting with the same painful decision as Jeremiah: "Since I have found your words, I have devoured them. . . .Your word has become for me a daily motive of horror and scorn." Just as Jeremiah found through his interior contact with God, we find in these meditations that the only true outlook for humanity is to place all spiritual values in the forefront, to abandon ourselves with loving trust to divine actioneven and especially in the suffering of a people and of a cityand to live the strength and the joy of the Word of the Lord.
Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini the archbishop of Milan, has written extensively on spiritual formation. His more than forty books include Once More from Emmaus, In the Thick of His Ministry, Perseverance in Trials, Jacob's Dream, and The Joy of the Gospel.
"We live in harsh times, the Cardinal suggests, asserting that Jeremiah can help us move through dramatic and distressing situations. The prophet is one of the paths to knowing Jesus better. These reflections might best be read as Martini reads Jeremiah: 'as one would use a stockpile of pearls or precious stones.'"
-William C. Graham
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