Pope Francis concludes Evangelii Gaudium with this prayer to our Blessed Mother:
Mary, Virgin and Mother,
you who, moved by the Holy Spirit,
welcomed the word of life
in the depths of your humble faith:
as you gave yourself completely to the Eternal One,
help us to say our own “yes”
to the urgent call, as pressing as ever,
to proclaim the good news of Jesus.
Filled with Christ’s presence,
you brought joy to John the Baptist,
making him exult in the womb of his mother.
Brimming over with joy,
you sang of the great things done by God.
Standing at the foot of the cross
with unyielding faith,
you received the joyful comfort of the resurrection,
and joined the disciples in awaiting the Spirit
so that the evangelizing Church might be born.
Obtain for us now a new ardour born of the resurrection,
that we may bring to all the Gospel of life
which triumphs over death.
Give us a holy courage to seek new paths,
that the gift of unfading beauty
may reach every man and woman.
Virgin of listening and contemplation,
Mother of love, Bride of the eternal wedding feast,
pray for the Church, whose pure icon you are,
that she may never be closed in on herself
or lose her passion for establishing God’s kingdom.
Star of the new evangelisation,
help us to bear radiant witness to communion,
service, ardent and generous faith,
justice and love of the poor,
that the joy of the Gospel
may reach to the ends of the earth,
illuminating even the fringes of our world.
Mother of the living Gospel,
wellspring of happiness for God’s little ones,
pray for us.
In Chapter Two of Volume Two of Sober Intoxication of the Spirit, Fr Cantalamessa presents the following perspective on the place of prayer groups, communities and the charismatic renewal in the Church (pp. 29-31):
I have asked myself sometimes what in some of the prayer groups and budding communities that are rising up here and there in the charismatic renewal pleases Jesus so much that he would manifest so much power and so many wonders in them. It seemed to me that the secret of what makes them so precious to God is their absolute poverty, the fact that they have no past and hardly any future. They are almost a “nothing,” like certain life forms that appear in the morning and disappear in the evening, reabsorbed into the great bosom of life, or like a little cloud that calmly disappears from the sky after having poured out all its water.
Traditional religious orders have a past, often a glorious one; recent ones (lay institutes; ecclesial movements) have a future and are sometimes very aware of it. God is looking for something very, very small among so many grand and established groups (which do please him and are useful to him), something that he can take just as it is, without having to be concerned about its past or its future. He is looking for something that will be useful to him, for an instant, something unencumbered that wants nothing and asks for nothing in return for pleasing God and for making his power and his wishes shine forth in the world.
Do we want to be that small thing that is precious to God? Do we want to be that instrument of “nothing” in his omnipotent hand? Then, let us not worry about “setting up house”; let us not worry about assuring that the charismatic renewal has a future among today’s ecclesial realities; let us not worry about numbers.
Let it be enough for us that the future of the Church is already assured. Let the Church be enough for us, as institution. For our part, let us try, if we can, to remain prophetic for the Church, even if it is only in small measure. Let us continue to draw directly from the Church, especially from the local Church, all that is necessary to live a life of the Spirit — sacraments, authority, ministries, and doctrine. Let us continue to pour out all that we are, even though we are small, directly into the bosom of life that is the Church — quietly or also openly, if it is possible and if it is requested. Let us try to be that little cloud, ready to disappear, after it has poured out all its water on the Church.
I had hardly come into contact with the charismatic renewal when, one day in prayer, I was struck with certain thoughts. I seemed to sense the new thing the Lord was doing in the Church through the charismatic renewal. I took a sheet of paper and a pen and wrote down some thoughts, which surprised me, as they came without premeditation:
The Father wants to glorify the Son, Jesus Christ, on earth in a new way, through a new intervention. The Holy Spirit is appointed to carry out this glorification because it is written: “He will glorify me and take that which is mine.” A Christian life entirely consecrated to God, without a founder, without a rule, and without new congregations. The Founder: Jesus! The Rule: the gospel interpreted by the Holy Spirit! The Congregation: the Church! Do not worry about tomorrow, do not try to make something that will remain, and do not set in motion recognized organizations that can be perpetuated by successors….Jesus is a Founder who never dies, so there is no need for successors. We always need to let him do new things, even tomorrow. The Holy Spirit will remain in the Church, even tomorrow!
Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput addressed bishops from Canada, the United States and Latin America at a meeting sponsored by the Pontifical Commission for Latin America on Saturday, November 16th in Mexico City. He highlighted some challenges confronting the New Evangelization in our part of the world.
Msgr Charles Pope recently offered a wonderful post on the New Evangelization. It included this insightful mini-examen regarding our relationship with Jesus:
Critical though it is, all the apologetics in the world may founder if we cannot authentically and authoritatively answer the question “How do I know it’s true?” by saying, authentically:
“Look at me. ” In other words to be able to say, “This word, this teaching, is true, because in the laboratory of my own life, I have tested it, and found it to be true, and here’s how. And Jesus is real, because I have met him and here’s when, and here is how. And here is how I’m experiencing him today in my life. Yes, when I pray, I am heard. The Lord speaks in the depths of my heart, sometimes in wordless contemplation, at other times vividly through his proclaimed word, and in my mind, and in the experiences and interactions of my day. I see him, I know him, and I experience his presence, and this is changing my life.”
- Can you authentically speak like this?
- Have you met the Lord,?
- How, when?
- Do you know him?
- And how is your relationship with him changing your life?
- What has your walk with him done?
- Have you encountered him in his word, and in the sacraments celebrated?
- How, when, and what has this liturgical experience of the Lord done for you?
- How is it changing you?
These are essential questions and truths to ponder to be able to answer briefly and articulately if we are going to personally evangelize others today.
Ask the Holy Spirit to anoint you to know the answers to these sorts of questions, and to be able to access the memories of how the Lord is living, working and relating with you in your life. Ask God the Holy Spirit to help you form a testimony, so as to become a first-hand witness to the power of the Lord in your life!
It would be a good exercise for us to answer the questions he poses. If we struggle to provide answers to these questions, perhaps we are assuming more of a relationship with Jesus than we really have with Him. If the answers we provide are weak, perhaps we need to strengthen our efforts to seek the Lord and implore His grace. If our personal attempts to evangelize have been not been fruitful, it could be because the foundation of our efforts – our personal relationship with Jesus – needs to be fortified.
In a follow-up post, Msgr Pope shares his personal testimony.
In his weekly General Audience yesterday, Pope Francis reminded us that communion among Christians grows when we exercise our charisms selflessly, and poses some charism-related questions for our reflection:
A second aspect of communion in holy things is that of the communion of charisms. The Holy Spirit dispenses to the faithful a multitude of spiritual gifts and graces; this so to speak “fanciful” richness of gifts of the Holy Spirit is aimed at the building of the Church. The charisms – a somewhat difficult word – are presents that the Holy Spirit gives us, abilities, possibilities … Presents given not for them to be hidden, but to share with others. They are not given for the benefit of the one who receives them, but for the benefit of the People of God. If, instead, a charism, one of these presents, serves to affirm the self, we must doubt that it is a genuine charism or that it is faithfully lived. The charisms are particular graces given to some to do good to many others. They are attitudes, inspirations and interior impulses, which are born in the conscience and in the experience of specific persons, who are called to put them at the service of the community. In particular, these spiritual gifts are for the advantage of the sanctity of the Church and of her mission. We are all called to respect them in ourselves and in others, to receive them as useful stimulants for the presence and fecund work of the Church. Saint Paul admonished: “Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Let us not quench the Spirit that gives us these presents, these abilities, these very beautiful virtues that make the Church grow.
What is our attitude in face of these gifts of the Holy Spirit? Are we aware that the Spirit of God is free to give them to whom He wishes? Do we consider them as a spiritual help, through which the Lord sustains our faith and reinforces our mission in the world?
As a result of the recent election held in Assisi — and attended by Jim & Valerie Gialanella — the new President of the Catholic Fraternity is Gilberto Barbosa, who is a leader in the Asociaçao Comunidade Obra de Maria (OPUS MARIAE) in Brazil.
Almost a month after Pope Francis called for a synod in October which will discuss the pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization, Rocco updates us in this post, which includes the entire text of the preparatory document, which he describes as
…an initial summary to guide the preparations for next October’s Extraordinary Synod on “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family,” with specific questions for the local churches to answer over the year to come with an eye to aiding the process.
Dated 18 October, the summary with a cover-letter from the newly-named Secretary-General of the Synod, Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, was circulated yesterday to the US bishops via the conference, seeking the body’s input by December 31st to forward to Rome. (Ostensibly released to the bench via the private “bishops-only website,” a copy of the package was obtained by Whispers earlier today.) In keeping with Baldisseri’s request that Chanceries share the text “as widely as possible to deaneries and parishes” for their input, some Stateside dioceses have already begun to move toward extending the consultation process into the local level.
He also highlights the primary differences between a normal synod and an extraordinary synod:
…the distinction from the norm lies largely in a more intimate, less clunky – and as a result, arguably more effective – format; unlike the ordinary assembly (comprised of scores of elected bishop-delegates and appointed observers), an extraordinary Synod’s makeup consists mostly of the presidents of the episcopal conferences ex officio, with a select number of papal appointees. In addition, the 2014 gathering’s two-week duration – 5-19 October – is a reduction by half of the Synods’ eventual length over most of John Paul II’s pontificate…Further information on the Synod’s altered modus operandi will be given next Tuesday at a Vatican press conference…
Click “Read the rest of this entry” to read the text of the preparatory document as it was reprinted by Rocco.
Some weeks ago, in this very square, I said that in order to have a healthy family, three words need to be used. And I want to repeat these three words: please, thank you, sorry. Three essential words! We say please so as not to be forceful in family life: “May I please do this? Would you be happy if I did this?”. We do this with a language that seeks agreement. We say thank you, thank you for love! But be honest with me, how many times do you say thank you to your wife, and you to your husband? How many days go by without uttering this word, thanks! And the last word: sorry. We all make mistakes and on occasion someone gets offended in the marriage, in the family, and sometimes – I say – plates are smashed, harsh words are spoken but please listen to my advice: don’t ever let the sun set without reconciling. Peace is made each day in the family: “Please forgive me”, and then you start over. Please, thank you, sorry! Shall we say them together? [They reply “yes”] Please, thank you and sorry. Let us say these words in our families! To forgive one another each day!
As we remember the departed this All Souls Day in the Year of Faith, it would be good to ponder Benedict XVI’s 2006 reflection on death.
Here’s an excerpt:
Faith reminds us that there is no need to be afraid of the death of the body because, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s [Rm 14: 8]. And with St Paul, we know that even if we are separated from our bodies we are with Christ, whose Risen Body, which we receive in the Eucharist, is our eternal and indestructible dwelling place.
True death, on the other hand, which is to be feared, is the death of the soul which the Book of Revelation calls “the second death” (cf. Rv 20: 14-15; 21: 8). In fact, those who die in mortal sin without repentance, locked into their proud rejection of God’s love, exclude themselves from the Kingdom of life.