Emptying ourselves into the Church

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):

CantalamessaI 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.

[snip]

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!

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One Response to Emptying ourselves into the Church

  1. Joyce says:

    Thanks Walt. Lots of food for thought and prayer!

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