FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE WAY FORWARD IN CHRIST
POPE’S ADDRESS TO CHARISMATIC RENEWAL
July 22, 2015
Last July 3-4 in Rome, Pope Francis addressed the charismatic renewal. Now our spirituality, both in CFC-FFL and LCSC, is charismatic. But sometimes this becomes an obstacle to acceptance by some pastors and lay leaders. So we all need to understand how charismatic spirituality is an essential element of the methodology of Pentecost and is intended for effective evangelization to the ends of the earth.
What follows are quotes from Pope Francis’ address. I include my commentary in italics.
It was then that Cardinal Suenens got to know Charismatic Renewal, which he described as a “flow of grace” …. In the Mass of Pentecost Monday in 1975, Pope Paul VI thanked him with these words: “In the name of the Lord I thank you for having brought Charismatic Renewal into the heart of the Church.”
Comment: Charismatic renewal is very much accepted and welcome into our Church, and is considered a flow of grace and a great blessing by our popes.
…. in the homily of that Mass itself, the Cardinal said: “May Charismatic Renewal be able to disappear as such and be transformed into a Pentecostal grace for the whole Church: to be faithful to its origin, the river must be lost in the ocean.”
Comment: Charismatic renewal and spirituality are intended to be mainstream for the whole Church, to become normative in the lives of Catholics. A life in the Spirit should be the normal Christian life.
The Cardinal continued saying: “…. it is a current of grace, a renewing breath of the Spirit for all the members of the Church, laymen, Religious, priests and Bishops. It is a challenge for us all.”
Comment: Charismatic renewal is appropriate for all Catholics, including priests, religious and bishops.
Here Cardinal Suenens talks of the sovereign work of the Spirit, who without human founders aroused the current of grace in 1967. Men and women renewed that, after having received the grace of Baptism in the Spirit, as fruit of this grace gave life to Associations, Covenant Communities, schools of formation, schools of evangelization, Religious Congregations, Ecumenical Communities, Communities of help to the poor and the needy.
Comment: Both CFC-FFL and LCSC have arisen from that grace of baptism in the Spirit. Note that the term “baptism in the Spirit,” our use of which some clerics object to, is used by Pope Francis.
Last year at the Stadium I spoke also of unity in diversity. I gave the example of an orchestra. …. The model is the polyhedron, which reflects the confluence of all the parts that maintain their originality in it and these are the charisms, in unity but in their own diversity — unity in diversity.
Comment: One of LCSC’s aims is to help bring unity within the parish, by collaboration of all ministries and groups in the basic evangelization initiative, which is the Life in Christ Seminar (LCS). The different ministries and groups, in their diversity, remain as they are and do what they are tasked to do, but all work together through the LCS to bring lapsed Catholics back to God and back to the Church. Thus LCSC lives out unity in diversity.
There is another point that it is very important to clarify in this current of grace: those who guide. …. there is a great temptation for the leaders — I repeat, I prefer the term servants, those who serve — and this temptation for the servers comes from the devil, the temptation to believe they are indispensable, no matter what the task is. The devil leads them to believe they are the ones that command, who are at the center and thus, step by step, they slip into authoritarianism, into personalism and do not let the renewed Community live in the Spirit. This temptation is such as to make “eternal” the position of those who consider themselves irreplaceable, a position that always has some form of power or dominance over others. This is clear to us: the only irreplaceable one in the Church is the Holy Spirit, and Jesus is the only Lord.
Comment: Pope Francis prefers the term servants for those who serve as leaders. In 2007, in order to emphasize servant leadership, we changed our terminology for our leaders from “head” to “servant.” Since then, we have constantly emphasized the call to servant leadership (please refer to my book “Servant Leadership”).
This temptation, which is from the devil, makes one go from servant to boss, one seizes a Community, a group. This temptation also makes one slide into vanity. …. how many temptations lead to making a Community suffer and impede doing good, and become an organization as an NGO; and power leads us – excuse me but I will say it: how many leaders become vain persons? — power leads to vanity!
Comment: The unfortunate reality in Christian groups is that leaders often become the obstacles to God’s work. This is when they look to pride, power, position and perks.
Something else are the founders who received from the Holy Spirit the charism of foundation. Because they received it, they have the obligation to look after it, making it mature in their Communities and Associations. The founders remain as such for life, namely, they are the ones that inspire, that give inspiration, but let the thing go forward.
Comment: All authentic ecclesial movements raised by the Holy Spirit have human founders. They are keepers of the charism.
I ask you for your important contribution to be committed to share with all in the Church the Baptism you have received. You have lived this experience; share it in the Church. And this is the most important service – the most important that can be given to everyone in the Church. To help the People of God in their personal encounter with Jesus Christ, who changes us into new men and women, in little groups, humble but effective, because it is the Spirit that works.
Comment: It is indeed the intent of LCSC to share the experience of CFC-FFL in evangelization with the rest of the Church, for hopefully all parishes to take on the methodologies of evangelization that God has given us. Catholics need to meet Christ and enter into a deep, intimate, personal relationship.
There is another strong sign of the Spirit in Charismatic Renewal: the search for unity of the Body of Christ. …. We have all made these divisions in history, for so many reasons, but not good ones. But now, in fact, is the time in which the Spirit makes us think that these divisions are not on, that these divisions are a counter-testimony, and we must do everything to go together ….
Comment: Another intent of LCSC is to provide the thread (the LCS) that can bind all parish ministries and groups together, in the common work of massive evangelization up to the grassroots and peripheries.
Unity in working together for the poor and the needy, who are also in need of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. It would be very good to organize seminars of life in the Spirit, together with other Christian Charismatic realities, for brothers and sisters that live on the street ….
Comment: One of the pillars of LCSC is Live Full, which is our work with the poor, done through the No One in Need (NONe) movement. We do not just look to material or physical help for the poor, but to spiritual renewal through the Life in Christ Seminar (LCS) and its baptism in the Holy Spirit.
I remind you: Charismatic Renewal is a Pentecostal grace for the whole Church.
Comment: The spirituality of LCSC is the spirituality of Pentecost, which is intended for massive evangelization to the ends of the earth. LCSC intends to mainstream Catholic lay evangelization.
And with Bibles, with the Word of God, go, preach the novelty that Jesus has given us.
Comment: One of the pillars of LCSC is Live the Word, which uses the Liturgical Bible Study (LBS) method to get Catholics into the Bible.
Preach to the poor, to the marginalized, to the blind, to the sick, to the imprisoned, to all men and women.
Comment: LCSC looks to the very mission of Jesus, which is to bring glad tidings to the poor. LCSC intends to do massive evangelization in order to reach all lapsed Catholics, especially those in the peripheries.
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