By Pope Francis
“You are dispensers of the grace of God, not controllers! Don’t be a customs office to the Holy Spirit!”
At 5 o’clock today June 1, the Holy Father went to Rome’s Olympic Stadium to meet with the participants in the 37th National Convention of Renewal in the Holy Spirit (Rome, June 1-2, 2014). The event was organized by Renewal in the Spirit in collaboration with ICCRS (International Charismatic Catholic Renewal Services) and CFCCCF (Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowship).
Several testimonies were presented to the Pope in the course of the meeting, which he commented on individually, before his address to those present.
Following is a translation of Pope Francis’ words in response to the different testimonies and his final address.
* * *
WORDS OF THE HOLY FATHER
To you priests, I wish to say one word: closeness — closeness to Jesus Christ in prayer and adoration. Closeness to the Lord and closeness to the people, to the people of God entrusted to you. Love your people, be close to the people. This is what I ask of you, this twofold closeness: closeness to Jesus and closeness to the people.
To Young People:
It would be sad if a young person kept his youth in a strongbox: such youth becomes old in the worse sense of the word. It turns into a wreck, is good for nothing. Youth is to be risked: to risk it well, to risk it with hope. It is to wager on great things. Youth is to be given, so that others will know the Lord. Do not save your youth for yourselves: go forward!
Families are the domestic Church, where Jesus grows, grows in the love of spouses; grows in the life of the children. It is because of this that the Enemy so attacks the family: the devil does not want it! And he seeks to destroy it; he acts so that love will not exist there. Families are this domestic Church. Spouses are sinners, as everyone is, but they wish to go forward in the faith, in their fruitfulness, in the children and in the faith of the children. May the Lord bless the family, may he make it strong in this crisis in which the devil wants to destroy it.
To the Disabled:
Brothers and sisters who suffer, who have an illness, who are disabled, are brothers and sisters anointed by the suffering of Jesus Christ; they imitate Jesus in the difficult moment of their cross, of their life. This anointing of their suffering they carry forward for the whole Church. Thank you so much, brothers and sisters; thank you so much for you acceptance and for being anointed by suffering. Thank you so much for the hope that you witness, that hope that leads us forward seeking Jesus’ caress.
To the Elderly:
I said to Salvatore that perhaps someone is missing, perhaps the most important: grandparents are missing! The elderly are missing, and they, the “old,” are the assurance of our faith. Look, when Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple there were two elderly there; and four if not five times – I do not remember well – the Gospel says that they “were led by the Holy Spirit.” Instead, of Mary and Joseph it says that they were led by the Law. Young people must comply with the Law; the elderly – as good wine – have the freedom of the Holy Spirit. And so this Simeon, who was courageous, invented a “liturgy,” and praised God, he praised … and it was the Spirit that pushed him to do this. The elderly! They are our wisdom, they are the wisdom of the Church; the elderly whom we so often discard, the grandparents, the elderly … And that little grandmother, Anna, did an extraordinary thing in the Church: she canonized gossip! And how did she do it? In this way: because instead of gossiping against someone, she went from one place to the other saying [of Jesus]: “It is he; he it is who will save us!” And this is a good thing. Grandmothers and grandfathers are our strength and our wisdom. May the Lord always give us wise elderly people! — elderly who give us the memory of our people, the memory of the Church. And may they give us also what the Letter to the Hebrews says of them: the sense of joy. It says that the elderly greeted the promises from afar: may they teach us this.
Prayer of the Pope:
Lord, take care of your people in expectation of the Holy Spirit. Take care of young people, take care of families, take care of children, take care of the sick, take care of priests, consecrated men and women, take care of us Bishops, take care of all. And grant us that holy intoxication, that of the Spirit, that which makes us speak all languages, the languages of charity, always close to brothers and sisters who need us. Teach us not to fight among ourselves to have an extra bit of power; teach us to be humble; teach us to love the Church more than our party, than our internal “quarrels”; teach us to have an open heart to receive the Spirit. Send your Spirit, o Lord, upon us! Amen
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
THE HOLY FATHER’S ADDRESS
Dear brothers and sisters!
I thank you so much for your welcome. No doubt someone told the organizers that I very much like this song, “The Lord Jesus Lives” … When I celebrated holy Mass in Buenos Aires with the Charismatic Renewal, after the consecration and after a few seconds of adoration in tongues, we sang this song with so much joy and force, as you did today. Thank you! I felt at home!
I thank Renewal in the Spirit, the ICCRS and the Catholic Fraternity for this meeting with you, which gives me so much joy. I am grateful also for the presence of the first who had an intense experience of the power of the Holy Spirit; I believe that it was Patty, here … You, Charismatic Renewal, have received a great gift from the Lord. You were born of the will of the Spirit as “a current of grace in the Church and for the Church.” This is your definition: a current of grace.
What is the first gift of the Holy Spirit? The gift of Himself, who is love and makes you enamored of Jesus. And this love changes life. Because of this it is said: “to be born again to life in the Spirit.” Jesus said it to Nicodemus. You have received the great gift of the diversity of charisms, diversity that leads to the harmony of the Holy Spirit, to the service of the Church.
When I think of you Charismatics, the image of the Church herself comes to me, but in a particular way: I think of a great orchestra, where every instrument is different from another and the voices are also different, but all are necessary for the harmony of the music. Saint Paul says it in chapter XII of the First Letter to the Corinthians. Therefore, as in an orchestra, no one in the Renewal can think of being more important or greater than another, please! No one can say: “I’m the head.” You, as the whole Church, have only one head, only one Lord: the Lord Jesus. Repeat with me: who is the head of the Renewal? The Lord Jesus! Who is the head of the Renewal? [those present]: the Lord Jesus! And we can say this with the strength that the Holy Spirit has given us, because no one can say “Jesus is the Lord” without the Holy Spirit.
As you perhaps know – because news spreads – in the first years of the Charismatic Renewal I did not like Charismatics much. And I said of them: “They seem like a school of samba!” I did not share their way of praying and the many new things that were happening in the Church. Afterwards, I began to know them and in the end I understood the good that Charismatic Renewal does to the Church. And this story, which goes from the “school of samba” forward, ends in a particular way: a few months before taking part in the Conclave, I was appointed by the Episcopal Conference spiritual assistant of Charismatic Renewal in Argentina.
Charismatic Renewal is a great force at the service of the proclamation of the Gospel, in the joy of the Holy Spirit. You received the Holy Spirit that made you discover the love of God for all his children and love of the Word. In the early times it was said that you Charismatics always carried the Bible with you, the New Testament … Do you still do it today? [the crowd]: Yes?! I’m not so sure. If not, return to this first love; always carry in your pocket, in your bag the Word of God! And read a little piece — always with the Word of God.
You, people of God, people of the Charismatic Renewal, be careful not to lose the freedom that the Holy Spirit has given you. The danger for the Renewal, as our dear Father Raniero Cantalamessa often says, is that of excessive organization: the danger of excessive organization.
Yes, you need organization, but do not lose the grace of letting God be God! “However, there is no greater freedom than that of letting oneself be carried by the Spirit, refusing to calculate and to control everything, and allow Him to illuminate you, lead you, guide you, and push you where He wishes. He knows well what the need is in every age and moment. This calls to be mysteriously fruitful!” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 280).
Another danger is that of becoming “controllers” of God’s grace. So often the leaders (I prefer the name “servants”) of some group or some community become, perhaps without wanting it, administrators of grace, deciding who can receive the prayer of the effusion or Baptism in the Spirit and who, instead, cannot. If some do so, I beg you not to do so anymore, don’t do it anymore” You are dispensers of the grace of God, not controllers! Don’t be a customs office to the Holy Spirit!
You have a guide in the Documents of Malines, a sure course not to mistake the way. The first document is: Theological and Pastoral Guideline. The second is: Charismatic Renewal and Ecumenism, written by Cardinal Suenens himself, great protagonist of Vatican Council II. The third is: Charismatic Renewal and Service to Man, written by Cardinal Suenens and Bishop Helder Camara.
This is your task: evangelization, spiritual ecumenism, care of the poor and needy and hospitality for the marginalized. And all this on the basis of adoration! The foundation of the renewal is to adore God!
I have been asked to tell the Renewal what the Pope expects from you.
The first thing is conversion to the love of Jesus, which changes life and makes of the Christian a witness of the Love of God. The Church expects this witness of Christian life and the Holy Spirit helps us to live the coherence of the Gospel for our holiness.
I expect from you that you share with all, in the Church, the grace of Baptism in the Holy Spirit (expression that is read in the Acts of the Apostles).
I expect from you an evangelization with the Word of God which proclaims that Jesus is alive and loves all men.
I expect that you give witness of spiritual ecumenism with all those brothers and sisters of other Churches and Christian communities who believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
That you remain united in the love that the Lord Jesus asks of us for all men, and in the prayer to the Holy Spirit to come to this unity, necessary for evangelization in the name of Jesus. Remember that “the Charismatic Renewal is by its very nature ecumenical … Catholic Renewal rejoices over what the Holy Spirit carries out in the other Churches” (1 Malines 5, 3).
Be close to the poor, the needy, to touch in their flesh the flesh of Jesus. Be close, please!
Seek unity in the Renewal, because unity comes from the Holy Spirit and is born of the unity of the Trinity. From whom does division come? From the devil! Divison comes from the devil. Flee from internal fights, please! They must not exist among us!
I want to thank the ICCRS and the Catholic Fraternity, the two organizations of Pontifical Right of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, at the service of global Renewal; be committed to preparing the world meeting for priests and Bishops, which will be held in June of next year. I know that you have also decided to share the office and to work together as a sign of unity and to manage the resources better. I rejoice greatly. I also want to thank you because you are already organizing the Great Jubilee of 2017.
Brothers and sisters, remember: adore the Lord God: this is the foundation! To adore God. Seek sanctity in the new life of the Holy Spirit. Be dispensers of the grace of God. Avoid the danger of excessive organization.
Go out into the streets to evangelize, proclaiming the Gospel. Remember that the Church was born “in going forth” that Pentecost morning. Be close to the poor and touch in their flesh the wounded flesh of Jesus. Let yourselves by led by the Holy Spirit, with that freedom and, please, do not cage the Holy Spirit! With liberty!
Seek the unity of the Renewal, unity that comes from the Trinity!
And I await you all, Charismatics of the world, to celebrate, together with the Pope, your Great Jubilee in Pentecost of 2017, in Saint Peter’s Square! Thank you!