The communion of holy persons who grow through participation in spiritual goods, and above all the Sacraments, the charisms and charity, was the theme of Pope Francis’ catechesis during today’s general audience.
In the Sacraments, each one of us is “incorporated in Christ and united with the entire community of believers. Therefore, if one the one hand there is the Church who ‘makes’ the Sacraments, on the other there are the Sacraments which ‘make’ the Church, edifying her, generating new sons, and joining them to the holy people of God”. Furthermore, “the Sacraments offer us the impetus to become missionaries, and the apostolic commitment to taking the faith to all places, even the most hostile, is the most authentic fruit of a steadfast sacramental life, inasmuch as it constitutes participation in God’s salvific plan, which aims at bringing salvation to all”.
The second aspect of communion in holy things is the communion of charisms. “The Holy Spirit dispenses a multitude of gifts and spiritual graces to the faithful … for the edification of the Church”, explained the Pope. “Therefore, they are not given for the benefit of the recipient, but for use by the people of God. … The charisms are particular graces, given to some for the good of many others”, and “they are born in the conscience and experience of certain persons, called to put their gifts at the service of the community. In particular, these spiritual gifts are are of benefit to the sanctity of the Church and her mission”.
Charity is the third aspect of this communion with spiritual goods. “The charisms are important in the life of the Christian community, but they are always means of growing in charity, which St. Paul places above the charisms. Without love”, Pope Francis emphasised, “even the most extraordinary gifts are in vain, while the smallest of our gestures of love brings good to all. … This brotherly solidarity is not a rhetorical figure, a figure of speech, but rather an integral part of communion between Christians. If we live this solidarity, we are a sign to the world, a ‘sacrament’ of God’s love”.
“This is not that easy charity that we offer between ourselves, but instead something deeper: it is a communion that makes us able to enter into the joy and the pain of others in order to sincerely make them our own. And often we are too arid, indifferent and detached, and instead of transmitting brotherliness, we transmit ill-humour, coldness and selfishness. And with ill-humour, coldness and selfishness, one cannot help the Church to grow; the Church grows only with the love that comes from the Holy Spirit”.
“And I would now like to ask of you an act of charity”, said the Holy Father to the tens of thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square, and added jokingly, “Don’t worry! It’s not a collection! Before coming to the Square, I went to see a seriously ill child aged just one and a half. Her mother and father pray and implore the Lord to cure their daughter. She is called Noemi and she smiled, poor girl. Let us carry out an act of love; we do not know her but she is a baptized child, she is one of us, a Christian. Let us ask the Lord to help her in this moment and to give her health: first in silence, and then let us pray the Hail Mary”.
Silence fell over the square for a moment, after which the Pope said, “And now let us pray together to the Virgin for the health of Noemi. … Thank you for this act of charity”, he concluded, after more than fifty thousand people recited the Hail Mary in unison.