Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis met with the participants in the III World Congress of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities currently underway in Rome under the guidance of the Pontifical Council for the Laity on the theme "The Joy of the Gospel: a missionary joy".
In his address, he made a number of suggestions, such as preserving "the freshness of charisma," respecting people's freedom during their education and always seeking Communion, whilst remembering that to achieve this goal, "conversion must be missionary," which means that "the strength to overcome temptations and insufficiencies comes from the profound joy of proclaiming the Gospel".
The first "suggestion", preserving the freshness of your charism, means renewing the "first love", the pope said. "As time goes by, there is a greater temptation to become comfortable, to become hardened in set ways of doing things, which, while reassuring, are nonetheless sterile. However, "realities are more important than ideas" (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 231-233); even if a certain institutionalization of the charism is necessary for its survival, we ought not delude ourselves into thinking that external structures can guarantee the working of the Holy Spirit. The newness of your experiences does not consist in methods or forms, which are important, but rather in your willingness to respond with renewed enthusiasm to the Lord's call. Such evangelical courage has allowed for the growth of your Movements and New Communities. If forms and methods become ends in themselves, they become ideological, removed from reality, which is constantly developing; closed to the newness of the Spirit, such rigid forms and methods will eventually stifle the very charism which gave them life. We need always to return to the sources of our charism, and thus to rediscover the driving force needed to respond to today's challenges."
"A further issue concerns the way of welcoming and accompanying men and women of today, in particular, the youth (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 105-106). We are part of a wounded humanity in which all of the educational institutions, especially the most important one - the family - are experiencing grave difficulties almost everywhere in the world. Men and women today experience serious identity problems and have difficulty making proper choices; as a result, they tend to be conditioned and to delegate important decisions about their own lives to others. We need to resist the temptation of usurping individual freedom, of directing them without allowing for their growth in genuine maturity. Moral or spiritual progress which manipulates a person's immaturity is only an apparent success, and one destined to fail. Christian education instead requires a patient accompaniment, which is capable of waiting for the right moment for each person, as the Lord does with each one of us. Patience is the only way to love truly and to lead others into a sincere relationship with the Lord."
"One other consideration we must never forget is that the most precious good, the seal of the Holy Spirit, is communion. [. . .] For the world to believe that Jesus is Lord, it needs to see communion among Christians. If, on the other hand, the world sees divisions, rivalries and backbiting, regardless of the cause, how can we evangelize? Remember this further principle: "Unity prevails over conflict" (Evangelii Gaudium, 226-230), because our brothers and sisters are always of greater value than our personal attitudes; indeed, it is for our brothers and sisters that Christ has shed his blood (1 Pet 1:18-19). In addition, real communion cannot exist in Movements or in New Communities unless these are integrated within the greater communion of our Holy Mother, the hierarchical Church. 'The whole is greater than the part' (cf Evangelii Gaudium, 234-237), and the part only has meaning in relation to the whole. Communion also consists in confronting together and in a united fashion the most pressing questions of our day, such as life, the family, peace, the fight against poverty in all its forms, religious freedom and education. In particular, New Movements and Communities are called to coordinate their efforts in caring for those wounded by a globalized mentality which places consumption at the centre, neglecting God and those values which are essential for life."
"In order to attain ecclesial maturity, therefore, maintain the freshness of your charism, respect the freedom of each person, and always strive for communion. Do not forget, however, that to reach this goal, conversion must be missionary: the strength to overcome temptations and insufficiencies comes from the profound joy of proclaiming the Gospel, which is the foundation of your charisms. In fact, 'when the Church summons Christians to take up the task of evangelization, she is simply pointing to the source of authentic personal fulfilment (Evangelii Gaudium, 10), the true motivation for renewal of one's own life, since all mission is a sharing in the mission of Christ who precedes and accompanies us in the work of evangelization."