· Vatican City ·

To members of the National Council of Renewal in the Holy Spirit

Prayer, evangelization and witness in communion

 Prayer, evangelization and witness  in communion  ING-004
26 January 2024

On Saturday, 20 January, Pope Francis received in audience members of the Italian Council of Renewal in the Holy Spirit. The following is a translation of the Holy Father’s address to them, which he delivered in Italian in the Consistory Hall.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Good morning!

I welcome you, President and members of the National Council of Renewal in the Holy Spirit. And through you, I greet all those who belong to this ecclesial movement.

As you know, in these years I have promoted charis as a body of international service for Catholic Charismatic Renewal. And recently too, last November, I was able to speak to participants in the meeting organized by charis. I encourage you to continue to journey on this path of communion, and to treasure the suggestions I have given you.

Today I would like to share with you, who attend to the movement at the national level, a pastoral outlook on your presence and your service. First of all, I thank the Lord and I thank you for the good that the Renewal communities sow among the holy faithful people of God, also by promoting a simple and joyful spirituality. And I emphasize above all two important aspects: service to prayer, especially  adoration; and service to  evangelization. Prayer and evangelization.

By its very nature, the charismatic movement gives space and emphasis to prayer, in particular to prayer of praise, and this is very important. In a world dominated by a culture of having and efficiency, and in a Church that is sometimes too concerned with organization — beware of this! — we all need to make room for thanksgiving, for praise and for wonder at God’s grace. I ask you, brothers and sisters, to continue to serve the Church in this, especially by promoting the prayer of adoration. An adoration in which silence is predominant, in which the Word of God prevails over our words; in short, an adoration in which he, the Lord, is at the centre, not ourselves.

This is the first aspect for which I thank you and encourage you: that of prayer. The second is that of evangelization, which also belongs, so to speak, to the dna of the charismatic movement. The Holy Spirit, welcomed in the heart and in life, cannot but open us, move us, make us go outwards: the Spirit always urges us to communicate the Gospel, to go out, and he does so with his inexhaustible imagination. What we have to do is be docile and collaborate with him, as the Acts of the Apostles tell us of Stephen, Philip, Barnabas, Peter, Paul and the others. They did not have a manual for how to proceed: it was the Spirit that moved them and they did many great things. And always remember that the first proclamation is made through the witness of life! What use are long prayers and many beautiful hymns, if I do not know how to be patient with my neighbour, if I do not know how to be close to my mother who is alone? It is the fourth commandment: I am scandalized by men and women who do not go to visit their parents in retirement homes — or that person in difficulty… Real charity, hidden service, is always the proof of our proclamation: words, gestures and canticles, without the substance of charity, will not do.

Prayer and evangelization. But if you came to the Pope, it is not only to be confirmed in these two paths that belong to your charism and your history. The Successor of Peter also has a charism, which is that of communion, and on this in particular he can and must confirm you. Communion first and foremost with your bishops. As you well know, in any particular Church, ecclesial movements must always look for effective communion. And what does this mean? It means that the Renewal community must be at the service of the entire diocesan community, the entire parish community, in accordance with the bishop’s pastoral indications. Communion also with the other ecclesial realities, associations, movements, groups: bearing witness to fraternity, mutual respect in diversity, collaboration in commitment to joint initiatives, service to the people of God and also in relation to social questions in which the dignity of people is at stake. I thank you for the efforts you have already made in this sense, and I urge you to be builders of communion, first of all among yourselves: beware of gossip. Communion among yourselves, this is very important; and also, communion within your movement, and then in the parishes and dioceses.

Dear brothers and sisters, thank you for coming. Go forward with joy. May Our Lady keep you and may she always be in your midst as she was among the first disciples in the Upper Room (cf. Acts 1:14). I have had a “special history” with you, because I did not like the movement at first. I said it was a samba school, not an ecclesial movement. Later, as Archbishop, I saw how it worked, how it filled the cathedral during meetings, and I began to have great appreciation for you. Go forward, but not as a samba school, as an ecclesial movement! I bless you and your service from my heart. And I ask you to please pray for me. Pray with your body, with everything, for me.