On Friday, Pope Francis met with members of the Neocatechumenal Way at the Vatican’s Paul VI hall where he spoke to them about Christian solidarity, how to engage the world, and the ‘essential mission’ of the Church; Evangelization.
Addressing them, he told them that the Church is not “an organization that seeks followers” or a group that merely follows the logic of its ideas. Rather, the Church is “a mother who transmits the life received from Jesus.”
“The Church is our mother,” he emphasized. “After baptism we no longer live as isolated individuals, but we have become men and women of communion, and we are called to be operators of communion in the world. Because Jesus not only founded the Church for us, but he founded us as Church.”
Taking its inspiration from the catechumenate of the early Catholic Church, the Neocatechumenal Way is an organization within the Catholic Church dedicated to the Christian formation of adults. It provides post-baptismal formation to adults who are already members of the Church or to those far from the Church who have been attracted by the testimony of Christian life of love and unity in the communities as proposed in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).
It was founded in Madrid in 1964 by Francisco “Kiko” Argüello and Carmen Hernández. The movement claims to have a presence in 900 dioceses in 105 countries, with more than 20,000 communities in 6,000 parishes.
Below is the full text of Pope’s prepared remarks:
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
I’m glad to meet you and thank you for coming in such great numbers. I send a special greeting to those who are about to set off! You have accepted the call to evangelize: I bless the Lord for this, for the gift of the Way and for the gift of each of you. I would like to highlight three words that the Gospel has just handed you, as a mandate for the mission: unity, glory and world.
Unity. Jesus prays to the Father so that his (followers) be ” brought to perfection as one” (Jn 17:23): he wants them to be “one” (v. 22), like Himself and the Father. It is his last request before the passion, the most heartfelt: that there be communion in the Church. Communion is essential. God’s and man’s enemy, the devil, is no match for the Gospel, cannot compete against the humble power of prayer and the Sacraments, but can do much harm to the Church by tempting our humanity. The devil provokes pride, being judgmental of others, he causes closures and divisions. He himself is “the divider” and often starts off by making us believe that we are good, perhaps better than others: thus the land is ready for the sowing of discord. It is the temptation of all communities and can it can insinuate itself even in the most beautiful charism.
You have received a great charism for the baptismal renewal of life. Every charism is a grace of God to intensify communion. But this charism can deteriorate if you close in or if you boast about it, when you want to distinguish yourselves from the others. So we have to safeguard it. How? Following the main path: of humble and obedient unity. If there is this, the Holy Spirit continues to operate, just as it did in Mary, who was open, humble and obedient. It is always necessary to keep an eye on the charism, cleaning out the eventual human excesses through the search for unity with all and obedience to the Church. This is how to breathe in the Church and with the Church; this is how to stay docile children of the “Holy Mother Hierarchical Church” with a “soul which is prepared and ready” for the mission (cf. St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, 353).
I stress this point: the Church is our Mother. Just as children carry, imprinted in their faces, a similarity to their mother, we all look like our Mother, the Church. After Baptism we no longer live as isolated individuals, but we have become men and women of communion, and we are called to be operators of communion in the world. Because Jesus not only founded the Church for us, but he founded us as Church. From her we are born again, she feeds us the Bread of life, from her we receive words of life, and we are forgiven and accompanied home. This is the fruitfulness of the Church, who is Mother: not an organization that seeks followers, or a group that goes ahead following the logic of its ideas, but a mother who transmits the life received from Jesus.
This fruitfulness is expressed through the ministry and the guidance of Pastors. The institution is in fact a charisma, because rooted in the same source, which is the Holy Spirit. He is the living water, but the water can continue to give birth only if the plant is well maintained and pruned. Quench your thirst from the fountain, the Spirit, and take care, with delicacy and respect, of the whole ecclesial body, especially the most fragile parts, because all grow together, harmonious and fruitful.
The second word is: glory. Before his Passion, Jesus foretells that He will be “glorified” on the cross: there his glory will appear (cf. Jn 17, 5). But it is a new glory: worldly glory manifests itself when one is important, admired, when one has assets and success. But God’s glory is revealed on the cross: it is love shines out and is spread. It is a paradoxical glory with clamour, no gain and no applause. This is the only glory that makes the Gospel fruitful. The Mother Church too is fruitful when it imitates the merciful love of God, that offers itself, it never imposes itself. It is humble, it’s like the rain on the earth, like the air we breathe, like a small seed that bears fruit in silence. Whoever proclaims that love can do so only with the same loving approach.
And the third word is world. “God so loved the world” that He sent Jesus (cf. Jn 3:16). He who loves does not stay away, but comes towards. God is not attracted by worldliness, in fact, He detests it; but He loves the world he has created, and He loves His children in the world, just as they are, wherever they live, even if they are “far away.” Show the children the tender gaze of the Father and considered the realities you will encounter as a gift; become familiar with the cultures and the languages and respect local customs, recognizing the seeds of grace which the Spirit has already spread. Without yielding to the temptation to transplant acquired models, spread the news: “what is most beautiful, most grand, most appealing and at the same time most necessary” (Apost. Exhort. Evangelii Gaudium, 35). It is the good news that must always be in the forefront, otherwise faith risks becoming a cold and lifeless doctrine. To evangelize as families, experiencing unity and simplicity, is already a proclamation of life, a beautiful witness, for which I thank you so much. I accompany you and encourage you, and I ask you, please, do not forget to pray for me.