Below is a translation of the Pope’s address at this morning’s General Audience in St. Peter’s Square.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good Morning,
From the beginning, the Lord filled the Church with the gifts of His Spirit, thus rendering her always alive and fruitful. Distinguished among these gifts are some that are particularly precious for the building and journey of the Christian community: they are the charisms. In this catechesis, we want to ask ourselves: what, exactly, is a charism? How can we recognize it and receive it? And, above all, the fact that in the Church there is a diversity and multiplicity of charisms, is this seeing positively, as something good, or rather as a problem?
In ordinary language, when there is talk of a “charism,” it is often understood as a talent, as a natural ability. So, in face of a particularly brilliant and moving person, it is usually said: “He is a charismatic person.” In the Christian perspective, however, a charism is something more than a personal quality, a predisposition of which one might be gifted. A charism is a grace, a gift lavished by God the Father, through the action of the Holy Spirit. And it is a gift that is given to someone, not because he is better than others or because he merited it: it is a gift that God makes so that, with the same gratuitousness and the same love, he can put it at the service of the whole community, for the good of all.
Something important that must be stressed immediately is the fact that one cannot understand on one’s own if one has a charism, and which one. It is within the community that the gifts with which the Father fills us flow and flourish; and it is in the heart of the community that one learns to recognize them as a sign of His love for all His children. So, it is good that each one of us ask himself: “Is there some charism that the Lord has made arise in me, in the grace of His Spirit, and which my brothers in the Christian community have recognized and encouraged? And how do I conduct myself in regard to this gift: do I live it with generosity, putting at the service of all, or do I neglect it and end up by forgetting it? Perhaps it becomes in me a reason for pride, to the point of always lamenting others and of pretending that things be done my way in the community?”
The most beautiful experience, however, is to discover with how many different charisms and how many gifts of His Spirit the Father fills His Church! This must not be seen as a reason for confusion, for embarrassment: they are all gifts that God makes to the Christian community so that it can grow harmoniously in the faith and in His love, as one body, the Body of Christ. In face of this multiplicity of charisms, therefore, our heart must open to joy and we must think: “What a beautiful thing! So many different gifts, because we are all God’s children, and all loved in a unique way.” Woe, then, if these gifts become a reason for envy and division! As the Apostle Paul reminds us in his First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 12, all charisms are important in God’s eyes and, at the same time, no one is irreplaceable. This means that in the Christian community we are in need of one another, and every gift received is acted fully when it is shared with brothers, for the good of all. This is the Church! And when the Church expresses herself in communion, in the variety of charisms, she cannot err: it is the beauty and the strength of the sensus fidei, of that supernatural sense of the faith, which is given by the Holy Spirit so that, together, we can all enter in the heart of the Gospel and learn to follow Jesus in our life.
Dear friends, see what the Lord asks of us today: to recognize with joy and gratitude the different charisms that He distributes in the community, to put ourselves on the line for one another, according to the ministries and services to which we are called. In this way, the Church grows with the grace of her Lord and becomes in all times and places a credible sign and living testimony of the love of God.[Original Text: Italian]
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ITALIAN GREETING IN PAUL VI HALL
Dear friends, the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the Secular Institute of Little Apostles of Charity has given you the occasion to come to Rome to meet with the Successor of Peter. First of all I greet you with affection, dear children and youngsters, and I tell you that I am very happy to meet you. Thank you for your presence! I greet the Bishops and priests who accompany you, the General Directress and the Directors of the Association “Our Family,” which looks after you and your needs with such care. The Founder, Blessed Luigi Monza, intuited the need of closeness to disabled people, with competence and love. May his charism, supported by the Venerable Paul VI when he was Archbishop of Milan, be an example for the families and all those who have public responsibilities. I impart to you my heartfelt Blessing.[Original Text: Italian]
Summary of the Catechesis in English
Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis on the Church, we now turn to the manifold gifts of the Holy Spirit which enliven and enrich the Body of Christ. Among these gifts are charisms, the graces which the Spirit freely bestows upon the faithful for the benefit of the whole community. These gifts, while granted to individuals, are discovered and acknowledged within the wider ecclesial community. As a sign of God’s superabundant love for his children, they are rich and varied, yet each is meant to serve the building up of the Church as a communion of faith and love. The very diversity of the Spirit’s gifts invites us to share them generously for the good of all, and never to let them become a source of division. Today let us ask the Lord to help us recognize with gratitude this great outpouring of spiritual gifts which enables the Church to persevere in faith, to grow in grace and to be an ever more credible sign and witness of God’s infinite love. In a particular way, may each of us consider the special gifts he or she has received, and how we choose to use those gifts to advance the Church’s unity, life and mission in the world.
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, including the various groups from Australia, South Africa, Namibia, Japan, Taiwan, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, England, Scotland and the United States. In a particular way I greet the deacon ordinands of the Pontifical North American College, together with their families and friends. Upon all of you I invoke joy and peace in the lord Jesus. God bless you![Original Text: English]
To the Italian-speaking pilgrims
Dear Italian-speaking pilgrims: welcome! I am happy to receive the numerous pilgrims of the Opus Dei, accompanied by the Prelate, Monsignor Javier Echevarria, gathered here on the occasion of the Beatification of Monsignor Alvaro del Portillo, and I exhort them, on the example of the new Blessed, to always follow the goal of holiness in their state of life, with fidelity to Christ and to the Gospel. I greet the faithful of Aosta, with their Pastor, Monsignor Franco Lovignana and those of Belluno-Feltre, with their Bishop, Monsignor Giuseppe Andrich. I greet the priests of the International Pontifical Colleges Saint Paul and Mater Ecclesiae, inviting them to live their apostolate always in communion with the Church and with a missionary attitude.
Finally, a special thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Today is the liturgical Memoria of Saint Therese of Jesus, patroness of the missions. Dear young people, may her love of the Church be a teaching for your spiritual life; dear sick, may prayer be your instrument to face the most difficult moments; and you, dear newlyweds, found your conjugal home on mutual respect and fidelity.[Original Text: Italian] [Working Translation by ZENIT]