Pope Francis has reminded a large group of charismatic Catholics never to lose the freedom given by the Holy Spirit through being administrators and “controllers” of God’s grace.
Speaking Sunday afternoon to 52,000 people from 55 countries gathered for the National Convocation of “Renewal in the Spirit” at Rome’s Olympic Stadium, the Pope answered questions posed to him by priests, young people, families, the sick and the elderly.
He called on the first among them to remain close to Christ and to his faithful, and warned the second not to keep their youth “locked away in a safe” but rather to “bet on great things”. He reminded families of their roles as a domestic church, and commented that the sick imitate Jesus in the difficult moments of life, and that the elderly are the wisdom and memory of the Church.
Finally, he prayed that God might grant to all the “holy intoxication of the Spirit, that enables us to speak many languages, the languages of charity, always close to those brothers and sisters who need us. Teach us not to fight between ourselves over a little more power, … teach us to increasingly love the Church that is our ‘team’, and to keep our hearts open to receive the Holy Spirit”.
The crowd applauded Pope Francis’ entry into stadium where he joined in with the chorus in Spanish of “Vive Jesus, el Senor”, a hymn that the bishop of Rome said he enjoyed greatly when he celebrated Mass in the cathedral of Buenos Aires with members of this movement. Two bodies for the coordination of Catholic Charismatic Renewal throughout the world: ICCRS (International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services) and CFCCCF (Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships).
In his address, he affirmed that Renewal in the Spirit is “a great force in the service of the proclamation of the Gospel in the joy of the Holy Spirit. … In the early times, it was said that you always carried a Bible with you, a New Testament. … If not, return to this first love, always carry the Word of God with you, in your pocket, in your bag!”
He urged them never to lose the freedom that the Holy Spirit gives us, warning them of the danger of “excessive organisation”. “Yes, you need organisation, but do not lose the grace of letting God be God!”. He also warned them of the danger of becoming “controllers” of God’s grace, administrators of race who decide who may receive the prayer of effusion or baptism in the Spirit, and who instead may not. “If any of you do this, I beg you, do not do this any more. You are dispensers of God’s grace, not controllers!”, he underlined.
“Evangelisation, spiritual ecumenism, attention to the poor and needy and welcome to the marginalised, and all on the basis of adoration; the foundation for renewal is adoring God”: thus Pope Francis defined the path of Renewal in the Spirit, to explain the future direction he hoped they would take.
“First of all”, he said, “conversion to the love of Jesus, that changes life and makes a Christian a witness to God’s love. I hope that you will share with all in the Church the grace of Baptism in the Holy Spirit. I expect from you an evangelisation with the Word of God that proclaims that Jesus lives and loves all humankind. May you give witness of spiritual ecumenism with all those brothers and sisters of other Churches and Christian communities who believe in Jesus as the Lord and Saviour. May you remain united in the love that the Lord Jesus asks of all for all mankind, and in prayer to the Holy Spirit to reach this unity, necessary for evangelisation in the name of Jesus. Be close to the poor and needy to touch in their flesh the wounded flesh of Jesus. Seek unity in Renewal because unity comes from the Holy Spirit and is born of the unity of the Trinity. Where does division come from? The devil! Division comes from the devil. Flee from internal struggles, please!”.
In conclusion, Francis called upon them to “Go forth onto the streets and evangelise, proclaim the Gospel. Remember that the Church was born to go forth, that morning of Pentecost. … Let yourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit, with that same freedom. And please, do not cage the Holy Spirit! With freedom!”.