ROCCA DI PAPA, Italy, JUNE 2, 2006 (Zenit.org).- A common experience of Christ is at the foundation for new movements and communities, say representatives of ecclesial entities.
This was the conclusion of a round-table discussion that took place as part of the 2nd World Congress of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities, being held in Rocca di Papa, near Rome.
The initiative, organized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, has gathered 300 representatives of some 100 ecclesial realities who will meet with Benedict XVI this Saturday, the vigil of Pentecost.
The discussion was introduced by Matteo Calisi, president of Catholic Fraternity International, who said that the movements and new communities, “extraordinary gifts of the Spirit,” are “an answer to secularism and the spiritual necrosis of our time,” enabling “many persons to rediscover the delight of faith.”
Alba Sgariglia, of the Focolare Movement, quoting Benedict XVI’s encyclical, “Deus Caritas Est,” recounted the experience of faith of the movement founded by Chiara Lubich: “A journey of faith, of personal and community formation, which has taught us to discover always and everywhere the love of God for us, norm that should conform our behavior.”
“The objective of our educational journey is to be love, to be Jesus, to take his way of thinking, acting and loving” to the world, she said. “If we live this way, we transform the world.”
Kiko Argüello, founder of the Neocatechumenal Way, said that in some countries, such as France and Germany, statistics show that there are increasingly more people that have no relationship with the Church.
“Beauty will save the world,” he said, quoting Fyodor Dostoyevsky, “but we must commit ourselves to present to the world the beauty that Christ is. In the neighborhoods of our cities, where can ordinary people meet Christ?”
Noting the numerous occasions of collaboration between movements in this evangelizing action, Argüello confirmed the responsibility that every Christian has to give everyone the possibility to meet Christ.
Argüello said that what impresses most is “the beauty of being together, the friendship that shows the love of Christ.” In this way, he added, we can “propose to all a journey of formation in the faith which will make possible the discovery of this love that has changed our lives.”
Giancarlo Cesana, of Communion and Liberation, said that its founder, Monsignor Luigi Giussani, focused on showing that the beauty of Christ is the evidence of truth and goodness.
“The problem of God is not a moral problem, but an intense need, such as hunger or thirst,” Cesana said.
He highlighted two concepts: “friendship” with Christ and with others, as “experience of a love lived in the first person,” which makes self-discovery possible and unites others; and the “desire,” “by which man, in everything he does desires all, the infinite.”
Patty Mansfield, of Catholic Charismatic Renewal, recalled the beginnings of this faith experience that million of Christians worldwide have lived.
“I am not a founder,” she said, “but a witness of a grace that is not our property, … that is given and renewed every day by the Spirit.”
Recounting the experience of prayer that took place in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1970, at a meeting in which Catholic Charismatic Renewal began, Mansfield said: “I trusted God unconditionally and said to myself in those days, if this could happen to an ordinary person, like me, it could happen to everyone.”
Father Laurent Fabre, who founded Chemin Neuf (New Way) in Lyon, France, in 1973, in a Charismatic Renewal prayer group, said that the experiences discussed have a profound connection with the Second Vatican Council.
Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche Communities, said: “For us it is not a question of doing generous and good things, but of being friends. It is not a problem of generosity, of giving what we can spare, but of finding people who have a heart.
“It is not about idealizing the poor, but about discovering our poverty when we meet with them, discovering our need of Christ on meeting the need of any person, regardless of creed or origin.”