Monday, June 05, 2006

Words from Movement Weekend

Great shot, eh?

Anyways, the website of the Pontifical Council for the Laity has posted translated texts of most of the interventions from this past weekend's meeting of the new ecclesial movements.

Saturday night's extensive message given by Benedict XVI, however, remains available only in its original Italian. Don't be surprised if some sort of translation battle is going on behind the scenes. Again.

In the meantime, there are some other addresses of note from the Saturday event. The first is from the secretary of the Council, Bishop Josef Clemens. As Clemens more than ably assisted Cardinal Ratzinger for two decades as his private secretary, few know the Pope's mind better and, for that matter, few (if any) speak the Benedict's mind more credibly.

A snip:
In the meditations from the Roman triptych by John Paul II (2203) we find in the second poem entitled “The source”, the following words:
“If you want to find the source, you have to go up, against the current”

In this Pentecost vigil, we have come to “confess” here publically in Saint Peter’s Square, in all humility and simplicity yet with frankness and sincerity, that over the past few years we have tried to go up and that many times we have gone against the current. However, we have found the source of living water that satisfies the inexhaustible desire of our hearts, our thirst for truth, for beauty, for happiness.

The source spoken of here is not a theory, nor is it a philosophy or a simple abstract response. It is a Person. Pope Benedict XVI says in this regard in the encyclical Deus caritas est: “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction”2.

For this reason, the main purpose of our meeting is gratitude for the multiple gifts received that have helped us to find the source, the living presence of Jesus, “the fairest of the sons of men” (Ps 45:2). The prayer of Vespers is a privileged moment to give thanks to God for his goodness and for the marvels he has done for us (“Magnalia Dei”) in the work of the Redemption. We wish to express our deepest gratitude to the Holy Spirit Creator. We also wish to give thanks for those people who were “touched by God”. With their testimony of a life lived in faith, they have gone before us to blaze a trail, and they accompany us on our personal paths towards friendship with the Son of God which gives us life and true freedom....

In this celebration each one of us has the opportunity to examine our conscience. How have we responded to these three assignments given to us by a true father who loves us very much? We can ask ourselves: how have we opened ourselves to the Holy Spirit? Have we accepted his charisms? Have we kept in mind the common good of the entire Church? We can ask ourselves as a “community of faith” on a new stage on the path of “ecclesial maturity” opened up by Pope John Paul II eight years ago.
It's not rocket science to figure out that when one of the Pope's closest confidants is asking the movements if they have "kept in mind the common good of the entire Church?" to their face, it's not a rhetorical question.

Going on, there's the address of Andrea Riccardi, head of the Sant'Egidio community. You may remember that, on the day of its release, Riccardi wrote the front-page take on Deus caritas est for the official Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.
Human lives do not roll by forgotten, only under the indifferent gaze of people. Psalm 11 says, “his gaze scrutinises the children of Adam”. God is not distracted or indifferent. His eyes tear indifference. Jesus often looks at men and women in their sorrow, even at Peter, after he denies him. The Supreme stoops to look down. This does not leave the lives of men and women the same as they were. The Psalm sings to this with two small, but effective pictures: the poor and the barren woman.

The poor. Whoever knows the peripheries of the world has often seen the dunghills where children often play; they have walked on dusty roads. I am thinking of Africa. But I also have in mind the poor whose home is a dunghill; abandoned elderly men and women, people living in prison. This is what quite a part of the world is. But people do not see, nor do they stoop down. However, God is not indifferent: “He raises the poor from the dust, he lifts the needy from the dunghill, to give them a place among princes, among princes of his people”. Lifted up, the poor are seated with dignity among princes. If these do not consider the poor, they may become an assembly of evil people.

It is a world overturned by love. It happens: we have seen it. It is not a utopia. It is born from that patient and tenacious love that God outpoured in our hearts. God listens to the plea of the poor: “For you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat…” (Is 25,4).

The barren woman. We are not condemned to the barren life of living for ourselves. The barren woman of the Psalm reminds us of other barren lives: women of the Bible, but also many men and women of our times, rich in resources, but incapable of giving life. There is a world of rich and barren people. The Lord looks down on them, as well: “Yahweh looks down from heaven at the children of Adam” (Ps 14,2). He stoops to look down at us. We see it in Jesus: “In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them” (Is 63,9). We celebrated it during Easter.

Today we sing to the fecundity of life in the Spirit: “He lets the barren woman be seated at home, the happy mother of sons”. It is true for many rich and barren people. It is the joy of this evening, of us rich and barren people, made humble and fecund fathers of sons in this beautiful house, wall-less but so brotherly and so intimate nevertheless.

Communities and Movements, we are barren people who have received a fecund charisma thanks to God, who stoops to look down. Now we live and rejoice within the Church, with children, with you, Holy Father, with the Bishops, with you all. In addition to those who are present, there are others on this square here tonight: it is an immense people of “poor and humble people” – Zephaniah says (3,12); there are many poor people lifted by the love of the humble people we are.

This is the special covenant of the poor and the humble, which lives within the Church as a fruit of the Spirit. It celebrates what you, Holy Father, wrote in the Encyclical: “Love of God and love of neighbour are now truly united”.
As two of the three reflections given in between the recitation of the Psalms of the First Vespers of Pentecost were given by Riccardi and Kiko Arguello, the founder of the Neocatechumenal Way, you might say that lay preaching has been given a papal boost.

And, of course, there's the talk of Don Julian Carron, Don Gius' successor as head of the Comunione e Liberazione -- the movement which, by his own admission, changed Joseph Ratzinger's life.
“The true protagonist of history is the beggar: Christ who begs for man’s heart, and man’s heart that begs for Christ.” With these words, eight years ago, Fr. Giussani concluded his address here in St Peter’s Square, kneeling before John Paul II. Today we come back as beggars, even more desirous of Christ, astonished at how Christ has continued begging for our heart.

t is the immensity of His love that shines out in His works and makes it easy to recognize the Lord; as it was for the people of Israel, who before God’s mighty hand, “feared the Lord and believed in him” (Ex14:31). All that is needed is for our freedom to give in and, as Your Holiness wonderfully reminded us in your encyclical, let ourselves be drawn by Christ into the “dynamic of his self-giving” to us (Deus caritas est, n. 13). In the person of Christ, this giving reaches an “unprecedented realism” (n. 12) God incarnate becomes so overwhelmingly attractive that he “draws us all to himself.” (n.14). A person who meets Him finds Him so correspondent to his heart’s expectation, that he does not hesitate to exclaim before the manifestation of the beauty of His holiness: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” (Jn 6:68-69)

But, as Peter himself, many times we perceive, too, the whole drama of human freedom which, instead of opening us trustingly in astonished and grateful acknowledgment for the Lord present, can close itself up in the conceited pride of autonomy or in scepticism, to the point of despair, faced with one’s own impotence and the immensity of evil. But, as Your Holiness again reminded us in the encyclical, God’s holiness reveals itself as a passionate love for His people, for every man, and at the same time a forgiving love (Cf. Deus Caritas est n. 10). All man’s frailty, his betrayal, all the dreadful possibilities of history are traversed by that question put to Peter on the lake that morning, “Do you love me?” (Jn 21:17). Through this simple, definitive question, God’s unique holiness reveals in Christ its inconceivable and mysterious depth: God is mercy. In this, man, each one of us, is recreated in the truth of his original dependence, and freedom blossoms once more as humble, glad adhesion full of entreaty: “Yes, Lord, You know everything, You know that I love you” (Jn 21:17). In this free “yes” of the creature, in every circumstance of life, the glory of God echoes and is at work. «Gloria Dei vivens homo» (St. Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, IV,20,7)). The glory of God is man who is alive.
Enjoy the fulltexts.

Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi