Visit to the parish of San Cipriano 1-22-1989
St. John Paul II
Rome, January 22, 1989
The Neocatechumenal Way, opened in 1981, is the strongest religious experience among those that, at this time, are taking place in the parish of San Cipriano. To the members of the five communities, with about five hundred brothers, the Pope dedicated the last meeting of his intense visit to it. “”Your Holiness, after your Mass in the parish a new catechesis will begin,” Claudia, initiator of the Camino in San Cipriano, announced.
We hope that this coming of Peter among us will move many people to want to know Jesus Christ. As it says in this leaflet, Father, we were blind, lame, far away. I was far away from the Church. In this Church we have come to know, as the Word of today says, freedom for all the prisoners of anguish, of fear, of death. We were blind in that we did not see the love of God in our lives. We thank peter who has come today to confirm us in our faith.”
“I began this way in 1971 when I was in the parish of St Eugene. It was a time of great crisis because I thought of myself as a very good priest, very intelligent, successful. And I was proud, presumptuous. l see it clearly now but then it was as though I was blind. I found myself in a situation of great crisis, of great depression.
And this Way appeared, this movement, these catecheses, which came to make me able to abandon myself again to God, to re-awaken in me the confidence that God loves me, as I am. Despite my weakness and my sins, this love opened my eyes and made me see the signs of God’s love for me. And this began to change my life and give me peace. Then I had to leave that parish to come here. I found a bigger parish, when I was getting older, was already old, but even staying here is something that I do day by day with joy, with happiness. I have to say that in this Way you really do discover the joy of being with the Lord. I’ve also seen something else in all these years: how this way of preaching the Gospel attracts the people who are far away and brings them close to God.”
Much struck by these testimonies, the Holy Father addressed these words to the communities: This word that I used as word of life for the Marian Year and for the encyclical Redemptoris Mater is always in my mind. I repeat this word addressed to Mary: ‘Blessed are you because you believed in the Lord’, because without a doubt it is central in the way of the Virgin. I organized all the Marian encyclical around this word. In this way it can be of use to the Church and perhaps also for our separated brothers, because Mary goes before us in the way of faith. When I meet you I always have a moment of surprise because so many of you say that you come from another shore where the Christian life is not led, indeed where God is denied, and where there is a search for another program of personal and social life. And then they found this Way.
They set off along this road and they say, ‘We have found joy, we have found peace.‘ Dear ones, you are walking within this parish. You walk in the contemporary world, this world of the daily routine, very rich and opulent, enjoying progress and secure of itself because of its riches and inventions. You walk in this world where at the same time it is difficult to walk. I think that the special charism of this movement, of this Way, is precisely that of walking with our contemporaries, with these people who are rich and poor at the same time. It is to go among them and to bring the testimony of another way, another life, another perspective. This is the way of Mary, the way of faith. You walk with her along the same way.
Think always that you are walking with Mary, who walks with everyone because she is Mother. She walks with the Church, with Christianity, with the Christians who find it difficult to be united in a world divided between East and West, North and South, rich and poor. Your charism is that of Mary: to walk in faith and in faith to bear witness to everyone, the witness to another possibility, to another kind of self- fulfillment. Man tries to find fulfillment and does not succeed. You need to witness to this man to the fulfillment that Mary found in Christ. He is the true self-fulfillment of man. Because he says, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, the Life’.
I hope that you will go on in this parish, in this vocation and in this Way.”