Visit to the parish of San Crispin de Viterbo 03-28-1993
St. John Paul II
Rome, May 28, 1993
John Paul II has met with thetwo Neocatechumenal Communities, fruit of 8 years of evangelization inthe parish of Saint Crispín. The welcoming words have been announced by a young man: Roberto Santoponte.
“Holy Father: Here are the two Neocatechumenal Communities resulting from 8 years of laborious evangelization in this parish of our team, coming from the fifth community of Sta. Francesca Cabrini in Rome,where we started the Way 14 years ago. The catechist teams of our community are those who carry out the pastoral care of Baptism and Marriage in this parish. In our home parish, this path of rediscovery of Baptism began 24 years ago, from which 25 communities have emerged. The first 2 have already renewed Baptismal Promises before His Holiness in St. Peter, and of them itinerants, priests and families who have catechized have left practically worldwide. In our community many had years and years away from the Church, and the wonder was to rediscover the solicitude and motherhood of this Church that came to resonate in our life, for many of us meaningless, the Good News of God’s love for each one of us, manifested in his Son Jesus Christ. In the course of these years, thanks to listening to the Word of God and participation in the liturgy, we have been spectators of the miracles that God has performed in our lives and in that of our brothers: vocations to the priesthood and to life consecrated; reconstructed marriages; open families to host generously life, rediscovered as an authentic and free gift of God.
I, although I was in the Church since i was a child, I had never experienced the grace of God’s love, especially towards sinners, as I have discovered myself to be. Finding God in the suffering and in the death events that have marked my life has been the event that has transformed my existence, and that of these catechist brothers together with me, and that has led us to give a little of our life for the Gospel, moved by a feeling of gratitudeto God the Father and aware that, as Saint Paul says, “the love of Christ urges us ”to make this Good News that has changed our life can reach all those who are waiting for it and they have the right to listen like we do. In this neighborhood there are many problems: drugs, marginalization, unemployment, poverty, violence and many young people have lost the deepest sense of their existence but we know that the only solution to these huge dramas, the only answer to the deepest needs of every man is Jesus Christ,dead for our sins and risen for our justification.These brothers today are the sign that this Word is true, that it is possible to love each other as Christ himself has loved us, through away of gestation to the faith, experiencing the own weakness, but,at the same time, savoring the love of God and the mercy of the Church, and our hope in the Lord is that they be “the firstborn of many brothers ”who will come after them. Thanks to your constancy and the support of the parish priest Don Vicente, who has never abandoned us in the most difficult moments, today it is open in this parish a way back to the Father for many of our distant brothers.
To the Virgin Mary, inspirer of this way, we trust our aspirations and our desires, and we hope From you, Holy Father, the support of your prayers and the encouragement to continue in the work undertaken, convinced that without the Spirit ofJesus Christ and communion with “Peter” we can do nothing. Deign accept, at the end of this meeting, this small tribute, a sign of our desire for union with you, who, like Christ, exhorts us to “cast the networks ”trusting only in his Word, sure that the fruit that it will sprout will be for the edification of the whole Church. It was significant the gift that a young woman offered to the Holy Father: a sculpture that represents Peter who casts the nets and looks at Jesus Christ: “We hope cast the nets to the East, it is the wish of all of us, although we are weak, poor and immature, but we would like to evangelize ”».
“Evangelize East and West, everywhere,” replied the Holy Father, who then delivered the following address:
” Your representative said that Don Vicente has never abandoned you.Let us thank the Lord that Don Vicente is so good, but neither have you abandoned Don Vicente, and this is important. It is important this communion with your parish priest, with the priest, and through the priest, with Christ. I have now spoken to the Pastoral Council of encouragement because it is true that this parish, as a community human and Christian, needs great encouragement. Encouragement is the process that makes “coexists” the different elements of the organism in a living unit.
And you, in different ways, do this encouragement. When you enter the Church, when you celebrate Mass, you can say: “They do encourage with singing.”I have certainly had many experiences of celebrations indifferent parishes and in the various Churches of the world: singing is An encouragement, gives soul to the praying, believing community. Give soul, and no it was without foundation, but had much, what Saint Augustine said:”Qui cantat bis orat – he who sings prays twice.” “Bis orat” because makes others “pray”. But this encouragement typical of Neocatechumenals are more deeply rooted. They are not just singers,although they are good singers. This encouragement comes from the very root of our experience in Christ and this root is Baptism. They have chosen this name “Neocatechumenals” thinking of the catechumenate who has formed the first generations of the Church, here in Rome and everywhere. This catechumenate led to the discovery of non-Christians, candidates for Baptism, the mystery of Christ, riches unfathomable that are in Christ and that are for us, in which we participate. And this participation is full, the nucleus begins already in the Baptism.
It is necessary to return to Baptism, everything Christian has to go back to his Baptism to know who he is, yes, to know who Christ is. Who he is thanks to Christ. And so change your life: new life. We know that this new life is very inscribed deeply in the Christian message, in the letters of the apostles and especially in the Gospel. One thing is this new life as it is read as a word, and another thing is this new life as it is lived. It’s a living tremendous, a tremendous experience. This is your encouragement more fundamentally, the courage made through this rediscovery of the riches that are in Christ, and that are in us thanks to Christ, and that the Holy Spirit gives to all through Baptism.
There is also another wealth, an animation very important that you carry forward in the world. This world so resigned that, with all his progress, he does not see prospects and many times he has no hope: he does not love life; does not love life, this is the deep sickness of our modern, western civilization, American, European. He does not love life, he fears life, he does everything not to give life.
So your courage is that of love for life. And this is an encouragement that goes inside of you, goes in your families, and there it takes place, spirited, full of hope and full of joy because the new life, children give joy. Plus it is an encouragement of human and Christian bravery. This meant to you, because I follow you, not always close, more times from afar, but I follow you quite a lot, and I think that this movement, as well as many others movements, it is a great gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church and to the humanity of today. Happy Easter, and Easter is the focal point of our creed and our life ».