Visit to the parish of Saint Felix of Cantalice May 4, 1986
St. John Paul II
Rome, May 4, 1986 *
The presence of the Neocatechumenal Communities is encouraged in the parish. The Pope had a special meeting with them during which, after having heard the testimony of the catechists of the community, he wanted to remember the numerous meetings he has had in all the parishes of Rome and in the visits he makes to other cities in Italy and throughout the world with groups of Neocatechumens. Groups that have something – the Pope has said – that distinguishes them, quickly, from others.
Presentation of the catechist of the Parish (Giacomo): «Your holiness, I speak because I am the catechist of these brothers. Before anything, I am very happy to be with you in the graces that the Church gives us in fullness, with sweetness. I say this because by nature I am a violent person and I have spent a childhood with a lot of suffering, with many tribulations; and since I was not in the Church, this has created within me an image of God as justice-maker who should pay me for everything I had suffered. This made me suffer a lot, to grow up in a way that was totally wrong, to then become one of those Christians who are scandal because they preach things that they do not put into practice. When I had become aware of this reality, which was a scandal to others because I had made violence my creed, I was already married with two children and I was afraid of myself, Father, and I even thought of ending my life. I asked the Virgin Mary, of whom I was devoted, to help, give meaning to what I was doing because I was completely lost. One Sunday when I went to mass, I found a lay person, one like me, who announced the forgiveness and mercy of Jesus Christ for violent people like me, Father. Even for the violent like me the Lord had a way to return to love and forgiveness. Behold, Father, I have been in this Way for 15 years and the Church sends me into the world to announce forgiveness and mercy. »
The Pope has addressed these words to the communities present:
« Thank you for this testimony. It is not the first time that I have heard the testimony of a neocatechumen and it always moves me. But when I was coming in and heard the song “Mary, blessed Mary”, then I quickly understood who were the ones singing, because with this song I recognize you everywhere; in the middle of the African continent or in India, anywhere in the world you distinguish yourself with this song “Mary, blessed Mary, you have believed in the Word of the Lord”. This is what characterizes your Way, the way of all the Neocatechumenal Communities, the way of each one of you because it is a way of faith; of a faith, sometimes totally rediscovered in a profound conversion. Sometimes this faith is rediscovered in the full sense of its depth, in its depth. Faith, in fact, has a tremendous depth, immense of which we believers are not always aware. Faith is the participation in the same knowledge of God. God makes us know him and faith prepares us for the vision of God and already carries in itself “the seeds” of this vision of God. Faith must always be discovered throughout the course of life. Many times this profound dimension of faith is neglected by Christians; many do not know what they carry within themselves, being Christians and having faith. Your way consists of this: either to find faith completely or to find it again in the sense of the depth of what you already had before. And here the meaning of your song fits well: “Mary, blessed Mary, you have believed in the Word of the Lord.”
You cannot imagine a more perfect faith than the faith of Mary. This is the height of the faith that every human creature has had in Her. A faith that manifested right after the Annunciation. We can say that it is of an almost unbelievable faith: it takes a paradigm to express the faith of Mary. Elizabeth also said to Mary: “Happy is she who has believed in the Word of the Lord …” Mary’s faith is certainly an example of the faith that every believer must have, all who rediscover this faith, who deepen it and especially all of you who have this way of faith as your charism, as the mission of your being Neocatechumens. It gives me joy to meet your groups because I find together with parents some adults, so many children! Neocatechumens are said to have large families, they have so many children! This is proof of faith, of faith in God.
To give life to man it takes faith in God. If today we are living this great so-called demographic crisis, crisis of family, crisis of parenthood, crisis of motherhood, it is just a consequence of a lack of faith in God. This problem can’t be improved if not with deep faith in God. A great faith in God to give life to man. »
(*) Cfr. «L’Osservatore Romano», 5-6 maggio 1986, con integrazioni dalla registrazione diretta.