Visit to the parish of Saint Luigi Gonzaga November 6, 1988
St. John Paul II
Rome, November 6, 1988
Evangelization and catechesis occupy and have had a place over other activities in the apostolic work of the parish. Various attempts at liturgical animation have been carried out at the feast day masses and various initiatives at parish days. They have gone in search of the “far away” with visits to the houses. Preparation for Confirmation has been intensified, trying to follow with post-confirmation and preparation for marriage. Neocatechumens offer special help to this assiduous task, as demanding as it is fruitful. They have been in the parish of Saint Luigi Gonzaga for twenty years and are present today with five communities that bring together about one hundred and fifty adults and about eighty children. Several itinerant catechists have left the Parioli parish and have gone to various countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and America. The Neocatechumens have welcomed the Pope under a large white and yellow tent, set up in the courtyard of the parish complex. After a brief introduction by the pastor, Kiko Argüello, initiator of the Neocatechumenal Way, presented the various communities.
The Pope, after an affectionate greeting to the children present, has said:
«The evangelical radicalism that we find in different pages of the Gospels is expressed above all with the words: give your life. Christ was certainly a teacher, a “Rabbi”, he taught; but he told us everything in the end, giving his life, with his death and resurrection. His last word has been the most complete. So: give your life. I see this word is made flesh in your Neocatechumenal communities. Many are willing to give their lives in a different way … and the Holy Spirit knows this well.
Another consideration is linked to the word leaven. We know well the parable of the Gospel about the yeast. You are a leaven that makes the dough grow. The Church is a dough, humanity is a greater dough. The Church is a dough, too.
But sometimes this dough is inert, not sufficiently catechized, not sufficiently fed by the sacraments, not sufficiently aware of what Baptism is. Baptism is the first leaven in each of us, which makes us personally experience Baptism in our body, in our soul and in our person. We are not sufficiently aware of what our Baptism is. Saint Paul has left us indications, perfect messages of what our Baptism is. We, however, are always below what is its reality, what it means. This is why a leaven is needed to make the awareness of Baptism grow, Baptism itself is a sacramental leaven; but an apostolic leaven is required. Based on this awareness, you make yourselves leaven in the dough, in the Churches, in the dioceses, in the parishes and you make what Christ wanted from the Apostles be fully realized: you go. He did not say: take houses, wealth, buildings … no. He said: go. In this way you too are itinerants in conformity to the word of Christ. The Pope, too, despite his house, the Vatican, Saint Peter’s Basilica, tries to be a little itinerant.
I don’t pretend to have exhausted the whole argument. In these four observations, you can find yourselves, you can find your image, also find courage to continue being what you are, what you want to be. But see in these words of mine my blessing and hopefully this blessing expresses and carries with it the grace of the Lord. The leaven, the itinerancy grows in the grace of the Lord.
The catechist who recently told us that he has felt a whisper in his heart, in his conscience, certainly he heard it because Kiko worked and set it in motion, but only as a human instrument. Really, it was the Spirit who was working, the Grace of the Lord, the Holy Spirit that has begun to blow. It was He, the Holy Spirit who has blown and did not leave this man in peace. Christ has not come to leave us in peace. He has come to bring us peace, the greatest peace to which the human person aspires: the peace of God, reconciliation; He has not come to bring us a comfortable, quiet life, no, certainly not ».