Visit to the parish of San Tarsicio March 3, 1985
St. John Paul II
Rome, March 3, 1985
Inside the parish, the pastor presented the Neocatechumenal Communities to the Pope. The members of the first community will begin within a few days a new mission; they will go to the houses of the neighborhood to announce the Gospel. “This is an important moment and also a delicate moment for the community”, said the parish priest.
“Your Holiness,” said a member of the community afterwards, “Your particular benevolence towards the communities encourages me to take the floor before you who represents the Church to bear witness to what the Lord has done in my life during the Neocatechumenal Way. It is not the case that my life had stopped in Pius XII and that I have found it with you under your pontificate, ignoring the existence of three other Pontiffs. In fact, after a childhood lived in a rigid Catholic education, I discovered at the age of 18 that the adult man must have a specific mission: to combat the Christian religion as a dangerous superstition. I considered Christianity and Christ as a utopia and a failure, reserving only to man the power to be the architect of his own existence. Such a mistaken vision of existence had led me for 25 years to an internal, intellectual and emotional disorder from which I was not able to get out. Even the suicide of a friend presented to me – without answer – questions about the existence of man, about the meaning of life. About 6 years ago the Lord came to fill my life: suddenly, unexpectedly, He came through some catechists who were losing their lives for others. From that day on my life changed, I discovered that the Lord loved me as no one could have. I had even warped the love of God thinking that I could not love others as he loved me. As the Word of God poured into my life, I discovered the mercy of God much more. This love has regenerated me as a husband and father. In fact, I have discovered a new wife, the one the Lord – not me – had chosen for me. I have discovered new children as children of God. Your Holiness, with this brief testimony I try to return to the Church what I have received in gratitude and filial love.”
“I know you,” the Pope replied, “I meet you in various parishes in Rome, I also meet you in various countries of the world. It is very easy to identify you, because when you begin to play the guitars and when the characteristic Neocatechumenal song is repeated, in any corner of the world, the Pope quickly knows who they are and rejoices. He rejoices everywhere and rejoices also in this parish. I have spoken many times to the Neocatechumenal Communities in various places in Rome and now I know very well that there are two characteristic elements of your charism. The first is an enthusiasm for faith rediscovered: of the faith, faith rediscovered, including in those who had it forever, perhaps the faith lived, practiced, in those who were good and honest Christians. Once rediscovered in its fullest meaning, in its mystery and in its supernatural greatness, faith creates enthusiasm. This enthusiasm of faith is so necessary for our time! Our cold, indifferent time, that does not want to commit itself, that says of the truth of the faith, of Christ, of God: yes, perhaps, who knows, it could be true, … etc.. This enthusiasm, this personal conviction which is the only thing capable of convincing others, is necessary.
Then, the second thing that I think belongs to your charism is radical conversion. I have heard your two testimonies, especially the first one that moved me deeply and I have thought immediately: what more do we want? We have another testimony of Paul of Tarsus, one who fought against Jesus, who wanted, not only to kill him, to destroy Christianity. Then, in a moment, he found the Risen Jesus and became his disciple, his most zealous, most effective apostle. We are thinking that our age, in which so many people have lost faith and have taken other paths following ideologies and philosophical systems and have even found associations that offer anti-religious programs, our age needs radical conversions like that of Paul of Tarsus. It is with such pleasure that I see you and I believe that you are very necessary in today’s Church, in today’s world. You must continue cultivating your charisms and deepening your identity, always keeping very close to the pastors of the Church and always following the special grace that belongs to the Neocatechumenal Communities.”