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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Charisms and their action in the Christian community

Vatican City, 2014 (VIS) – The charisms that build the Church and make her fruitful constituted the subject of Pope Francis' catechesis during today's general audience in St. Peter's Square, attended by over 35,000 people.

“Ever since the beginning, the Lord has filled his Church with the gifts of His Spirit, making her forever alive ... and among these gifts, we find some that are particularly valuable for the edification and the progress of the Christian community: these are charisms”, said the bishop of Rome, explaining that in everyday language we often refer to “charisma” in relation to a talent or natural ability. However, from a Christian point of view, a charism is far more than a personal quality, a predisposition or a gift: it is a grace, a gift from God the Father, by the action of the Holy Spirit … so that with the same gratuitous love it may be placed at the service of the entire community, for the good of all”.

On the other hand, Pope Francis emphasised that alone it is impossible to understand whether or not one has received a charism or what form it takes, as it is within a community that we learn to recognise them as a sign of the Father's love for all of His sons and daughters. It is therefore good for us to ask ourselves, 'Has the Lord made a charism issue forth in me, in the grace of His Spirit, that my brothers in the Christian community have recognised and encouraged? And how do I act, in relation to this gift: do I experience it with generosity, placing it at the service of all, or do I neglect it and end up forgetting about it? Or does it perhaps become a pretext for pride, so that I expect the community to do things my way?”.

“The most beautiful experience, however, is discovering how many different charisms there are, and with how many gifts of the Spirit the Father fills His Church. This must not be regarded as a cause for confusion or unease: they are all gifts that God gives to the Christian community, so that it might grow harmoniously, in faith and in His love, like one body, the body of Christ. The same Spirit that grants this diversity of charisms also constructs the unity of the Church”. He warned, “Beware, lest these gifts become a cause for envy, division or jealousy! As the apostle Paul recalls in his First Letter to the Corinthians, all charisms are important in the eyes of God, and at the same time, no-one is indispensable. This means that in the Christian community everyone needs the other, and every gift received is fully realised when it is shared with brothers, for the good of all. This is the Church! And when the Church, in the variety of her charisms, is expressed in communion, she cannot err: it is the beauty and the strength of the sensus fidei, of that supernatural sense of faith, that is given by the Holy Spirit so that together we can enter into the heart of the Gospel and learn to follow Jesus in our life”.

Pope Francis went on to recall that today the Church commemorates St. Therese of Lisieux, who died at the age of 24 and “loved the Church so much that she wanted to be a missionary; she wanted to have every sort of charism. And in prayer she realised that her charism was love. She said, 'In the heart of the Church, I will be love', a beautiful phrase. And we all have this charism: the capacity to love. Today let us ask St. Therese of the Child Jesus for this capacity to love the Church, to love her dearly, and to accept all these charisms with this filial love for the Church, for our hierarchical holy mother Church”.

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