Vatican City, 31 October 2014 (VIS) – “Seek the unity which is the work of the Holy Spirit and do not be afraid of diversity”, said Pope Francis in his address to a thousand members of the Catholic Fraternity of the Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowship, who are about to begin their Sixteenth International Conference on the theme “Praise and Worship for a New Evangelisation”.
“Unity does not imply uniformity; it does not necessarily mean doing everything together or thinking in the same way”, he underlined. “Nor does it signify a loss of identity. Unity in diversity is actually the opposite: it involves the joyful recognition and acceptance of the various gifts which the Holy Spirit gives to each one and the placing of these gifts at the service of all members of the Church. It means knowing how to listen, to accept differences, and having the freedom to think differently and express oneself with complete respect towards the other who is my brother or sister. Do not be afraid of differences!”.
Referring to the programme, where the names of the Communities are mentioned, he noted that in the introduction there is the phrase, “to share the Baptism in the Holy Spirit with the whole Church”, and reiterated that the Church and all Christians need to open their hearts to the sanctifying action of the Holy Spirit. “The Spirit ... reveals Jesus Christ to us, and leads us to a personal encounter with him. … Is this your experience? Share it with others! In order to share this experience, you must live it and bear witness to it!”
“Praise is the 'breath' which gives us life, because it is intimacy with God, an intimacy that grows through daily praise”, continued the Holy Father, explaining how spiritual life “works” by analogy with human respiration. “Breathing is made up of two stages: inhaling, the intake of air, and exhaling, the letting out of this air. The spiritual life is fed, nourished, by prayer and is expressed outwardly through mission: inhaling and exhaling. When we inhale, by prayer, we receive the fresh air of the Holy Spirit. When exhaling this air, we announce Jesus Christ risen by the same Spirit. No one can live without breathing. It is the same for the Christian: without praise and mission there is no Christian life. And with praise, worship. We rarely speak about worship. What do we do when we pray? We ask things of God, we give thanks … But worshipping and adoring God is part of breathing – praise and worship”.
The Pope emphasised that “Charismatic Renewal has reminded the Church of the necessity and importance of the prayer of praise”, which is “the recognition of the Lordship of God over us and over all creation expressed through dance, music and song. … The prayer of praise bears fruit in us. Sarah danced as she celebrated her fertility – at the age of ninety! This fruitfulness gives praise to God. … Together with the prayer of praise, the prayer of intercession is, in these days, a cry to the Father for our Christian brothers and sisters who are persecuted and murdered, and for the cause of peace in our turbulent world”.
“Charismatic Renewal is, by its very nature, ecumenical”, he remarked, citing the words of Blessed Paul VI : “The power of evangelisation will find itself considerably diminished if those who proclaim the Gospel are divided among themselves in all sorts of ways. Is this not perhaps one of the great sicknesses of evangelisation today? The Lord’s spiritual testament tells us that unity among his followers is not only the proof that we are his but also the proof that he is sent by the Father. It is the test of the credibility of Christians and of Christ himself. Yes, the destiny of evangelisation is certainly bound up with the witness of unity given by the Church'”.
Spiritual ecumenism, he concluded, is “praying and proclaiming together that Jesus is Lord, and coming together to help the poor in all their poverty. We must not forget that today the blood of Jesus, poured out by many Christian martyrs in various parts of the world, calls us and compels us towards the goal of unity. For persecutors, we are not divided: we are not Lutherans, Orthodox, Evangelicals, Catholics. No! We are one. For persecutors, we are Christians. It is an ecumenism of blood that we live today!”.