Five days of celebrations, able to engage in an equal way people coming from different places and contexts in the same spirit of brotherhood. This is the path traced for the over 30,000 faithful who came to Rome from more than 130 countries of the world to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Charismatic Renewal. An opportunity to demonstrate how the path of unity, repeatedly invoked by Pope Francis, is the one actually followed by the charismatics around the planet, arrived in the Circo Massimo for the encounter with the Holy Father and to bear witness of how the action of the Holy Spirit will continue every day to give gifts in the life of each person willing to live a new Pentecost. An appointment in which we certainly saw emerging the ecumenical aspect, in order to demonstrate that the path of the “reconciled diversity” advocated by the Pontiff can really be travelled. An issue addressed by Michelle Moran, President of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Service (ICCRS) who explained to in Terris the spiritual significance of these fifty years, between ecumenism and the importance of the testimony.
What does it mean to have reached the fifty years of the Charismatic Renewal and to celebrate it all together in this spirit of ecumenism?
“We are celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal but it is a current of grace of a greater current born at the beginning of the century with the Pentecostal movement that has experienced exactly the same thing. We are drawing in the river from which also others such as the Pentecostal church, take the same graces. The event itself of the Renewal is an occasion in which is very easy to find communion”.
In this historical moment in which there are many wars of religion and our world lives many situations of conflict, how important is the message of renewal and especially how much can give to people telling and bearing witness of the action of the Holy Spirit?
“The Holy Spirit brings peace and love and brings them into the hearts of the people. And these are the people who, through the action of the Spirit, can then spread this grace to others. So many people are involved in this grace inherent in the power of the Holy Spirit, so that they have the ability to spread it to the brothers. It is precisely in this way that the peace brought to us by the Holy Spirit spreads”.
Gathering here together, is also a way to respond to the call of Pope Francis who always invites to the unity and to an “outgoing” Church…
“Everyone has their own charism and the Pope asks everyone to revive it. Our, that of the Charismatic Renewal, is the baptism in the Holy Spirit that is not only an experience in the heart, as if it is an interior church, but also in the Church active in the society and in the world. Then an experience that starts from the heart but it turns to bear witness among the peoples of the whole world”.
A challenge accepted
Certainly, in the context of the Circo Massimo, the aspect of the organization and of the welcoming played a fundamental role. And providing the participants with a place of aggregation safe and suitable for meeting with Pope Francis, was not a small target. In spite of the fact that the sun, the heat of Rome and the obvious inconveniences related to the environment have severely tested the participants, the response of the Charismatic Renewal was important and, in the two days of celebration in the former Roman stadium, the presences touched very high numbers. We spoke about this aspect with Oreste Pesare, Executive Director of ICCRS and the head of the organization of the event.
How big was the effort from an organizational point of view, to welcome so many people in the Circo Massimo? And what does this meeting mean at a spiritual level?
“This is a challenge that we have accepted more than a year and a half ago. And I speak of a challenge from when, on 25 April last year, we met with Pope Francis and he began to speak of our Jubilee. He was fully involved and encouraged us to do something that could be a sign for the Church today. He began to talk of an ecumenical prayer vigil, of a dream: that the Church of Jesus is one. And we have accepted the challenge: we already had in the heart to celebrate our fiftieth anniversary, the 50 years of the presence of this Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church. I say this because the Renewal is beyond any conventional barrier. It was born at the beginning of the twentieth century, with the Pentecostals, and now this spirituality, this current of grace, as Pope Francis calls it, develops in all the Christian denominations. In what does it consist of? In a living experience with Jesus. Then we are not and we do not want to be a movement like the others… We want to be those who have met Jesus, in the way in which he calls you and in the way in which you reply. When we accepted this challenge, everything smoothened in front of us, even if we realize that organizing such a thing here in Rome at the Circo Massimo and not in Piazza San Pietro, was a second challenge because there everything was organised, while here everything was to be done. More than a year of work, an international staff from all five continents, two software programs that interchanged because they were not commensurate with this huge planning that we needed to develop”.
To organise a similar event in a context like this where many complications may arise, is certainly not easy… What were the main difficulties encountered?
“Our sin. This is the real difficulty, because the practical things get solved. The sin, the difficulties of the relationships which, although normal, are however those that weigh more, because you would like to go ahead, you are serving the Lord and, instead, you discover that the greatest difficulty is yourself”.
Then the fundamental aspect has been to be committed to work together and in the broadest sense, to celebrate in a spirit of ecumenism…
“Absolutely yes, intra nos ed extra nos!”
A challenge, this, which has presented many obstacles but that, at the end, has allowed the over 30 thousand people present in the Circo Massimo to meet Pope Francis who, again, drew a well-defined line to follow: the one of communion and unity to carry out a mission that, in an absolutely specular way, involves us as Christians, whatever our name is.