Following the meeting for Eccelsial Movements and New Communities last February in Paray Le Monial, France, representatives of Regnum Christi and the Focolare saw the need to “update Charism in order to meet the challenges of the contemporary world.” The discussions then expanded to the urgency of identifying new and more effective approaches to today’s culture that is in continual evolution. Their concern was so strong that both Movements decided to fix a date when they could spend a whole day together, sharing expriences and praying for the protection of the Holy Spirit as they sought the right ways.
The intention for the meeting between 22 representatives of Regnum Christi and 29 representatives of the Focolare that was held on November 26th at Rocca di Papa, Italy, was not to study or come up with new strategies, nor to consult experts. It was simply meant to be an exchange among brothers and sisters in a synodal heart-to-heart communion, because the more we’re open to one another the more the presence of the Holy Spirit is deepened. It was a communion made of prayer, fraternal dialogue and communication that was itself seen as a gift to offer. Secretary of the Congregation For Catholic Education, Archbishop Vincenzo Zani, was invited to give the keynote address. Referring from magisterial texts he traced out a process of evangelization of the culture based on the “mysticism of brotherhood” (EG, 115) and on the transformational power of the Charisms. “Their co-essentiality to the petrine charism,” he explained, “makes them capable of strengthening the Church’s invitation to a positive vision of the cutlure, since “grace presupposes culture.”
Two other highlights were the presentations on updating the Charism. Focolare co-president, Jesús Morán, talked about creative fidelity: “The Spirit is ever new and continues to make history.” It is necessary to be perfectly rooted in the tradition,” Morán reiterated, but to be so “today.” Jorge López, General Committee member and General Director of the consecrated lay members of Regnum Christi, recalled that the “one authorized to update a Charism is the Church. And we are [ourselves] inasmuch as we are Church.” He then confided that “it is ironically our poverty that equips us for accomplishing our mission in accordance with the model of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” Interesting experiences were shared concerning the evangelization of the culture: four projects – two from Regnum Christi and two from the Focolare – in response to crucial challenges in the world of education today. They had two things in common: working together by creating networks; and the relationship between culture and the life. Marta Rodriguez, Director of the Woman Institute of the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, offered a helpful image: “The bridge between Jesus Christ and the secularized culture is people’s hearts. In the offering of our life to God, we have to look at others from the standpoint of Christ’s heart.”
The dialogue went on during lunch and increased the fraternal friendship. The afternoon concluded with an unplanned open discussion. And it was perhaps because of this that Someone was able to take things into His hands, allowing the participants to experience that “mysticism of brotherhood” that Pope Francis mentions in the Joy of the Gospel. As each person spoke at the mic, everyone else listened deeply. In that moment it seemed that even the personal roles of each person bloomed as they were illuminated by what the Spirit had revealed up to that point.
It was difficult to tell who belonged to which Movement. Perhaps it was a bit like what the first Christians were experiencing when they claimed to be “of one heart and one soul” (see Acts 2:42-48). Everything belonged to everyone in the joy and gratitude that exuded the Gospel. Any questions and fears that were floating – how to teach in a digital age; how to keep identity and mission alive, and so forth – found answers in the presentations and discussions. There was an awareness and trust that the Charisms are meant for history and for its technology, in a constant dialogue with the Eternal and totally open to those who have different convictions. Being “together” is the necessary condition to “go out” to where God will want us to go. Each of us needs the other, and needs to let ourselves be surprised by God.