DON DE LUCA GESUALDO
(Schaffhausen, April 30, 2011)
CHURCH WHERE YOU ARE GOING
APOSTOLIC MOVEMENT AND LOCAL CHURCH
To present the theme” Apostolic Movement and the Local Church” I wish to begin from the 4 April exhortation words of the Inspirer, Mrs. Maria Marino, and from the theological comment the central assistant, Monsignor Costantino Di Bruno makes of it. In fact, here we find several concrete suggestions for our topic.
Here is the text of the exhortation words:
“The Apostolic Movement must remind the good news. It is the Church. It works with the Church, in the Church, for the Church. We have been working and persevering for almost 32 years…
The Apostolic Movement must be followed by many priests. The Priests are those who have to stay united in holiness and serve the Lord in the Church…
The Apostolic Movement collaborates with other Groups, Associations and Movements. It pays attention to the Documents of the Holy Father and the Bishops. It lives in fidelity to the Church…
I recommend the responsible members to collaborate, be united and work more and more every day…
Jesus needs us. He is our shield. We must be the watchmen, the soldiers of the Word of Jesus.”
In these words, simple and full of divine wisdom, there are some solid principles on which the Movement founds its apostolic work in the vineyard of the Lord.
Its charisma which is the announcement and the remembrance of the Gospel, the good news, is reminded. The proclamation of the gospel is designed to “fill the house of the Father”, to building up the Church, to the construction of the Christian community in which the Lord brings peace and salvation. A community that, like the one of the early Church is characterized by listening to the Apostles’ teaching, the prayer, the breaking of the Eucharistic bread and the fraternal communion (cf. Acts 2.41 to 42).
The Apostolic Movement, lives the charisma of “filling the Father’s House.” Therefore, all its activities are characterized as work in the Church, with the Church, for the Church, according to the features peculiar to the Church, which is one, holy, Catholic and apostolic.
Let us deepen briefly these indications.
- Filling the Father’s House.
The charisma of the Apostolic Movement is designed to “filling the Father’s house.” In order to understand the meaning of this expression we can refer to two evangelical parables: those of the prodigal son and of the wedding guests.
In the parable of the prodigal son that turns away from the house of the Father and ends in misery, we can see the situation of the man away from God: no one recognizes his dignity, he is placed to feed the pigs; they are given acorns so that they get fat and their meat is sold, but he is given nothing, it would be wasted! Only when the son returns to the house of the Father he receives the ring on his finger, the shoes on your feet, the best robe, and they make merry for him: he returns into the fullness of his humanity and dignity, due to the merciful love of the Father who has never changed his position as father and never stopped waiting for him (cf. Lk 15:11-32)
In the parable of the wedding guests we see the love of the Father that calls his children about his table; in front of their refusal he does not give up, he still sends his servants to look for the younger and last ones so that his house is filled (Luke 14:15-24).
Only in the Father’s house there is historical and eternal salvation and life. His house is the Church founded by Jesus Christ, where He feeds us with his body and his blood, enlightens us with his truth, makes us his people, he constitutes us in unity and fills us with every gift.
Here is why the Apostolic Movement always invites its members to insert themselves in parishes and exhorts them to invite every other person to undertake or start again his own journey in the Christian community and in the parish.
The mission of the Apostolic Movement is precisely that of filling the Father’s House, adding every day new members into the Church. And all this is accomplished through the proclamation and remembrance of the Word of the Son of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Redemption, which is carried out from heart to heart, from mouth to mouth, from friend to friend, from person to person, in the concrete daily situation, one lives in.
The modality to fill the house of the Father is not only that of saying the word of the Gospel, but of living and saying it all. The word is said and is credited with the coherence of our life to the Word proclaimed. The Word must be lived in full and must be announced in full. It must be lived in our daily lives, it must be proclaimed in every area and place where we spend our lives.
Every activity the Apostolic Movement carried out aims to awaken in our hearts the truth of our being disciples of Jesus. The newspaper, catechesis, musicals of the President, the website “www.movimentoapostolico.it” are all means to bring men to Christ in the Church. What young people do -and they do it well- is a means and not an end in itself. It is a means to awaken the faith, to fill the house of the Father. Everything in the Church is a means, a way. The aim is only one: doing all the will of God, observing the gospel, living the Beatitudes, achieving perfect conformity to Jesus the Lord, the faithful witness of the Father, his Servant obedient till death on a cross. Even the Eucharist belongs to the means. It is the life of Jesus Christ that is given to us so that we through him do all the will of the Father, in the same way that Christ did on our earth.
Every activity of the Apostolic Movement has an ecclesial importance: it works in the Church, with the Church and for the Church.
- In the Church, with the Church, for the Church
The Apostolic Movement was not called to be an evangelizing force outside or next to the Church. It has been called to be in the Church, for the Church, with the Church, being itself the Church of the Lord Jesus.
The Apostolic Movement is Church because it lives the essence, the substance, the form, the visibility and invisibility, the truth, the grace, the communion, the faith, the hope, the charity, the constitutive structure of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
2.1 “It works with the Church.”
Communion is the life of the Church. The communion of the Church is the life of the Apostolic Movement. It works as thee one body of Christ together with all the other members of the body of Christ, giving and receiving all the supernatural energy and every gift of the Holy Spirit.
The members have always been invited to participate in the life of the parish, living in communion and collaboration with all the other forces at work in her. The body is one. The charismas are many. The vineyard is one. The workers are always a few.
One goes to the parish and offers the parish the personal spirituality, so that it is harmonized, structured, cemented with all other forms of spirituality that already exist or that will exist.
Monsignor Costantino di Bruno brings an example that can well illuminate this concept: a house is built with iron, cement, sand, bricks, lime, wood and other materials. If each of these materials decides to be alone, to live for itself, never would the house be erected. When is a home erected? The moment the iron decides to let itself be caged by concrete. The cement decides to let it be mixed with sand to become one thing. And the same applies to all the other materials. A nail alone is useless. If it lets itself be nailed into the wood, then it gives strength to the wood and finds its truth. So it is true of the Member of the Apostolic Movement: if he does not decide to let himself be cemented in the forces of the parish, of the diocese, of the universal Church, never might he be used as raw material for the erection of the Spiritual Building of the Lord.
Communion is not a loss of identity. It is the preservation of the personal identity – otherwise it would not be communion if it were to lose its identity – but by joining its strength to other forces to become a single force. The sand alone is useless, so is also for the cement and iron by themselves. They are a force when they join the other forces.
If the Apostolic Movement is Church it cannot live if not in the form, the essence and the substance of the Church that is communion, truth, knowledge, guidance, support and obedience.
The communion is with every person in the Church, whatever his role, his ministry, his function, his office and his responsibility is. The communion is with every member of God’s people whether he is associated or not associated.
2.2 “It works in the Church.”
The insertion of the Apostolic Movement in the Church is alive and real, becoming an integral part of her, in the same way that the heart, lungs, liver, stomach and kidneys are in the body; they are the same body, they work in the body.
The insertion in the Church is not a geographical, topographical “configuration”; that is, in the sense it is inserted into the structures of the Church, however, remaining with the own individual and community freedom. One could also work in the Church as a detached body, but it would not be Apostolic Movement.
The Apostolic Movement works in the Church in the same way that the branch works in the vine. It is part of it. It is in it.
2.3 “It works for the Church.”
The Apostolic Movement works for the Church because it lives her very mission, without any difference. The Church works to “create” the Church. She does not work to spread absolute principles of truth, but to “aggregate” to her life. In the words of St. Luke in the Acts of the Apostles: “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).
Thus, the Apostolic Movement works to “create” the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. It works to fill the Father’s House and to add new members to the Church every day.
The Apostolic Movement does not lead to itself. It leads to the Church. Leading to the Church, it leads to Christ. Christ and the Church are one. However, there is no Christ without the Church, outside of the Church and against the Church.
- In the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church
The work of the Apostolic Movement is accomplished within the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. What does all this mean and what pastoral and spiritual character implications do these marks of the Church entail to its members? Let us try to see it.
3.1 The Church is one
The mystery of the unity of the Church has its beginning in the Trinity of the Persons of one God the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit “(UR 2). “There is only one Father, one Logos, and also one Holy Spirit, everywhere the same, and there is also one virgin become mother, in the universe.”
This one Church has been marked by a great diversity which comes from both the variety of God’s gifts and the multiplicity of the persons that receive them. Among the members of the Church there is a diversity of gifts, functions, conditions, and ways of life. The great richness of such diversity is not opposed to the unity of the Church.
The image of the Church is a wonderfully presented by the seamless tunic of Christ. The Church is the splendid robe of Christ Jesus. No one has the right to tear it, to reduce it in pieces or shreds. Everyone has the duty of keeping it forever intact and immaculate. If the Church is the splendid robe of Jesus, everyone must consider himself a part of this wonderful beauty. Everyone owes the Church his spiritual beauty, ascetics, mystics and morality. With sin her divine beauty is darkened.
We are called to keep the bonds of unity: with charity, which is the “bond of perfection” (Col3:14) and with the visible bonds of communion: the profession of one faith received from the Apostles; common celebration of divine worship, especially of the sacraments and the apostolic succession through the sacrament of the Holy Order.
Inside the one Church there is the living in communion and collaboration. The Church is called to be “home and school of communion”. The Apostolic Movement lives full communion with the other lay faithful, among its members and with the shepherds.
It collaborates with other groups, Associations and Movements. The communion is with every member of God’s people whether he is associated or non associated; it is with every person in the Church, whatever his role, his ministry, his function, his office and his responsibility, is.
The community is also within the Apostolic Movement: communion between assistant priests and adherents and communion among the adherents themselves.
“I recommend the Responsible members to collaborate, be united, and work every day more.” Addressing with these words the Responsible members of the Apostolic Movement, the inspirer reminds the need for the communion. Without it one is already a prey to temptation, because he has already placed himself outside of the law of God, which is communion.
To live in communion with one another the virtue of humility is required. Everyone has to see himself and the other before God and in the plan or mystery of salvation established by God from all eternity.
To be humble it is necessary for everyone to know himself in a true, holy and righteous way. Let him know what the Lord has given him to be and what he might never be. For this reason he needs all wisdom, intelligence and knowledge in the Holy Spirit.
3.2 The Church is holy
The Church is holy. In fact, Christ, the Son of God, who with the Father and the Spirit is hailed as “the only Holy one”; loved the Church as his bride and gave himself for her, with the end of sanctifying her, and united her to himself as his Body and filled her with the gift of the Holy Spirit, for the glory of God” (LG 39).
United to Christ and sanctified by him, the Church becomes, through him and in him, also sanctifying. All the activities of the Church converge, as to their end, “towards the sanctification of men and the glorification of God in Christ” (SC10). It is in the Church that “the fullness of the means of salvation” is found (UR3). It is in her that “through the grace of God we acquire holiness” (LG 48).
Hence the task of every Christian of sanctifying himself, approaching the means of grace which the Church has; and getting every man close the source of grace and truth which flows from Christ, in the Church.
Each adherent member of the Apostolic Movement is called to make the journey of his own sanctification using all the means of grace which the Church has at her disposal: the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation, the spiritual direction, the personal and community prayer, the devout recitation of the Holy rosary to the Blessed virgin Mary, Mother of the Redemption.
The Inspirer often reminds us that the Eucharist and the holy rosary are the weapon and the shield of the Christian.
“The Holy Eucharist, celebrated and lived with faith, makes us persevere to the end in the mission of remembrance and of the announcement of the Word of Jesus.” Jesus is the Love that loved us to the end. By getting nourished with faith with Him, we too can love until the end. Everything is from the Eucharist. Living the Eucharist well, is making all our lives a Eucharist, a sacrifice of love for our Heavenly Father.
“May the Holy Rosary, recited with love, fill us with wisdom.” The Virgin Mary is the Knowing Virgin, the Mother of Divine Wisdom. Filled with all wisdom, in Christ and in the Holy Spirit, we are able to see and to do the will of God. That is why we live: to daily do the will of the Lord.
3.3. The Church is catholic
The word “catholic” means “universal” in the sense of “according to the totality” or “according to the integrality.” The Church is catholic in a double sense:
– First, because Christ is present in her. The fullness of Christ’s body united with her head, subsists in her (cf. Eph 1:22-23), and this implies that she receives from him “in totality and fullness the means of salvation” (AG 6) that he wanted: correct and complete confession of faith, full sacramental life, and ordained ministry in the apostolic succession.
– It is Catholic because it is sent on mission by Christ to the whole of mankind (cf. Mt 28:19). All men are called to form the new People of God. Therefore, this people, remaining one and only one, must spread to the whole world and to all ages, so that the intention of the will of God, which in the beginning created the one human nature and finally wants to gather together his children, that were dispersed. . .; is fulfilled.
This character of universality which adorns the People of God, is a gift from the Lord himself, and with it the Catholic Church effectively and constantly strives to recapitulate all of humanity, with all its goods, under Christ the Head in the unity of his Spirit (LG 13).
The Apostolic Movement lives his Catholicism with the never-ending mission of announcing and reminding the Gospel everywhere, by land, sea and heaven.
The methods are suggested by the Holy Spirit, who is “the protagonist of all the ecclesial mission” (RM 2). Only in Him, with Him, through Him we can live with fruits the mission that has been entrusted us. For this reason the Movement asks the Holy Spirit to guard it in his wisdom and intelligence and to enlighten it with his seven gifts. With the Spirit of the Lord we must become one wisdom and only one intelligence, one light and one truth.
Jesus was always moved by the Holy Spirit. The Inspirer is also constantly moved by the Holy Spirit. Every Adherent Member of the Apostolic Movement must also look for this motion and dwell in it. If we are under the motion of the Holy Spirit we know the will of God and we implement it with fruits of conversion and of eternal life.
3.4 The Church is apostolic
The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the Apostles, in three ways:
– She was and remains built on ‘the foundation of the Apostles’ (Eph 2:20), chosen and sent witnesses on mission by Christ himself;
– She keeps and transmits, with the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the teaching and the salutary words heard from the Apostles (2 Tim 1:13-14);
– Until the return of Christ, she continues to be taught, sanctified and guided by the Apostles through their successors in the pastoral mission: the college of bishops, “assisted by priests, in united to the successor of Peter and the supreme pastor of the Church” (AG 5).
Jesus, the Sent by the Father, sent his apostles to continue his own mission: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you” (Jn20:21).This mission is to last until the end of time. For this reason the Apostles took care to appoint successors” (LG 20).
The whole Church is apostolic because it remains in communion of faith and life with her origin, through the successors of St. Peter and the Apostles. The whole Church is apostolic, as it is “sent” to all the world; all members of the Church, even though in different ways, participate in this mission. “In fact, the Christian vocation is by its nature also a vocation to the apostolate.” “All the activity of the Mystical Body” that aims “at spreading the Kingdom of Christ over all the earth””is called apostolate” (AA 2).
The Apostolic Movement lives this note in the life of the Church with its deep bond of obedience to the faith to pastors.”It is attentive to the Documents of the Holy Father and the Bishops. It lives of faithfulness to the Church.” The attention to Documents is required by the truth we are called to walk in. The Apostolic Movement is truth. The truth is from hearing the Word of the Pope and the Bishops. Loyalty is obedience, listening, mission, communion, truth and grace.
The Inspirer always reminds that “The Apostolic Movement must be guided much by priests. Priests are those who have to stay united in holiness and serve the Lord in the Church.” In fact, the priest is the bearer of the will of the Father to men. He is the giver of divine wisdom to his brothers; he is the heart of Christ in history; he is in Christ the mediator of the truth and grace of Jesus Christ; he is the Minister of the Word, the Administrator of the mysteries of God, the Counselor of the truth, the Builder of the spirit, the Healer of the soul; he is the Bearer of Heaven on our earth; he is the always lit lighthouse that indicates the safe haven towards which to go. Without the priest, the Church does not live in her full essence. The Church would lack the grace and truth. She would simply lack the living Christ.
In the Movement everything is done in full communion of faith with the bishops, the priests, with the ecclesiastical assistants. Souls are led to the pastors of the Church, so that they are the ones to fill them of the grace and truth of Christ and to lead them to the kingdom of heaven.
I wish to conclude by quoting once again, the words of the Inspirer: “Jesus needs us. He is our shield. We must be the sentinels and the soldiers of the Word of Jesus ”
Jesus needs us. We are required to be the sentinels and the soldiers of the Word of Jesus. We are it when we spread, guard, protect and make grow in our hearts the Word of Jesus.
When we work for the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, so that the glory of his father is recognized by every man, Jesus is our shield: we are the shield of the Word and Jesus makes himself our shield. We make the Word grow and He will us grow as Apostolic Movement.
This international convention can be for all of us an opportunity to rethink our vocation and mission as Apostolic Movement in the Church. Therefore, we must strive more and more every day to get to know Jesus and His word, to increase our faith in the mission that has been entrusted us, to carry it out in communion with our brothers and sisters of faith and Apostolic Movement and to walk with the Church, for the Church, in the Church in order to fill the Father’s House.
Let us invoke upon us the maternal intercession of the Mother of Jesus and our Mother so that our journey is more and more according to her heart and we can be conformed to Christ Jesus who today carries out in his body, the salvation of humanity.