Most Excellent Mons. VINCENZO BERTOLONE,
Most Reverend Monsignor DELGADO MIGUEL GALINDO
Kindest President of the A. M. LADY CONCETTA MARRAFFA
Most Excellent Bishops,
Most reverend Priests,
Venerable Deacons, Religious Men and Women, Consecrated Lay Women,
Civil and Military authorities of all levels,
Dear Lay Faithful
Tonight I decided to be among you not as a theologian, not as a priest, not as the Ecclesiastical Assistant of the Apostolic Movement. Nothing of all this. I am leaving the theology to others and it is right to be like this.
I am among you as a witness of an event that has lasted for 35 long years. It is an event related to the theme chosen for this VI National Convention of the Apostolic Movement: “The Lay Faithful and the New Evangelization.”
Mine wants to be a witness without emphasis, without rhetoric, without interest, without profit, limiting myself to referring you what I saw and heard in purest simplicity.
I will talk to you not of “lay faithful”, but of “a lay faithful”, who has never studied what the word “new evangelization” means, who does not even know the Documents of Vatican Council II and all every other written work of the Magisterium of the Pope and of the bishops. She possesses a very limited knowledge of the Gospel and Sacred Scripture.
However, she knows the Holy Spirit, because she is perfectly known, moved, guided by him; she is perpetually supported, driven, strengthened, and comforted by him; she is daily sent, made his mission of reconciliation, forgiveness, conversion, and peace with the remembrance and proclamation of the Word of Jesus, by him.
What St. Paul said of himself can be said of her:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the holy Spirit. I myself am convinced about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to admonish one another. But I have written to you rather boldly in some respects to remind you, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in performing the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering up of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the holy Spirit. In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to boast in what pertains to God. For I will not dare to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to lead the Gentiles to obedience by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit (of God), so that from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum I have finished preaching the gospel of Christ. Thus I aspire to proclaim the gospel not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on another’s foundation, but as it is written: “Those who have never been told of him shall see, and those who have never heard of him shall understand.(Rm 15,13-21).
So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him. Working together, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
We cause no one to stumble in anything, in order that no fault may be found with our ministry; on the contrary, in everything we commend ourselves as ministers of God, through much endurance, in afflictions, hardships, constraints, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, vigils, fasts; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, in a holy spirit, in unfeigned love, in truthful speech, in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness at the right and at the left; through glory and dishonor, insult and praise. We are treated as deceivers and yet are truthful; as unrecognized and yet acknowledged; as dying and behold we live; as chastised and yet not put to death; as sorrowful yet always rejoicing; as poor yet enriching many; as having nothing and yet possessing all things. (2Cor 5,20-6,10).
This “lay person, faithful” to Christ, faithful to the Holy Spirit, faithful to the heavenly Father, faithful to the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Redemption, faithful to the Angels and Saints, faithful to the Church, to her faith, hope and charity, to her Magisterium, to her priests, faithful to every man, did not talk to me of a scientific, theological, evangelical, scriptural, biblical, ecclesial, liturgical, moral, ascetic God, or other.
This “Faithful lay person” created God in me. Let no one be shocked. She really created him in his purest truth, charity, justice, holiness, compassion, mercy, and piety. She created him in his true essence. Not through high and difficult words, metaphysical concepts or quotations from ancient and modern theologians, not through phrases borrowed from this or that other person of fashion, with a “designer label” that is trendy, but through a simple way, through the live, efficacious, powerful gift of the Holy Spirit of God, that constantly hovers over her.
Let no one tear his clothes to pieces! But it happened as in the house of Zecchariah
During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord 14 should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”(Lk 1,39-45).
A not waited for, unexpected, unwanted, unsought, not even desired visit. In an instant all was accomplished and then “I saw people walk upside down.” Even now I see them walk upside down to remind me that before, I also walked in the same way. But we all walk upside down if the Spirit of the Lord does not grab and shake us with power, as the prophet Haggai prophesies:
“For thus says the Lord of hosts: One moment yet, a little while, and I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all the nations, and the treasures of all the nations will come in, And I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. Mine is the silver and mine the gold, says the Lord of hosts. Greater will be the future glory of this house than the former, says the Lord of hosts; And in this place I will give you peace, says the Lord of hosts” (Hag 2,6-9).
When God is created in a heart, the heart is created in God. This is the true mystery of the evangelization: creating God in every heart; however, not a false God or a fake god, but the God of Jesus Christ, the true Christ of the Church, the true Church of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit that creates the true community of believers, because it instills in them the truth of hierarchical communion and obedience. The Spirit of love, of redemption, salvation, and justification. Of love for the mission. Of love that drives us to give our life for the salvation of the world. With this true God, to be created in the heart day after day, one enters the world of the redemptive suffering in favour of the Body of Christ which is the Church.
She is the woman of suffering both physical and spiritual. However, Christ made her a promise: “Every your suffering will save a soul.”
Even this word of St. Paul takes place in her day to day, with ever greater intensity. However, she will respond with a love that goes far beyond our possibilities and with a patience that exceeds the limits of human endurance. By the grace of God all that is in plain view of everyone.
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church, of which I am a minister in accordance with God’s stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God, the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past. But now it has been manifested to his holy ones, to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; it is Christ in you, the hope for glory. It is he whom we proclaim, admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. For this I labor and struggle, in accord with the exercise of his power working within me. (Col 1,24-29).
After this creation that very long time of growth in wisdom and grace, that will never run out begins. Without this growth, which is all entrusted to the wise action of the Church and especially to the work of the ordained minister, in the end all will prove to be useless, vain.
This is the prudent, wise, divine, and intelligent action of the Holy Spirit, operated by means of this “Lay faithful.”
She always gives to the Church every heart in which God has been created by her, by the work of the Holy Spirit. The success of every work of evangelization is in this vital, and necessary delivery. In the non-delivery, there is a total failure.
The Church is a mystery of communion. Nobody can do everything in it. Every one is invested with a particular charisma and ministry. It is always in the Church, with the Church, for the Church that the particular ministry, mission, mandate, and missionary and evangelization works might be carried out according to fullness of truth and grace.
The baptized is of the Church, as well as the confirmed. The seminarian is also of the Church as well as the future priest. The whole Apostolic Movement is of the Church, because it was handed over by Jesus to the parish, the diocese, the bishop, the priest, so that they insert it in the womb of the Church, so it can live its own charisma, according to her nature, essence, and truth.
The Apostolic Movement is secular, that is, made of lay faithful. But it is called to be “overbearingly”, and “violently” ecclesial – to use an evangelical term, a word spoken by Jesus – since the Virgin Mary gave it a well-defined, clear and specific mission: “The remembrance and the announcement of the Word of Her Son Jesus.”
Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force. All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come. Whoever has ears ought to hear. (Mt 11,11-15).
The Word to be reminded and announced is not his. It is of the Church. It is entirely his, if it is of the whole Church. If it is not of the Church, neither is his. If it is not of the Church it is not a word that saves, redeems, and converts.
The Word is not everything in the Church. From the Word one must pass to the creation of the truth in man. This new creation does not take place only through the Word. The Word prepares it. It takes place through the sacramental grace and this grace is not laical, it is sacramental; as the ministry of the Word is not lay, it is sacramental, it belongs rightfully to the ordained Minister.
It is the ordained minister, that acts in communion with the Diocesan Ordinary, the one who gives truth to the Apostolic Movement. Without him, the Apostolic Movement is, yes, lay, but never might it be said to be ecclesial.
The Apostolic Movement, friends who hear me, can exist in its truth only ecclesiastically, because its mission is only ecclesial, according to the will of the Almighty Lord, that was communicated to us by the voice of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Redemption.
Since the beginning, that is how this “Lay faithful”, saw the Apostolic Movement – always by the motion of the Holy Spirit -; and that is why for nine months, without ever getting tired, she asked the Lord – when no one wanted to give the status of true ecclesiality to her mission – to send a priest to lead this small flock that grew and everyone escaped as if it were a plague or leprosy.
If every “lay faithful” wants to be a “lay faithful” to God and the Church, he must daily ask the Lord for a priest to guide him with knowledge and intelligence; to make him true face of the Church of Lord Jesus, for only if he is true Church he might carry out the Church’s evangelizing mission for the salvation of his brothers.
Another thing I have seen of this “Lay faithful”: she never freed herself from the mission of announcing and reminding the Gospel. She did it like the Apostle Paul:
From Miletus he had the presbyters of the church at Ephesus summoned. When they came to him, he addressed them, “You know how I lived among you the whole time from the day I first came to the province of Asia. I served the Lord with all humility and with the tears and trials that came to me because of the plots of the Jews, and I did not at all shrink from telling you what was for your benefit, or from teaching you in public or in your homes. I earnestly bore witness for both Jews and Greeks to repentance before God and to faith in our Lord Jesus. But now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem. What will happen to me there I do not know, except that in one city after another the holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me. Yet I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the gospel of God’s grace.
“But now I know that none of you to whom I preached the kingdom during my travels will ever see my face again. And so I solemnly declare to you this day that I am not responsible for the blood of any of you, for I did not shrink from proclaiming to you the entire plan of God. Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, 6 in which you tend the church of God that he acquired with his own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them. So be vigilant and remember that for three years, night and day, I unceasingly admonished each of you with tears” (At 20,17-31).
She has always done it in the persecution, in slander, in false testimonies, in beatings, in tumults, and in the infamous accusations.
To my shame I say that we were too weak! But what anyone dares to boast of (I am speaking in foolishness) I also dare. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I am talking like an insane person.) I am still more, with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, far worse beatings, and numerous brushes with death. Five times at the hands of the Jews I received forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I passed a night and a day on the deep; on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own race, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, dangers among false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many sleepless nights, through hunger and thirst, through frequent fastings, through cold and exposure. And apart from these things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is led to sin, and I am not indignant?
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus knows, he who is blessed forever, that I do not lie. At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas guarded the city of Damascus, in order to seize me, but I was lowered in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.
I must boast; not that it is profitable, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know someone in Christ who, fourteen years ago (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows), was caught up to the third heaven. And I know that this person (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows) was caught up into Paradise and heard ineffable things, which no one may utter. About this person I will boast, but about myself I will not boast, except about my weaknesses. Although if I should wish to boast, I would not be foolish, for I would be telling the truth. But I refrain, so that no one may think more of me than what he sees in me or hears from me because of the abundance of the revelations.
Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
I have been foolish. You compelled me, for I ought to have been commended by you. For I am in no way inferior to these “superapostles,” even though I am nothing. The signs of an apostle were performed among you with all endurance, signs and wonders, and mighty deeds. In what way were you less privileged than the rest of the churches, except that on my part I did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong!” (2Cor 11,21-12,13).
Never was this “Lay faithful” ashamed to witness Christ the Lord in front of young and old, learned and ignorant, wise and intelligent for the things of this world. She has always humbled herself before all her persecutors, even asking pardon and forgiveness if in anything she had offended them. She sometimes also made very long journeys to bring the word of forgiveness and reconciliation. Her journey has often been in vain. The hearts were deaf.
What Saint Paul said of himself can be said of her.
I am grateful to God, whom I worship with a clear conscience as my ancestors did, as I remember you constantly in my prayers, night and day. I yearn to see you again, recalling your tears, so that I may be filled with joy, as I recall your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and that I am confident lives also in you.
For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, 6 nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God. He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began, but now made manifest through the appearance of our savior Christ Jesus, who destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed preacher and apostle and teacher.
On this account I am suffering these things; but I am not ashamed, for I know him in whom I have believed and am confident that he is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day. Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard this rich trust with the help of the holy Spirit that dwells within us. (2Tm1.3-14).
Many people wished they could, many still wish they can shut this light off. But they cannot. The Lord watches over her: “A light will envelop you and nobody can ever destroy it.” They thought and are thinking about ten thousand falsehood and slanders every day. Her every word and action are interpreted according to the most wicked of lies. But nobody ever might turn this light off. The Word of Jesus is based on his omnipotence and even the devils of hell can never overcome Jesus. This story of suffering that comes from people of the Church and the world must always be remembered. Only the naive and those who do not know the power of evil can think, believe, and imagine that the work of God is not opposed, contrasted, vilified, denigrated, humiliated, and fought with every weapon of evil.
The seventy (-two) returned rejoicing, and said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.” Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. Behold, I have given you the power ‘to tread upon serpents’ and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” (Lk 10,17-20).
That is how the power of evil is described by the Apostle John in Revelation:
Then the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star 2 that had fallen from the sky to the earth. It was given the key for the passage to the abyss. It opened the passage to the abyss, and smoke came up out of the passage like smoke from a huge furnace. The sun and the air were darkened by the smoke from the passage. Locusts came out of the smoke onto the land, and they were given the same power as scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or any tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were not allowed to kill them but only to torment them for five months; the torment they inflicted was like that of a scorpion when it stings a person. During that time these people will seek death but will not find it, and they will long to die but death will escape them.
The appearance of the locusts was like that of horses ready for battle. On their heads they wore what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces, and they had hair like women’s hair. Their teeth were like lions’ teeth, and they had chests like iron breastplates. The sound of their wings was like the sound of many horse-drawn chariots racing into battle. They had tails like scorpions, with stingers; with their tails they had power to harm people for five months. They had as their king the angel of the abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon and in Greek Apollyon.(Rev 9,1-11).
Friends, this is the power of your evangelization: creating in the hearts the true Heavenly Father, the true Lord Christ, the true Holy Spirit, the true Church, the true communion, the true hope, the true faith, the true charity, true mercy, the true forgiveness, the true reconciliation, the true Christian community, and the true human brotherhood.
I know that in many of you Christ was created. I also know that in many he did not develop, did not grow, did not mature in that fullness of grace and truth, discipleship, and mission yet, God expects every day from all those who said yes to the Virgin Mary, Mother of Redemption; and committed themselves to remind and announce the Gospel, not only with words but with a clear, obvious, overwhelming testimony of life.
The example has been given you. We all know that Jesus Christ must be witnessed with the power of the Holy Spirit, with a convinced faith, with firmness and fortitude in the forefront, always ready to give reason for the hope that is in us.
That is how Saint Peter teaches the spiritual growth to the Christian:
Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, insincerity, envy, and all slander; like newborn infants, long for pure spiritual milk so that through it you may grow into salvation, for you have tasted that the Lord is good. Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built 4 into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it says in scripture: “Behold, I am laying a stone in Zion, a cornerstone, chosen and precious, and whoever believes in it shall not be put to shame.” Therefore, its value is for you who have faith, but for those without faith: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone that will make people stumble, and a rock that will make them fall.”
They stumble by disobeying the word, as is their destiny. But you are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises” of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were “no people” but now you are God’s people; you “had not received mercy” but now you have received mercy.
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and sojourners to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against the soul. Maintain good conduct among the Gentiles, so that if they speak of you as evildoers, they may observe your good works and glorify God on the day of visitation. Be subject to every human institution for the Lord’s sake, whether it be to the king as supreme or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the approval of those who do good. For it is the will of God that by doing good you may silence the ignorance of foolish people. Be free, yet without using freedom as a pretext for evil, but as slaves of God. Give honor to all, love the community, fear God, honor the king.
Slaves, be subject to your masters with all reverence, not only to those who are good and equitable but also to those who are perverse. For whenever anyone bears the pain of unjust suffering because of consciousness of God, that is a grace. But what credit is there if you are patient when beaten for doing wrong? But if you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When he was insulted, he returned no insult; when he suffered, he did not threaten; instead, he handed himself over to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you had gone astray like sheep, but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls. (1Pt 2,1-25).
Finally, all of you, be of one mind, sympathetic, loving toward one another, compassionate, humble. Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult; but, on the contrary, a blessing, because to this you were called, that you might inherit a blessing. For: “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep the tongue from evil and the lips from speaking deceit, must turn from evil and do good, seek peace and follow after it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears turned to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against evildoers.”
Now who is going to harm you if you are enthusiastic for what is good? But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit. In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water. This prefigured baptism, which saves you now. It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him (1Pt 3,8-22).
Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same attitude (for whoever suffers in the flesh has broken with sin), so as not to spend what remains of one’s life in the flesh on human desires, but on the will of God. For the time that has passed is sufficient for doing what the Gentiles like to do: living in debauchery, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and wanton idolatry. They are surprised that you do not plunge into the same swamp of profligacy, and they vilify you; but they will give an account to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to the dead that, though condemned in the flesh in human estimation, they might live in the spirit in the estimation of God.
The end of all things is at hand. Therefore, be serious and sober for prayers. Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace. Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God; whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1Pt 4,1-11).
Now it is only a matter of making God live in fullness of holy life, so that not only you can create him in others, but also that others can see him alive, present, working, day after day in your life, and through your body .
In God one believes by sight, not by science, not by theology, not by catechesis, not by preaching, and not by indoctrination. The scientific way helps the faith, but does not create it in the hearts.
Faith is born in a heart through the work of the Holy Spirit and your holiness is the vehicle that allows the Spirit of the Lord to enter into every heart.
Without holiness, the Spirit of God is absent. He is not in you. You cannot give him. Faith is not born. Without the Spirit of God a friendship can start, but this is not Christian, it is not in Christ; it is simply human, because it is outside of the seed of faith, and far from redeeming, saving, and converting grace.
One does not believe in Christ through studying, one believes because he can touch, can see, and can personally listen to him, just as the Apostle John teaches us.
What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life – for the life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us – what we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.
Now this is the message that we have heard from him and proclaim to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” while we continue to walk in darkness, we lie and do not act in truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.
If we say, “We are without sin,” we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1Gv 1,1-10).
In the Church one does not believe for the elaboration of new doctrines on her or of new pastoral plans that are being invented every day, because the old patterns have had no desired results.
Our pastoral plans are like the wages of the prophet Haggai.
Thus says the Lord of hosts: This people says: “Not now has the time come to rebuild the house of the Lord.” (Then this word of the Lord came through Haggai, the prophet:) Is it time for you to dwell in your own paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways! You have sown much, but have brought in little; you have eaten, but have not been satisfied; You have drunk, but have not been exhilarated; have clothed yourselves, but not been warmed; And he who earned wages earned them for a bag with holes in it. Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways! Go up into the hill country; bring timber, and build the house That I may take pleasure in it and receive my glory, says the Lord. You expected much, but it came to little; and what you brought home, I blew away. For what cause? says the Lord of hosts. Because my house lies in ruins, while each of you hurries to his own house. Therefore the heavens withheld from you their dew, and the earth her crops. And I called for a drought upon the land and upon the mountains; Upon the grain, and upon the wine, and upon the oil, and upon all that the ground brings forth; Upon men and upon beasts, and upon all that is produced by hand” (Hag 1,2-11).
But now, consider from this day forward. Before there was a stone laid upon a stone in the temple of the Lord, how did you fare? When one went to a heap of grain for twenty measures, it would yield but ten; When another went to the vat to draw fifty measures, there would be but twenty. I struck you in all the works of your hands with blight, searing wind, and hail, yet you did not return to me, says the Lord. (Consider from this day forward: from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month. From the day on which the temple of the Lord was founded, consider!) Indeed, the seed has not sprouted, nor have the vine, the fig, the pomegranate and the olive tree yet borne. From this day, I will bless!” (Hag 2,15-19).
In the Church one believes because he experiments the truth of the new life, because he sees the body of Christ, because man is loved, not exploited, not humiliated, not abused in her, and not enslaved to a power that we call sacred; while sometimes, in fact, it is more pagan than the worst pagan power that is exercised on earth. We believe in her because as Jesus everyone lives of service, starting from the last place, in obedience to God until death by a cross.
If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but (also) everyone for those of others.
Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work. Do everything without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world, as you hold on to the word of life, so that my boast for the day of Christ may be that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. But, even if I am poured out as a libation upon the sacrificial service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with all of you. In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me” (Phil 2,1-18).
If in the Church one believed for the elaboration of new theories on her; by now, the world would all be believing. Every day new documents come up; unfortunately, faith is not born in the Church, rather it fades. They turn away from her, because the immediate point of meeting with the Church is the disciple of Jesus. It is you, the lay faithful, if you are faithful lay persons. It is we, faithful priests, if we are priests, faithful to God in order to be faithful to the Church.
A document, a doctrine, a program can never replace man. Man is the instrument, the way, the vehicle, the chariot of the Holy Spirit. We think programs increasingly rich, sometimes also exhausting, but we almost always forget man. We draw up plans, but without man. We want to achieve things. But without man.
On the contrary, the Holy Spirit takes a very humble servant who does not even know who God is according to the fullness of the revealed truth, he lets himself be transported by her pure and uncontaminated heart, and salvation rises in many hearts. Truly the Lord humbles the proud and exalts the humble as instruments of his reign on our earth.
They do not believe in the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Redemption, because they make a “Marian Convention” with the most learned, enlightened professors of the century. It is believed because they make her visible in her maternal love and her unconditional faith in the Word of God, in her yes offered to the Eternal Father, in her being a cart and vehicle of the Holy Spirit, so that we let ourselves be fertilized with Christ like her and like her we are going to give him to the whole world.
All this must be done without shame, without any human respect, without fear of men, without being afraid of losing the life.
Today, shame is one of the most serious causes for not adhering to the Gospel. One does not choose to side with the Gospel for fear of men. He does not choose to side with the people God has chosen for fear of losing the glory of men.
Although he had performed so many signs in their presence they did not believe in him, in order that the word which Isaiah the prophet spoke might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed our preaching, to whom has the might of the Lord been revealed?” For this reason they could not believe, because again Isaiah said: “He blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, so that they might not see with their eyes and understand with their heart and be converted, and I would heal them.” Isaiah said this because he saw his glory 22 and spoke about him. Nevertheless, many, even among the authorities, believed in him, but because of the Pharisees they did not acknowledge it openly in order not to be expelled from the synagogue. For they preferred human praise to the glory of God (Jn 12,37-43).
This “Lay faithful” was not ashamed of Jesus Christ, of his Gospel. She lost all the glory of men. She also lost her name. She lived as an outcast. People are ashamed of her during the day and like Nicodemus they look for her at night, when nobody sees.
In such a condition, which Gospel are we preaching, which Word of God are we proclaiming, if the Word of God, his Gospel, require the total self denial? Imagine, then, the denial of the others. The whole world must disappear before the Gospel. For the Gospel, one must be prepared to lose everything, even his own ministry. Better the gospel without ministry, than the ministry without the Gospel.
The Gospel requires a free, meek, pure heart, ready to all suffering, all sacrifice, every denial, every abnegation, and every holocaust.
The Gospel demands martyrdom as soon as one welcomes it and decides to stand by its side.
The Gospel can be preached from the cross of our total denial.
However, in these long years, she has always thought about what the Book of Proverbs says:
Three things are too wonderful for me, yes, four I cannot understand: The way of an eagle in the air, the way of a serpent upon a rock, The way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a maiden. Such is the way of an adulterous woman: she eats, wipes her mouth, and says, “I have done no wrong.” Under three things the earth trembles, yes, under four it cannot bear up: Under a slave when he becomes king, and a fool when he is glutted with food; Under an odious woman when she is wed, and a maidservant when she displaces her mistress. (Pro 30,18-23).
I also cannot understand three things, or rather four:
An enemy of God that declares himself to be a builder of his kingdom. A destructor of the work of salvation that is declared a person in whose heart there is no deceit. A warmonger that is constituted mediator of peace. A man, called to give his life to witness the truth of the faith, that hides behind a diplomatic and devilish prudence, of true surrender to the enemies of the Gospel.
With this testimony I consider my life, and my mission complete. From this moment on I can elevate to the Lord the same prayer of Old Simeon:
“Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” (Lk 2,29-32).
I have seen neither the Lord, nor held him in my arms. I saw one of his humble servants who lived the Gospel in all his Word, announcing, reminding, preaching it to the whole world.
This suffices for me to say to all of you, friends of the Apostolic Movement: the Lord gave you the grace to see how the gospel is lived, how it is announced, how it is witnessed, how the evangelizing mission is carried out. Make a treasure of it. It is a grace that will not be repeated so easily with the same intensity of faith, hope, and charity.
The time has come and it is this in which the whole world is called upon to get possession of this mystery and make it go forward until the end of time.
The time for the Apostolic Movement to grow underground is over. Now, it is the time for it to develop in the open air and to ripen fruits of salvation for every man.
I thank His Excellency Monsignor Vincenzo Bertolone. The Most Excellent Bishops present in this room. The Most Reverend Priests, the venerable deacons, the Religious women and men, the Consecrated lay women, the Responsible persons and Secretaries of the Apostolic Movement, the representatives of other groups and movements, and all of you who wanted to participate to this VI National Convention.
I thank the President of the Apostolic Movement. I wish she can ferry this gift of God far, making it shine with an ever new and most true light.
To you, Most Reverend Monsignor DELGADO, I attest that the Apostolic Movement, has strong roots: it comes from the will of God, through the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Redemption. It has its roots firmly planted in the bosom of the Church. It lives, drawing its evangelizing strength from her heart; heart in which the heart of the Father, of the Son, of the Holy Spirit, and of the Virgin Mary live in a communion of prayer and supplication of the angels and saints.
Go back to Rome with a strong conviction, that does not fear any denial by history, either present, or future: The Apostolic Movement will be a great light for the Church tomorrow; for it, unlike any other movement, any other religious order or congregation, any other clerical or secular institute, has no peculiarity. It is the Church, lives the life of the Church, works as the Church, in the Church, for the Church.
Go back to Rome with a sure truth in your heart: the Lord has blessed this piece of land, making a small seed rise in it that tomorrow will be a big tree, a majestic tree which will give many fruits of conversion and holiness.
Go back to Rome with only one desire: wanting to thank the Lord that by mysterious ways somehow you became author of the future of this movement. The ways of the Lord are so arcane, unthinkable, and unimaginable. Never one of us might know them until he finds himself running through them.
Go back to Rome with a celestial thought in your mind: the Spirit of the Lord bursts in his Church, like, and when he wants; and he chooses humble creatures, before whom even the overbearing wisdom of theology must bow, because another wisdom, divine, higher, and eternal is before and no one might ever resist it.
I am concluding with the thought of Saint Paul:
Where is the wise one? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish? For since in the wisdom of God the world did not come to know God through wisdom, it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith. For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
Consider your own calling, brothers. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God. It is due to him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, as well as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord.” (1Cor 1,20-31).
My deepest thanks to all.
I have not forgotten the Inspiring – Founder of the Apostolic Movement. She does not need to be thanked. Her works are her one and only thanks.
Monsignor Costantino Di Bruno
Parish priest of Mary Immaculate Parish in St. Peter Lametino
Central Ecclesiastical Assistant of the Apostolic Movement
Catanzaro February 28, 2012