Reflection By Pope Francis on Holy Church ‘Soul Institute’

Last year Pope Francis attended a charismatic event in Rome’s Olympic stadium. Among many gens Pope Francis said to crowd of fifty-two thousand people from 55 countries, ” Allow God to be God, he said. “Never lose the freedom that the Holy Spirit gives us,” and guard against “the danger of ‘excessive organization.’’ He recognized the need for organization, but not to lose the grace of letting God be God!” He also warned them of the danger of becoming “controllers” of God’s grace, administrators who decide who may or may not receive the prayer of effusion or baptism in the Spirit. “If any of you do this, I beg you, do not anymore. You are dispensers of God’s grace, not controllers!” Instructing on how to do so, he said “seek unity in renewal because unity comes from the Holy Spirit,” and “flee” from internal struggle and division, which instead come from the Devil.”

We need the Holy Spirit in the Church. Pope Benedict said about the Second Vatican Council, “That we were giving the Holy Spirit center stage.” The Holy Spirit knows how to renew the Church. We have to surrender and admit that the Holy Spirit has an infinitely better plan for the Church than we have. Again to quote Pope Francis, ” Don’t become controller of God’s grace, administrators who decide who may or may not receive the prayer of effusion or baptism in the Spirit.” 

When we look at icons of Pentecost from the Church in Africa we see the disciples full of energy and life. This is in contract to so many icons of  Pentecost in the Latin Church where we see the disciples with Mary on there knees in prayer. Boths icons reflects an element of the truth of Pentecost, but the icons of Pentecost from Africa reflects a bit more the reality of Pentecost after the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples. 

One author said the grace that the charismatic renewal has given the Church is giving the power back to God. We must, “guard against the danger of excessive organization but not to lose the grace of letting God be God.” Pope Francis said to the crowd, “Yes, you need organization, but do not lose the grace of letting God be God!” Francis also said, “However, there is no greater freedom than that of letting oneself be carried by the Spirit, refusing to calculate and to control everything, and allow Him to illuminate you, lead you, guide you, and push you where He wishes. He knows well what the need is in every age and moment. This calls to be mysteriously fruitful!” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 280).

The charismatic renewal is not just one movement among many in the Church. It is meant to be a current of energy for the entire Church; to remind the Church that She lives by the Holy Spirit. It is not by accident that we pray in the Creed, “I believe in the Holy Spirit the Lord and giver of Life.” We say this about the Holy Spirit right before we pray in the creed, “I believe in the Holy Catholic Church.” The great theologian Hugo Rahner says, “We believe in the Church only because we first believe in the Holy Spirit.” Rahner says, “We don’t believe in the Church in the same sense we believe in the Holy Spirit.” We believe in the Holy Spirit in a perfect sense.The Church is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. In the early writing of the Church the Church is depicted as a tower on water. This is am image that the Church lives by the grace of God.

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