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7) Charisms - Diversity & Unity

Catechesis by Pope Francis on the Church (8th of 16)
General Audience, Wednesday 1 October 2014 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,
From the very beginning, the Lord has showered the Church with the gifts of his Spirit, thereby rendering her always vigorous and fruitful with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Among these gifts, some can be identified as especially precious for the edification of and for the journey of the Christian community: these are called charisms. In this catechesis we want to ask ourselves: what exactly is a charism? How can we recognize it and embrace it? And most of all: should the fact that there is a diversity and a multiplicity of charisms in the Church be seen in a positive sense, as a good thing, or as a problem?

In common parlance, when a “charism” is spoken of, it often means a talent, a natural ability. One says: “This person has a special charism to teach. It is a talent he or she has”. Thus, it is often said, regarding an especially bright and engaging person: “He or she is a charismatic person”. “What does this mean?”. “I don’t know, but he is charismatic”. And we say this. We don’t know what we are saying, but we say: “He is charismatic”. In the Christian perspective, however, a charism is much more than a personal quality, a predisposition that one can be endowed with: a charism is a grace, a gift bestowed by God the Father, through the action of the Holy Spirit. And it is a gift which is given to someone not because he is better than others or because he deserves it: it is a gift that God gives him, because with his freely given love he can place him in service to the entire community, for the good of all. Speaking in a rather more human way, one says: “God gives this quality, this charism to this person, not for himself, but in order that he may put it at the service of the whole community”. Today before arriving in the Square, I received many disabled children in the Paul VI Hall. There were so many of them belonging to an association that is dedicated to caring for these children. What is it? This association, these people, these men and these women, have a charism to care for disabled children. This is a charism!

An important thing that should be highlighted immediately is the fact that alone, one cannot understand whether one has a charism, and which one. Many times we have heard someone say: “I have this quality, I can sing really well”. And no one has the courage to say: “It’s better to keep quiet, because you torture all of us when you sing!”. No one can say: “I have this charism”. It is within the community that the gifts the Father showers upon us bloom and flourish; and it is in the bosom of the community that one learns to recognize them as a sign of his love for all his children. So, each one of us should ask him/herself: “Is there a charism that the Lord has endowed me with, by the grace of his Spirit, and that my brothers and sisters in the Christian community have recognized and encouraged? And how do I act with regard to this gift: do I use it with generosity, placing it at the service of everyone, or do I overlook it and end up forgetting about it? Or perhaps it becomes a reason for pride in me, such that I always complain about others and insist on getting my way in the community? These are questions that we must ask ourselves: if there is a charism in me, if this charism is recognized by the Church, if I am happy with this charism or am I a bit jealous of the charisms of others, whether I wanted or I want to have that charism. A charism is a gift: God alone bestows it!

The most beautiful experience, though, is the discovery of all the different charisms and all the gifts of his Spirit that the Father showers on his Church! This must not be seen as a reason for confusion, for discomfort: they are all gifts that God gives to the Christian community, in order that it may grow in harmony, in the faith and in his love, as one body, the Body of Christ. The same Spirit who bestows this diversity of charisms unites the Church. It is always the same Spirit. Before this multitude of charisms, our heart, therefore, must open itself to joy and we must think: “What a beautiful thing! So many different gifts, because we are all God’s children, all loved in a unique way”. Never must these gifts become reasons for envy, or for division, for jealousy! As the Apostle Paul recalls in Chapter 12 of his First Letter to the Corinthians, all charisms are important in the eyes of God. At the same time, no one is irreplaceable. That is to say that within the Christian community, we need one another, and each gift received is fully realized when it is shared with one’s brothers and sisters, for the good of all. This is the Church! And when the Church, in the variety of her charisms, is expressed in communion, she cannot be mistaken: it is the beauty and the power of the sensus fidei, of that supernatural sense of faith which is bestowed by the Holy Spirit in order that, together, we may all enter the heart of the Gospel and learn to follow Jesus in our life.

Today the Church is celebrating the Feast of St Teresa of the Child Jesus. This Saint, who died at the age of 24, loved the Church so much that she wanted to be a missionary, and said: “I would like to do this, this and this”, she wanted all the charisms. She prayed, and she felt that her charism was love. And she said this beautiful phrase: “In the heart of the Church I will be love”. And we all have this charism: the capacity to love. Today let us ask St Teresa of the Child Jesus for this capacity to love the Church so much, to love her so much, and to embrace all those charisms with this love of the children of the Church, of our Holy, Hierarchical Mother Church."


"Soyez les bienvenus, chers pèlerins de langue française, en particulier les personnes venues de France, de Belgique, du Cameroun et de Côte d’Ivoire. Je demande à Dieu que vous puissiez reconnaître tous les charismes que le Saint Esprit suscite dans vos communautés, et que vous sachiez les accueillir mutuellement et les faire grandir dans l’amour fraternel. Bon pèlerinage, et que Dieu vous bénisse !

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, including the various groups from Australia, South Africa, Namibia, Japan, Taiwan, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, England, Scotland and the United States. In a particular way I greet the deacon ordinands of the Pontifical North American College, together with their families and friends. Upon all of you I invoke joy and peace in the Lord Jesus. God bless you!

Mit Freude heiße ich die Gläubigen deutscher Sprache willkommen, die zu dieser Audienz gekommen sind. Besonders grüße ich die Mitglieder des Domkapitels aus dem Bistum Augsburg in Begleitung von Bischof Konrad Zdarsa sowie die Mitarbeiter des Bischöflichen Generalvikariats aus dem Bistum Osnabrück mit Bischof Franz-Josef Bode. Am Beginn des Rosenkranzmonats Oktober lade ich euch ein, mit den Augen Marias den Weg und das Wirken Christi zu betrachten. Betet den Rosenkranz und begleitet so die Arbeit der Synode für die Familie. Ich wünsche euch einen guten Aufenthalt in Rom. Gott segne euch alle.

Saludo a los peregrinos de lengua española, venidos de tantos países. Saludo asimismo a Monseñor Javier Echevarría, Prelado del Opus Dei, así como a los fieles de la Prelatura aquí presentes para dar gracias a Dios por la beatificación de Monseñor Álvaro del Portillo. Que la intercesión y el ejemplo del nuevo beato les ayude a responder con generosidad al llamado de Dios a la santidad y al apostolado en la vida ordinaria, al servicio de la Iglesia y de la humanidad entera. Muchas gracias y que Dios los bendiga.

Amados peregrinos de língua portuguesa, saúdo-vos cordialmente a todos, com menção especial para os brasileiros presentes e para os membros da Associação Cristã de Empresários e Gestores, de Portugal. Agradeço a vossa presença e convido-vos a continuar a dar o vosso fiel testemunho cristão na sociedade. Deixai-vos guiar pelo Espírito Santo, para entenderdes o verdadeiro sentido da história. De bom grado abençoo a vós e aos vossos entes queridos, encorajando-vos na reza do terço ao anoitecer de cada dia!

أُرحّبُ بالحجّاجِ الناطقينَ باللغةِ العربية، وخاصةً بالقادمينَ منالشرق الأوسط. أيها الإخوةُ والأخواتُ الأعزاء، لنَعش بسخاءٍ المواهبَ التي يمنحُنا الله إيَّاها واضعينَ أنفُسَنا في خدمةِ بعضِنا البعض بحَسبِ الخدماتِ والأعمالِ التي دُعينا إليها. ليبارككُم الرب!

Serdecznie pozdrawiam wszystkich polskich pielgrzymów, a szczególnie członków wspólnoty „Betania” z Jaworzna. Na początku tego miesiąca, poświęconego rozważaniu życia Maryi i Jej Syna w tajemnicach różańca, zapraszam was wszystkich do modlitwy w intencjach Kościoła, zwłaszcza w intencjach Synodu Biskupów poświęconego rodzinie. Módlcie się także za mnie! Matka Najświętsza niech was strzeże i wyprasza łaski Pana. Niech Bóg wam błogosławi!

Ód srca pózdravljam i blagóslivljam sve hrvatske hodočásnike, a ósobito vjérnike žūpe svétoga Márka iz Mákarske u Hrvatskoj te článove Hrvatske kátoličke zájednice Main-Taunus/Hochtaunus iz Kelkheima. Drági príjatelji, čúvajte žívim plámen vjére, úpaljen na dánu vášega kršténja i podŕžavan prímjerima svétih múčenika, káko bi i drúgi vídjeli rádost vášega živóta u Krístu. Hváljen Ísus i Márija!

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Cari pellegrini di lingua italiana: benvenuti! Sono lieto di accogliere i numerosi pellegrini dell’Opus Dei, accompagnati dal Prelato Mons. Javier Echevarría, qui convenuti in occasione della Beatificazione di Mons. Álvaro Del Portillo, e li esorto, sull’esempio del nuovo Beato, a perseguire sempre la meta della santità nel proprio stato di vita, con fedeltà a Cristo e al Vangelo. Saluto i fedeli di Aosta, con il loro Pastore, Mons. Franco Lovignana e quelli di Belluno-Feltre, con il Vescovo Mons. Giuseppe Andrich. Saluto i sacerdoti dei Pontifici Collegi Internazionali San Paolo e Mater Ecclesiae, invitandoli a vivere sempre il loro apostolato in comunione con la Chiesa e con atteggiamento missionario.

Un pensiero speciale rivolgo infine ai giovani, agli ammalati e agli sposi novelli. Oggi è la memoria liturgica di Santa Teresa di Gesù Bambino, patrona delle missioni. Cari giovani, il suo amore per la Chiesa sia un insegnamento per la vostra vita spirituale; cari ammalati, la preghiera sia lo strumento per affrontare i momenti più difficili, come è stata la preghiera per questa Santa; e voi, cari sposi novelli, fondate sul rispetto e sulla fedeltà reciproca la vostra casa coniugale."

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