Witnesses of the Holy Spirit Share Experiences

International Congress Held in Italy

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LUCCA, Italy, OCT. 7, 2005 (Zenit.org)- History unfolds through the action of the Holy Spirit, which inspires and nourishes heroism in Christians, said several leaders of ecclesial movements at an international conference.



The congress, which attracted cardinals, bishops, and personal secretaries of the last four Popes, as well as founders and representatives of Catholic movements and associations, promoted a spiritual rereading of the last century.

The theme of the congress, which ended Sunday, was "The Signs of the Spirit in the 20th Century. A Historical Rereading: The Witnesses' Account."

In a message sent to the conference in Lucca, Jesús Carrascosa, director of the International Center of Communion and Liberation, quoted texts from a speech given in 1988 at the 21st Meeting of Renewal in the Spirit by Monsignor Luigi Giussani, founder of the movement. He died last February.

"The people of our time hope to find persons for whom Christ is a present reality that changes them, so that all enmity is transformed into friendship, and every circumstance is good," wrote Monsignor Giussani.

The founder continued: "As 2,000 years ago, also today the Holy Spirit communicates in the world through persons, he chooses them and seizes them to dilate the presence of Christ in time and space.

"They are persons whose testimony is more pedagogic, more convincing, so the realization of baptism is incarnated in the temperament and history of the one touched by the Holy Spirit."

According to Carrascosa, "these few lines affirm the certainty of having been seized personally and singularly by Christ and of being called in a unitary group, in a company made up of the Spirit and bearer of salvation for the whole of humanity."

One love

Father Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi movement, also offered his witness, in a message delivered by Father Álvaro Corcuera, director general of the Legionaries.

Father Maciel, referring to the persecution of the "Cristeros" that he witnessed in Mexico, wrote: "Already in those moments, and even more with the passing of time, I wondered what motivation impelled these men and women to leave everything, even life, at times in such a bloody manner."

"The answer I found in my heart was always the same: 'love for Christ.' Christ Our Lord was for them a living person, whom they loved with all their heart and for whom they were prepared to lose everything, so long as they did not lose that which gave meaning to everything, which for them was Jesus Christ."

For the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, the supernatural force that enabled those Christians to face the most dreadful dangers and suffer the worst torments is found "in the action of the Holy Spirit," "the same strength that sustained the apostles when they had to witness to Christ after Pentecost, and which transformed those frightened men -- who shut themselves in the Cenacle for fear of the Jews -- into intrepid announcers of the Gospel."

"To let one self by guided by the Holy Spirit," he said, "is none other than to let oneself be penetrated by the charity of God toward the whole of humanity. It means to live in fullness the new commandment of the Lord and to give witness of mutual love to the point of giving one's life for the beloved."

An ideal

Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement, spoke on how she became an instrument of the Holy Spirit.

"When God takes a creature in his hand to make some work arise in the Church, the person knows not what he will have to do. He is an instrument and this, I think, might be my case," she said.

From the beginning and during the 60 years of the Focolare Movement, "I had no program, I knew nothing. The idea of the work was in God, the plan in heaven," she added.

She also recalled that she had been tormented at times by an idea during World War II: "Is there an ideal that does not die, that no bomb can destroy, to which we can give ourselves wholly?"

She said she found the answer: "Yes, God."

Since then, the Focolare Movement developed "under the impulse of the Holy Spirit," and according to "a precise plan of God always unknown to us, but that is unveiled from time to time," she said.

"But who has caused the movement's worldwide expansion?" she asked. "Christ present in his members, because of the unity among them and through the Eucharist. And with him, Mary was always considered our mother, teacher, model, guide.

"But has God's plan for this movement ended? Experience teaches that we shall see new things."