On Jan. 4 in St. Peter's Square, Pope John Paul II met with 12,000 members of the Regnum Christi Movement and the Legionaries of Christ, including 37 newly-ordained priests.
He addressed the following words to them stressing themes close to his heart.
Dear Legionaries of Christ!
Dear members of the Regnum Christi Movement!
I am profoundly happy to greet you upon your jubilee pilgrimage to Rome, during which you are celebrating the 60th anniversary of your founding. You come from different nations of the world; I greet each and every one of you with the hope that this occasion will constitute a strong support for your faith in the Lord Jesus and your decision to bear witness to him before your brothers and sisters.
I extend a particularly affectionate greeting to your dear founder, Father Marcial Maciel, whom I heartily congratulate at this significant juncture. I warmly thank him for the words he has addressed to me in the name of all of you. I especially appreciate his express confirmation of the fidelity to the Successor of Peter that characterizes you. Your communion with the Pope attests to your full insertion into the mystery of the Church's unity.
Over the course of these days you have wished to give thanks to God for all the benefits he has poured out upon your spiritual family. Casting your eyes back to Jan. 3, 1941, when this work had its beginnings in Mexico City, you have noted how that small seed that the divine sower planted in the soil of a few young men's hearts has now become a flourishing tree (see Matthew 13:32) that is home to numerous priests, consecrated men and women, and lay people whose ideal is to give their lives for the extension of the Kingdom of Christ in the world.
You have come to Rome within the framework of the Jubilee Year to renew your faith in Jesus Christ. The Christ-centered character of your spirituality helps you penetrate more deeply into the meaning of this Jubilee, which has proposed the mystery of the Incarnation and the person of Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), as a subject for meditation. Announcing Christ to today's world throughout the various sectors of society is your apostolic ideal.
In order to preach Christ, however, it is necessary to profoundly experience his love like St. Paul, so as to say together with him, “The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
I encourage you, in keeping with your motto, “Your Kingdom Come!” never to let up in your enthusiasm for working tirelessly to make the Kingdom of love, grace, justice, and peace a reality in persons and in society. May one of the main fruits of this intense spiritual experience in Rome be the renewal in your souls of sincere love for Jesus Christ, so that you may bring many other men and women to share in the blessing of this unique friendship with him.
Faith in the person of Jesus Christ leads you to love the Church passionately as the universal sacrament of salvation and propagator of his work throughout history. Hence, you wish to nourish your spiritual and apostolic charism from the great well-spring of life that flows through his body through a special spirit of ecclesial communion with the Successor of Peter and the shepherds of local churches. With renewed zeal, continue spreading the magisterium and doctrine of the Church as you have up to now, both through the numerous projects begun among you over the course of your 60 years of life, and through the many others that your apostolic ardor will boldly initiate for the good of souls.
One of the important spiritual traits of your service in the Church is your commitment to the spirit of authentic Gospel charity. At the Last Supper the Lord stated clearly and for all time that fraternal love would be the distinctive feature of his followers:
“By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
It has been your desire to take up this Gospel challenge, placing particular emphasis on the fraternal warmth of your interpersonal relations, and furthering the spirit of charity in thought and word, passing over in silence the errors of others and bringing up only those deeds of theirs which are positive and helpful. May the Lord preserve you in this spirit, helping you to bear witness in every way to that Christian charity which St. Paul so masterfully described in the famous hymn to love found in his First Letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
Another trait which distinguishes your charism is apostolic fervor. You show this in all the many works you have undertaken, especially in education, evangelization, social communications, the spreading of the Church's social teaching, the cultural and human promotion of the disadvantaged, and the training of diocesan priests.
In all of this you strive to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit, who constantly renews the face of the Church with gifts and charisms which enrich and strengthen it. In a secularized world such as our own, built in large part on neglect of transcendent truths and values, the faith of many of our brothers and sisters is sorely tried.
Because of this, there is a need today more than ever for a confident proclamation of the Gospel, which, casting aside all crippling fears, announces with intellectual depth and with courage the truth about God, about man, about the world.
To you, Legionaries of Christ and members of Regnum Christi, I repeat the words of St. Catherine of Siena which I proposed to the young people at the World Youth Day: “If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire!”
Generously open the doors of your spirits to this invitation. I now speak in particular to those whom Christ calls to follow him with total dedication in the priesthood and consecrated life. May the Blessed Virgin, the pilgrim in faith full of the Holy Spirit, help you to fulfill your resolutions.
As you return to your homes and your daily activities, know that the Pope is with you and is praying for you, that you may be faithful to your Christian vocation and your specific charism. May the Holy Spirit expand your hearts, making you courageous messengers of the Gospel and witnesses to the Risen Christ, the Redeemer and Savior of the world.
I affectionately bless you all!
Translated by Matthew Williams