Address by His Eminence, the Most Reverend Stanislaw Cardinal Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, during the consignment of the Decree of Recognition of the Community Cenacolo.
Rome, October 16, 2009
I desire, first of all, to extend my kindest welcome to all of you, members of the Community Cenacolo, who are gathered here today from many different countries all over the world with your founder and President, to whom I extend a special welcome.
I am thankful for the presence this morning of His Excellency Bishop Giuseppe Guerrini, Bishop of Saluzzo, and of His Excellency Diego Natale Bona, Bishop Emeritus of Saluzzo, who granted recognition at the diocesan level to the Community Cenacolo in 1998.
You all have come to the Pontifical Council for the Laity to participate in the act of the consignment of the Decree of Recognition and of approval of the statutes of your community. It is, certainly, a very important moment for the life of the Community Cenacolo, as it also is for this Dicastery. With this act, the Apostolic See joyfully embraces to her heart a new aggregation of the faithful that aims towards the sanctification of its members, as well as the edification of the entire Church. At the same time, by means of this recognition, the faithful see confirmed by the Holy See the right to form communities in order to foster a more perfect Christian life and to develop activities of evangelization all over the world.
We have just listened to the moving parable of the Good Samaritan, which is found only in the Gospel of Saint Luke. Jesus, walking towards Jerusalem from Galilee, finds himself undertaking a discussion with a doctor of the Law. The Lord welcomes and praises the summary of the Law that the scribe makes, still He – knowing the heart of the man who is asking Him questions – wants to expand the horizons of this love that has been reduced to the mere observance of the rules. A neighbor is not just a person for whom we have some sort of affinity – of relationship, of race, or of religion – but also the one whom we find next to us, who has need of our help. Jesus widens the perspective until it embraces every human being, son, daughter, like every one of us, of the same God the Father.
The Lord clearly explains in what way we must love our neighbor, namely, having mercy on him, letting ourselves be moved by his spiritual and physical needs. Such behavior must be effective and concrete; they must manifest themselves in works of dedication and of service. Jesus, in fact, with this parable, teaches us that the fulfillment of the legal rules must never suffocate mercy. He truly is the incarnation of the mercy of the Father, for He already lives the same merciful actions of the Father. In the same way, we Christians, since we are His disciples, cannot “pass by” when we encounter the needs of the others; instead, we must have the same compassion and the same love that Christ has.
Following in the footsteps of other Holy Fathers, Saint Augustine identifies the Lord with the Good Samaritan and the man assailed by brigands with Adam, origin and figure of fallen humanity. Wounded and abandoned, the man is healed of his wounds by the Church. Saint Augustine writes this commentary:
O you, my soul, where do you feel yourself to be? Where do you lie? Where do you stand? Until all your infirmities be healed by Him who has forgiven all your iniquities. You perceive yourself assuredly to be in that inn whither that Samaritan brought him whom he found with many wounds inflicted by thieves, half-dead. (On The Trinity XV, 27, 50)
Dear friends of the Community Cenacolo! How can we not recognize in your Community, now present in many different places all over the world, that “inn” where the wounds of the soul and of the body of so many lost people, especially youth who had lost all sense of meaning in their lives and of the Fatherhood of God, are healed? You all are very conscious of the fact that the Community not only constitutes a favorable environment for recuperation and social assistance, which is also necessary, but is rather a place where one can seize the opportunity to know the love of God, through an incisive proposal of the Christian experience, that testifies the beauty of the faith, offering a personal encounter with Christ.
As our Holy Father Benedict XVI wrote, in his encyclical Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth):
A prosperous society, highly developed in material terms but weighing heavily on the soul, is not of itself conducive to authentic development. The new forms of slavery to drugs and the lack of hope into which so many people fall can be explained not only in sociological and psychological terms but also in essentially spiritual terms. The emptiness in which the soul feels abandoned, despite the availability of countless therapies for body and psyche, leads to suffering. There cannot be holistic development and universal common good unless people's spiritual and moral welfare is taken into account, considered in their totality as body and soul. (n. 76)
Allow me to propose to you all again these words of the Pope, pronounced during the homily of the Holy Mass at the beginning of the Petrine ministry of the Bishop of Rome:
We are living in alienation, in the salt waters of suffering and death, in a sea of darkness without light. The net of the Gospel pulls us out of the waters of death and brings us into the splendor of God’s light, into true life. It is really true: as we follow Christ in this mission to be fishers of men, we must bring men and women out of the sea that is salted with so many forms of alienation and onto the land of life, into the light of God. It is really so: the purpose of our lives is to reveal God to men. And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. (Benedict XVI, Homily, April 24 2005)
The charisma of the Community is certainly a walk for personal sanctification and, at the same time, greatly contributes to the achievement of this objective that the Holy Father proposes to us, to ransom the people who find themselves submerged in the waters of alienation of our times to lead them to true life, Life with a capital L, that stems from the encounter with our Risen Lord, to take them from the darkness to the Light.
In full respect of your ecclesiastical identity and of your apostolic way of life, it is necessary that you always work in the Church in full harmony with the Vicar of Christ and with the individual diocesan bishops, Shepherds of the local Churches.
I would also like to mention that this past July on the 16th you all celebrated the 26th anniversary of the foundation of the Community Cenacolo. I extend to you the best wishes of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and I desire to assure you that you will be constantly remembered in our prayers.
Today marks the beginning of a new stage in the history of the Community Cenacolo that brings you to a closer relationship with the Seat of Peter. The statutes that support the life of the association have been approved for an initial ad experimentum period of five years. After this period has passed, with the acquired experience, you will ask the Dicastery for the definitive approval.
I am certain that in your walk you will never lack the intercession of Our Lady in the generous service that you give to the Church.
May God bless you always!
Stanislaw Cardinal Rylko
President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity