Pope Francis has encouraged members of an international apostolic movement to promote communion with others and continue their missionary work in the spirit of early day pilgrims.
In a May 28 address to some 2,400 members of the Cursillos de Cristianidad of Italy, the pope emphasized the importance of going “beyond oneself and beyond one’s own group to form community and grow in the Church.”
The Cursillos de Cristianidad is a worldwide movement and lay tradition that offers three-day courses (cursillos) in transforming one’s inner self and experiencing God and others.
Founded in 1944 in Spain as a means to teach men and women how to become effective Christian leaders in their neighborhoods, parishes, at work, and other locations where people live, the movement was officially recognized by Pope Paul VI, the predecessor of Pope John Paul II, who designated the Cursillos as a renewal movement of the Catholic Church.
Francis was speaking on the occasion of the seventh national gathering of the Cursillos de Cristianidad of Italy, an annual get-together called an Ultreya. Ultreya is a Spanish word that means “onward.” Pilgrims in Spain historically used ultreya as a greeting to encourage each other to go “further” or “beyond” their perceived limits.
“[T]o go toward communion is to go beyond oneself and beyond one’s own group to form community and grow in the church,” Francis said, referring to one of the two directions in which he said the Cursillos de Cristianidad ought to go, the other one being evangelizing.
The Catholic Church has always been “a body and never a grouping of separate and divided parts,” he said. “Never isolate yourself, and never lock yourself up. Always preserve and increase the vital links with the places of communion in which we live.”
“The great challenge is to maintain a spirit of charity and unity that is based on the spiritual heritage accepted by all, lived out and shared by everybody, understood by and entrusted to all.”
Referring to the Christian sacrament of mission, the pope told members of the audience that they have been blessed with “charism”—an extraordinary power given to Christians by the Holy Spirit for the good of the church.
That strength, the pontiff said, “has led you to rediscover and to be able to announce in a simple and direct way the essential of the Christian experience, that is, the love of God for every man and woman.”
Francis encouraged the cursillos to let the power of charism enable them “to experience the joy of evangelizing, in all areas of life, private and public,” while at the same time reaching out to those distant from the church.
The pope exhorted members of his audience to always be on the go, evangelizing, remarking that even leading members of the movement ought to adopt this peripatetic practice.
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