I give up and I give in! The phrase goes against some of my most cherished principles. When I was a child, my mother would often recite a poem that ended with the verse that loosely translated says “give yourself a break, but never give up”. But now, I have no choice but to yield to undeniable, overwhelming evidence and simply give up and give in.
God is all-knowing, all-just, all-powerful and all-loving. He holds the reins of history and of our personal lives, guiding each of us to the fulfillment of his loving plan of salvation. It’s not easy to say, but I realize it’s time to give in, to accept that neither our brightest ideas nor our loftiest human hopes will shed light on our path. Only God’s Providence can do this.
For these past three years, I’ve been complaining to God, struggling with his silence like the psalmist: “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Ps 10:1)
God’s path for the Legion and Regnum Christi has been neither understandable nor appealing. The suffering has been immeasurable. The breakdown of trust has damaged many. The natural human reaction is to run away and to look for other opportunities.
However, the spiritual family of Regnum Christi and the Legion is not just hanging on, but growing. It is blessed with faith-filled and generous young men and women following Christ’s call. This year, twenty-one candidates will join our novitiates in North America. Twenty-three young men are entering different apostolic schools. Eighteen girls now form part of the discernment program in Oxford, Michigan and twelve young women will join Mater Ecclesiae.
As well, visiting our Legionary communities, I see a new-found peace and enthusiasm in following Christ. They have rekindled the zeal to go out and share in the mission of the New Evangelization in North America, discovering the beauty of our foundational charism.
We have learned a lot over the past few years and have made strides in our service to the local churches, while fostering our charism. We have been offered and have accepted opportunities to serve in parishes in New York, Atlanta, Montreal and Hamilton, Ontario. Consecrated men and women of Regnum Christi are working in parishes as youth ministers and directors of Religious Education. A consecrated woman is serving in a formation team of a seminary and a Legionary as spiritual director in another diocesan seminary. There are myriads of examples of greater understanding and collaboration between Regnum Christi and the dioceses.
Our process of renewal and reform continues and we will soon begin a broad discussion with lay members in the quest to express the core of the charism we share and cherish as one spiritual family.
Lay members of Regnum Christi give me and our priests a lesson in enthusiasm, resolve and dedication. They want to serve their church, bishops and pastors by sharing the gift they have received as part of this great movement of the New Evangelization. As Pope Benedict reminded us in his words to the American bishops on their ad limina visit : The preparation of committed lay leaders and the presentation of a convincing articulation of the Christian vision of man and society remain a primary task of the Church in your country. (January 9th, 2012)
Why does the Pope underline this preparation? The current cultural trends, as pointed out by Pope Benedict in this discourse, threaten the Christian faith and, ultimately, humanity itself. But the Church’s committed members bring a new promise: in faith we can take heart from… the promise offered by a new generation of Catholics whose experience and convictions will have a decisive role in renewing the Church’s presence and witness in American society.
The New Evangelization requires commitment and effort. I am certain that these times will be remembered as a turning point in the life of the Church. As history tells us, the difficult and scandalous 10th century, when corruption was the order of the day, gave way to the reform lead by monasteries like Cluny. Then the great saints Bernard, Francis, Dominic and Catherine led their world to a deep evangelical transformation that lasted several centuries. Another great moment of renewal of spirituality, formation of priests, discipline and liturgy took place after the Reformation in the 16th century with St. Theresa, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Charles Borromeo and many others.
Today, we have incredible witnesses of Christian faith like Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa of Calcutta, saints that we have seen and met. We are in great company for announcing the Good News to our world!
We all want to be part of God’s present undertaking, but at times we are enslaved by our fears. We tremble when called by the Holy Spirit to row out into the deep, leaving behind the security of own well-known shores. We forget that belonging to God is simple and safe. “Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away and gives everything”, as Pope Benedict XVI said in the mass for the inauguration of his Pontificate. Belonging to God, remaining in his love, means letting Christ act in us through prayer and his sacraments, forgetting what lies in the past, and stretching out to what lies ahead, (Phil 3:13) move forward to establish the Kingdom of Christ in the world with enthusiasm. And the word enthusiasm in its origin is precisely “en-Theos”, filled with God.
God is patiently teaching me to GIVE UP my doubts, fears, complaints and my fighting against him. I am slowly learning to GIVE IN to his wisdom, power and loving providence so HE can act in my life and in the life of the Legion and Regnum Christi. A beautiful dawn is breaking for us. We all can be the saints and apostles that the New Evangelization needs: GIVE UP the fears and GIVE IN to God’s loving Providence and power.