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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Cardinal Franc Rodé: “An Evangelizing Lifestyle”
“To evangelize is to serve; it is to give others a personal and communitarian experience of Christ. It is to give and to give oneself.” (December 14, 20089)

Card. Franc Rodé
Brasilia, December 15, 2008. On December 14, Cardinal Franc Rodé gave a talk to the participants in the 4th Youth and Family Encounter in Brazil. The Encounter was held in the city of Brasilia. The following text is an English translation of the cardinal’s talk, which was originally given in Portuguese.

Dear Legionaries, and members and friends of the Regnum Christi Movement:

            It is with great joy that I participate in these Youth and Family events, because I know how they communicate the family spirit of the Movement, and how they encourage your apostolic commitment. These are very special moments of grace. Use them to grow in your personal commitment to Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement, and to delve more deeply into your charism of service to the Church.

            I come from Rome to tell you that I appreciate you very much and that I hold you in high esteem. In this new springtime of the Church, God has made the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi flourish as the work of his own hands, and this fills us with hope and gratitude. Like any work of God, you have to grow and flourish, because the Church needs your living strength to take on the great challenge of the New Evangelization. You have to be very thankful to Jesus for the gift he gave you when he called you to follow him more closely, even more intimately in the Regnum Christi Movement. Persevere in your self-giving. Know that you can always count on the Pope’s esteem and support, as well as on mine.

I am so glad to see Father Álvaro Corcuera here, who carries on his shoulders the responsibility of guiding this evangelizing movement. I know that he wants all of Regnum Christi’s missionary efforts to be oriented to the service of the Church and the good of society. Help him with your generous collaboration.

We are celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a very special devotion for you, who were born at her feet and in her arms. Let us place the fruits of this Encounter in her hands. I want to ask you especially for one fruit: a personal commitment to evangelization.

            The Church, today more than ever, needs evangelizers: men and women who are ready to dedicate their lives, wherever they are or wherever Providence leads them, to preach the name of Christ, to expand his Kingdom. The Church needs people to our brothers and sister that Christ is the Savior, and that the Church is their home, their family. Now more than ever, Regnum Christi has to be a Movement that stands out for its evangelizing strength, for its drive to bring the revealed truth to all mankind, to draw them to God’s grace, to sow peace in the hearts, the peace of intimate union with a Father who has loved us to the point of giving his Son in reparation for our sins.


         Ever since I met Regnum Christi, I have seen this evangelizing lifestyle in its members. It is part of its charism, and it is something that the Church needs to stay alive and to fulfill the mission Christ entrusted to her.[i] It is a personal commitment to Christ and to the Church to share the Good News of the Gospel with the world.

         On one of my normal work days at the Vatican, I received a visit from a Regnum Christi member I had met during a trip to Mexico. He wanted to ask for my blessing because he was going to found a hospital in Chad, Africa, dedicated especially to AIDS patients. The priest who accompanied him told him that Chad was in a state of war, and he responded: “That’s why I have to go now.” This is the spirit of Regnum Christi members: to act because it is needed, because the mission is not a whim or a personal initiative to fill one’s time, but a way to meet a vital need of our brothers and sisters, and something that pleases God. The world needs this evangelization in this time when a profound secularization and a strong hedonistic materialism hold sway in society.

         We have to evangelize our brothers and sisters, we have to evangelize families,[ii] we have to evangelize businesses, we have to evangelize the culture.[iii] We are not trying to impose an ideology or a doctrine. We are presenting Christ as the ideal of the human person, and as the Savior to humanize and save our brothers and sisters and our societies.

We are celebrating the Year of Saint Paul—the Apostle, not the city. [I am certain that we have many Paulistas here: you have a great patron.] Saint Paul was a man who lived only for the good of souls, without thinking of himself. He was a man with a fighting spirit, a man who experienced tiredness, persecution, loss, lashes, several shipwrecks, failure, and betrayal. And yet, he was a man whose every word and action were aimed at one goal: to evangelize: “Woe is me if I do not preach the Gospel!”[iv]

Evangelizing is an act of service done out of love, like parents when they teach their children to pray. They are giving their children the best they have. They are giving them the foundations of their faith. This is the reason that should impel the growth of Regnum Christi: to grow more so as to evangelize more; to grow in holiness so as to be better witnesses of Christ in the world. To grow in holiness, to grow in love, to grow in hope so as to bring others to faith, love, and hope.

What would Saint Paul tell us today if he came to see us? What would he ask of us? What would he pass on to us? Certainly, he would remind us of the words he once wrote to the community in Corinth: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.[v]

With the example of the races (this is a country of great Formula One racers and soccer players), he invites us to fight for a prize that will never decay[vi]: holiness. This is the foundation. Holiness of life is the foundation of testimony and apostolate.

This is the first step: the holiness that is reached by being faithful to grace; the holiness to which we are all called; the holiness that is nourished by the sacraments; the holiness that is to submit ourselves to God’s plan, following his will for our lives. May holiness be the first goal in our lives.

Saint Paul, with his powerful language, would probably add: “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.[vii]

This is language that speaks of combat for the sake of the Gospel of peace; it speaks of militancy, of battle, which is something very proper to the spirituality of the Movement. As Pope Paul VI once said to the members of the Movement: “You are a Movement that is not just watching how things happen, but you are fighting to leave the mark of Christ in the world.” You are committed to the cause of love.

Saint Paul insists very much on prayer. He said: “Pray always.” Prayer is conversation with God; it is the nourishment of the apostle, of the evangelizer. Today, in these times when we live in such adverse environments, prayer becomes even more important. Prayer shows us that our commitment to evangelization comes from Christ. To evangelize is to give what we have received; it is to preach the Christ I have met in prayer. Saint Paul began his work of evangelization after three years of solitude and prayer in the deserts of Arabia. Contemplation and apostolate always go hand in hand.

Prayer helps you “to know the love of Christ, which surpasses all knowledge, that you may be filled to measure of all the fullness of God”[viii] and makes it so that “Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, so that you may be rooted and established in love.”[ix]

The motto of this Encounter is very beautiful: “Love more to serve more.” Love was the cornerstone of Saint Paul’s life. He was a man who lived his mission moved by love, as a service to others, his brothers and sisters, whom he loved in Christ. He was convinced that he was nothing without love.[x] Without love, we are nothing: we are not evangelizers, we are not authentic Christians.

I know that love is the center of your apostolic charism, and that you do not cease to grow in the love of God which “was poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit whom he has given us.”[xi]Nothing can separate us from this love.[xii] This love will guide you in your life and will lead you to live it with your brothers and sisters, each day, in each minute. Love is the distinctive mark of a Christian; it is by your love that today’s men and women will know you are Christ’s disciples.[xiii]

Saint Paul repeats to us today what he told the disciples in Corinth: “Do everything with love”[xiv] or to the Galatians: “Serve one another in love.”[xv]Let us be, then, imitators of God; let us live in love just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.[xvi] May the love of Christ always be the measure of your love.

Dear Regnum Christi members, I know how you are supporting the formation of priests through the Mater Ecclesiae seminary and the “Bom Pastor” (Good Shepherd) priestly center. This is a great service that you are doing for the Church.[xvii] I also know that you are working to found youth clubs, missions, schools, “Sonhar Acordado” (Angel for a Day), “Gente Nova” (New People), initiatives aimed at young people’s social commitment and at service and care for the most needy. Never stop working with the youth;[xviii] they are the springtime of the Church, the future of the nations, and the ones who will be able to build a more human, more Christian world.

Never forget that to evangelize is to serve; it is to give others the personal and communitarian experience of Christ. And to give is to give yourself; it is to give your life at the service of the Gospel, in the vocation to which God calls you. Be generous. The Church needs committed evangelizers. Do not be afraid: may the example of Saint Paul and the love that exists in your hearts lead you to give the Lord an open and sincere “yes.”

The 5th General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Episcopate celebrated in Aparecida last year insisted very much on the formation that is necessary for the mission.[xix] Your commitment to the mission of the Church demands an excellent, quality integral formation.[xx] The Church needs men and women who are very well prepared to be able to engage today’s men and women in dialogue, and to be able to share Christ with them. The Church knows that “the new movements and communities are a gift of the Holy Spirit for the Church. They offer the faithful the means to form themselves in their faith and to grow and commit themselves apostolically so that they can be true missionary disciples.”[xxi] To live out this apostolic commitment, formation is absolutely necessary. Today more than ever, to be able to fulfill its mission, the Church needs members who are well formed, and who know how to give a reason for their faith and offer answers to today’s men and women.

For this reason, I ask you to form yourselves in depth, without sparing any efforts. Live out the continual effort to form yourselves as a service to Christ and the Church. Your painstaking formation is the best guarantee that you will be effective missionaries at the service of Christ and the Church.

Pay special attention to the formation of formators, so that the Regnum Christi members can count on solid people to guide them in the living of their own vocation. It should be a priority to have good formators of formators for the growth and formation of leaders so that they can effectively transform society.

I turn my gaze once again to Our Lady of Guadalupe. I entrust the fruits of this Encounter to her, and I pray to her for the holiness of all Regnum Christi members. She, through her messenger Juan Diego, said: “Am I not here, who am your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not hidden under my mantle? What else do you need?”[xxii] By these words, she invited him to trust in her. Today as well, she invites us to trust in her, to put our apostolic commitment under her protection, and to be inspired by her love to live out our vocation as evangelizers.

Thank you very much.

At the end of the talk, Cardinal Rodé added:

I would like to add a few words in Spanish because, as you have been able to see, my Portuguese is extremely deficient. To speak freely, it is easier for me to express myself in the language of Cervantes and not of Luis de Camoes.

Halfway through the month of November, I was in an audience with the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, and I told him at the end of the audience that I was planning to come on a trip to Chile and Brazil, in Latin America. I told the Holy Father that I was going above all to meet the members of the big Regnum Christi Movement. The Pope told me, “Yes, I know them, I esteem them, I appreciate them. And tell them that my blessing goes with them.” So this is a moment for me to tell you that I also bring you the blessing of Pope Benedict XVI.

I would also like to tell you that on this trip in Chile and Brazil, I have been extremely impressed by the apostolic dynamism and the desire to evangelize that I have found in the members of the Regnum Christi Movement. For me, this is a promise of great value for the future of the Church. You, “Vocês,” as you say in Portuguese, “Vocês” are a great chance, a great possibility, a great opportunity that the Church has to make this great Brazilian people into a nation that is really, integrally Catholic, faithful to the Gospel and living out of love for Christ. You have to be the ones who bring the word of hope, the word of love for Christ to all those you meet on your way through life.

And this mission of yours is the noblest, greatest, most beautiful of all: to bring the word of Christ, to bring the word of the Gospel to all those you meet on your path. For this, as we have said, for this it is very necessary to have a clear Catholic identity. Be happy and grateful to God for having called you to be sons and daughters of the Catholic Church. It is an immense grace that the Lord has given you, of calling you to the holy Catholic Church. And let this identity fill you with deep joy, with continual thanksgiving to the Lord for the grace he has given you.

I think that if you reflect on this interior joy and this feeling of gratitude, then you will really be witnesses of the Lord and his Church. Credible witnesses, witnesses who will be convinced and capable of convincing others. Thank you very much. MUITO OBRIGADO!


Fr Álvaro Corcuera, LC, thanked the cardinal in these words:

Your Eminence, we would like to thank you very much. We thank you because you bring us what we most love, which is the love of Christ. As you know, wherever there is a Brazilian, there is joy. And there is joy because they really love God. That is what we read in St Paul’s second reading today: rejoice, always rejoice in the Lord. And where there is an apostle, there is joy. A Brazilian, a Movement member, is always an apostle because he cannot contain all the love of Christ in his heart. We want to thank you very much, Your Eminence, for your closeness, for your goodness, for the encouragement you give us. We are very aware of the responsibility that we have.

We love Christ very much, and we love our Church very much. And today, some people have also joined Regnum Christi, and we want to congratulate them, too. We want to congratulate them, thank them, and tell them that we are all part of a wonderful family, a family that is united in Christ, and that the love and protection of the Blessed Virgin sustains us. Thank you for having come. Thank you for being what you are. Thank you for making us believe more and more. May God bless you.

[i] Cf. Mt 28:19-20.

[ii] Cf. 5th General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Episcopate:  Aparecida, 432-437. Cf. Aparecida, Inaugural speech of Pope Benedict XVI, May 13, 2007, V.

[iii] Cf. Aparecida, 476-480.

[iv] Cf. 1 Cor 9:16.

[v] Cf. 1 Cor 9:24.

[vi] Cf. 1 Cor 9:25.

[vii] Cf. Eph 6:17-18.

[viii] Cf. Eph. 3:19.

[ix] Cf. Eph 3:17.

[x] Cf. 1 Cor 13:2.

[xi] Cf. Rom 5:5.

[xii] Cf. Rom 8:35.

[xiii] Cf. Jn 13:35.

[xiv] Cf. 1 Cor 16:14.

[xv] Cf. Gal 5:13.

[xvi] Cf. Eph 5:1-2.

[xvii] Cf. Aparecida, Inaugural speech of Pope Benedict XVI, May 13, 2007, V.

[xviii] Cf. Aparecida, 446. Cf. Aparecida, Inaugural speech of Pope Benedict XVI, May 13, 2007, V.

[xix] Cf Aparecida, 276-285.

[xx] Cf. Aparecida, 279 and ff. Cf Aparecida, 299, 337, 441 a), 456, 481.

[xxi] Aparecida, 311.

[xxii] Cf. Nican Mopohua, IV apparition.




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