Saturday, May 25, 2013


For the more than six years of my  stay in the Diocese of Tagbilaran as its bishop I have always been dazzled if not puzzled by the depth of the faith of the Bol-anon, the faith that has served them well even within our contemporary history of globalization characterized by  technological progress and globalization with the concomitant problems of easy  life, materialism, and heightened love of self.   What might be its secret or is the  Bol-anon soul simply privileged by Divine design?  I have waited for a satisfactory response.  Then it happened while I was  attending  a meeting of priests and responsible lay faithful.  In that meeting a soul searching inquiry popped up, to wit: what makes the Bol-anon unique as a community of people?  What specific trait differentiates the Bol-anon soul  from that of other Filipinos?  Then the participants came up with this  answer:  “The bol-anon family is unique in that it is a source of faith and the cradle of vocation. “ With that initial revelation  I started to discover more  the delicate role and the intricate ways of the Bol-anon family in cherishing the Christian faith they have received.   
After all God can hardly be experienced outside the family experience.  The person of Jesus cannot be savored and lived,  the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, the love of the Father expressed in His Son’s birth into this earth through the action of the Holy Spirit, would remain a beautiful thought, lurking  in the realm of ideas and spiritual models. To bring down the catechism  into flesh and blood realities, we need the Bol-anon family whose track-record  on spiritual matters, faith and moral, is very well known.    In fact,  through the years, studies  have shown that the Bol-anon family is  considered a cradle of faith and the fount of priestly and religious vocations.  It is along this line that we revisit the Bol-anon family and draw some important conclusions needed to bring down the abstracts of our faith contained in our catechism books into concrete realities of the here and now. In so doing we face the modern challenges of our faith that attack not only the doctrine and teaching of the Catholic Faith, but more so the traditional mores and time-tested way of living among the Bol-anons.   
Creation is God’s love for man, giving him a life that is a copy to His nature.  But for man to express that divine fire of love lodged deeply in his soul needs an entity like himself.  “It is not good for a man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner  for him” (Gen 2: 18). In time God created the  woman and presented him to man as a partner and a wife.  Man accepted her with these  words: “This one at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.  This one shall be called ‘woman’ for out of her man this one has  been taken” (2: 24). This was the first marriage covenant that sets up the family and the  model of all other families that come after it. In a simple  commentary on this marriage the Bible states: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body” (2: 24).  God’s love is the origin of marriage and the family of man.  It is at the same time the way how the love of God is shared with the husband and wife, the instrument that opens the shared- love of husband and wife  with a new life, the child that is born, the tool  whereby God is preached to the members of the family. 
It is true that faith comes  from hearing  the words preached by the one commissioned to do so.   But faith too is handed over by generation through the instrumentality of the family.  The faith of Abraham, the father of faith, has been handed down  to his children and to those who later believed in his God.  Moses saw to it that the experience of  faith will happen in the family.  The Paschal Seder, the center of the Israelites’  worship and the celebration of their  deliverance from the slavery in Egypt,  is commemorated in the family.   It is here that faith is handed over by the head of the family to all his  members  (Exodus 12: 1-30).  Here, the parents were the teachers  of the children reminding them that without God they would never be born,  never see the light of day, or get killed by the angel of death who patrolled that night to kill the first born child  whose house was not marked by the blood of the lamb .  This is the Exodus account of how the parents catechized their children: “When your children ask you, ‘What does this rite of yours mean?’ You shall reply, ‘This is the  Passover sacrifice of the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt; when he struck down the Egyptians, he spared our houses’” (26-27).
But the family only acquires  its proper  dignity and splendor when the Son of God Himself chose to dwell in the family of Joseph and Mary in Nazareth.  Here we learn what a family really is.  As expressed by Paul VI: “May Nazareth serve as a model of what the family should be. May it show us the family’s holy and enduring character and exemplifying its basic function in society: a community of love and sharing, beautiful for the problems it poses and the rewards it brings; in sum, the perfect setting for rearing children – and for this there is no substitute” (Nazareth, January 5, 1964).
The Holy Family of Nazareth has become through the years  the model of  the Bol-anon family.  It is here that God’s love and providence is relished as the husband and wife faced the harsh realities of founding a home of their own;  the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is experienced as the parents and the children take on the variegated problems of poverty, misunderstandings of the parents and their growing teen-agers, squabbles and rivalries among the siblings. Rooted on prayers and the constancy of the faith of the parents, the Bol-anon family has seen the real face of Christ.  He is its Lord and Master. In its midst is  conspicuously displayed   the Cross, the symbol of the Bol-anon faith.  What is being taught  here in the Bol-anon family is not a holy Book nor a doctrine nor a grand idea nor an ideology.  Here  proclaimed is the center of our faith, that is, “a person with the face and name of Jesus of Nazareth, the image of the invisible God” (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, 1990,  18).
Talking of the new way of  Evangelization, the Bol-anon family stands as an option of the spreading of the Good News of salvation, the setting where catechism is not only taught but experienced.
Sa  kanunay panalanginan sa Dios ang Bol-anong Banay. 

+Leonardo Y. Medroso, DD
Bishop of Tagbilaran

Thursday, April 05, 2012


Happy Easter to one and all. This is our heartfelt greeting at the start of this Season of Easter 2012. In the language of the Church who has undergone and suffered the long and weary time of Lent the greeting is suddenly transformed into words of joy and exultation, singing in its liturgical celebrations the “Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia” songs. In the context of the Liturgy of the Season, we greet each other with this proclamation: “Christ is risen; He is truly risen.” All these transmit the same message, the message of hope, of exuberance, of renewed vigour to again face the challenges of life and the ugly face of reality.

Easter is the Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus. It is safe to say that there is no other festival in any religion that is as hopeful, exuberant and full of life as this. For, it stamps a guarantee to one and all that there is after all a meaning to our human existence in this world in spite of the fickleness and emptiness of its day-to-day living; it guarantees solid hope to this world even if it is more often than not enveloped by the darkness of corruption, betrayals, dishonesty, selfishness, greed, poverty, human right violations, rising prices, political intrigues, in fighting, and what have you. We do not know where this darkness come from, but the Son of God, true light that He is (cf. John 1: 4), entered into this darkness of ours and lived with us. Truly human that He become that He was immediately engulfed by darkness, enveloped by it, attacked, vilified, betrayed, condemned, murdered as a criminal. But darkness did not quench the light. He came out of all these negativities triumphant, giving us the most glorious Festival called Easter, a transcendent attestation to all of us that humanity is worth living for. He came out of darkness and revealed to us that marvellous light of the resurrection.

However, in spite of the event as awesome as the resurrection of Jesus , man remains deeply entangled with the existential forces of darkness and the perennial problem of evil. It seems that the power of the resurrection has never made a dent on the invincibility of evil that has bound man to its tight grip. The Good News that “the Christ is risen” would once and for all put an end to man’s earthly problems, sufferings, anguish, agony and death , but it appears to be a dud, an empty promise. As it is, the Easter joy has been proclaimed with all the pomp that the Church could muster, but communities of believers, Christian families, and individual faithful are still struggling with the problems of hunger, misunderstandings in societal relations, violent separations of loved ones, hatred for one another, deceits and betrayal, sexual promiscuity and moral corruption, religious persecutions and prejudices, jealousies, pride, despondency, despair. Paul though converted to the faith and had an intense experience of the risen Lord in his life was not exempted from inwardly contending with his own personal existential problem of sin and evil that in his estimation had no end. And so, disgusted with his fate, he agonizingly once exclaimed: “In my inmost self I dearly love God’s Law, but I can see that my body follows a different law that battles against the law which my reason dictates. This is what makes me a prisoner of that law of sin which lives inside my body. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body doomed to death?” (Rm 7:22-24).

The resurrection of Jesus has not taken away from man his suffering, heartaches, pain of separation, death. But it does implant to each one of us, that substance, that pledge, that energy, to face all kinds of trials with courage. This hope gives us this evidence that the triumph of Jesus over suffering and death, is also our triumph over suffering and death.

After all, meditating deeply into the mystery of the resurrection of Our Lord one would soon realize that the real miracle of the rising of Jesus from the dead is what it reveals, that is, the indescribable love of God. He is the tremendous lover who keeps watch over us in spite of our pettiness, our failures, our constant rejection of love, our ugliness. As John expressed it beautifully: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (3: 16-17). Unconditional love of God: that is the reality revealed to us in the Season of Easter, the miracle that we should relish and with full-throated faith sing: “Alleluia, Christ is truly risen, Alleluia.”

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Lenten Season 2012

Lenten Season is here again. It is a sacred time cherished by the Church for it opens up to her members the opportunity to connect their lives with Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. To go through the variegated religious practices lined up by the Church during these days of Lent is the way to personally encounter Christ, pray to Him, engage Him in a heart-to-heart talk, perhaps, wrestle with Him, and hopefully end up surrendering with that deep feeling that peace of soul has been achieved.
Hence, it is not true that the Catholic Church sets aside the forty days of the Season of Lent in order to make people who are happy unhappy; that she is a big killjoy damping an otherwise bright atmosphere with a suffocating air of sober and serious practices of strict penances, long drawn prayers, fasting and abstinence. The Church knows full well that no amount of human effort can erase the gnawing and perennial questions of suffering and death from man’s his consciousness; that they are there forever haunting and gnawing the soul of her faithful. The Season of Lent is meant to lead us to Christ. For only He has effectively grappled with the stark realities of suffering and death of His existence, and effectively transformed it into a new life. Hence, He alone can truly helped man to effectively face these existential problems. Christ is the center of the Church, and central to Him is the Paschal Mystery, his willing acceptance of his suffering, death, and thereby transforming it with the Resurrection. As He Himself declared: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains but a single grain; but if it dies it yields a rich harvest” (Jn 12:24).
When in the Mass we sing full-throated the phrase “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again”, or, in a drawl of one whose mind is not entirely there we tag along with the congregation mumbling it, we are actually proclaiming the very core of our Christian faith. It is called the Paschal mystery of Christ’s cross and Resurrection, the center of the Good News that the Church proclaims to the whole world. All the religious activities, the penances, prayers and works of love and compassion, the liturgical celebrations and private devotions that lead to discipline and self-mastery, connected with the Season of Lent are all about Christ and His Passover. For it is only through our identification with Christ crucified can we participate in the redemption as planned by God.
To avail of this life that Jesus merited for us we have to be incorporated to Him, undertake the Paschal journey with Him, suffer with Him, die with Him, and be transformed into His likeness, the pleasing Son of the Father. How are we to be incorporated to Christ? The story of Nicodemus could give us a glimpse of the way we will be incorporated to the life of Christ. He was a knowledgeable man, a man who knew about God and His commandments. But with the spiritual stuff that he had in his brain, he was nagged by some questions that eventually brought him to Jesus. Before he even could state his question, our Lord told him: “Unless a man is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” When Nicodemus intervened with this remark: “How can a grown man be born? Can he go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus replied: “I tell you most solemnly, unless a man is born through water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God; what is born of the flesh is flesh; what is born of the Spirit is spirit” (cf. Jn 3:1-6).
The Sacrament of Baptism is the means whereby sinful man is incorporated into the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus. From the day of our baptism, we share Christ’s death and Resurrection and start the wonderful journey of His disciples. Along this line Benedict XVI in his 2011 Lenten message said: “Hence, Baptism is not a rite from the past, but the encounter with Christ, which informs the entire existence of the baptized, imparting divine life and calling for sincere conversion; initiated and supported by Grace, it permits the baptized to reach the adult stature of Christ.
The Season of Lent, then, is our journey towards the center of our faith: an encounter with Christ in his suffering, death, and Resurrection. It is for us a revisit to our original vocation to be holy in Christ. As St. Paul succinctly put it: “You have been buried with him, when you were baptized; and by baptism, too you have been raised up with him through your belief in the power of God who raised him from the dead” (Col 2: 12).

Thursday, January 12, 2012


In line with the five year preparation for the Diamond Jubilee Anniversary of the Foundation of Diocese of Tagbilaran that set up pastoral programs for the development of the Basic Ecclesial Communities through the proclamation of the Gospel and subsequent catecheses on several important areas of our faith, the administration also envisions the integral development of the physical plant of the center of the diocese. Called the Development of the Diocesan Centrum of Tagbilaran, it is a project that serves to complement the spiritual growth of our people as it is envisaged to express in stone, concrete, wood, arts, hues, and lines the lived and in some way inculturated Faith of our people. With this project the Diocese hopes that our cherished Catholic Faith may live on.

Rationale of the Development of the Diocesan Centrum

The Diocesan Centrum of Tagbilaran is the administrative, religious, liturgical, historical, and pastoral centre of the Diocese of Tagbilaran. Located in kilometer 0, it is the heart and nerve of the People of God in the ecclesiastical jurisdiction. It encompasses the Bishop’s Palace (PALASYO), the Cathedral , the Formation Center, and its open Spaces.

The development of the Diocesan Centrum is a project envisaged to streamline the governance of the particular Church in Tagbilaran by rationalizing the areas where the administrative and pastoral work of the Bishop, his priests, and lay cooperators are conducted and by maximizing its physical spaces to accommodate the living quarters of its priests.

The project proceeds in two phases. The first phase is to revitalize the Palasyo. This is an undertaking that would rehabilitate its late 18th-century historical core and the 1950 façade. Its rear elevation and interior will be substantially renovated to articulate Boholano architecture.

The second phase involves the reconfiguration of the Diocese’s formation house located at the back of the Cathedral converting it into additional office spaces for the other departments of the Diocesan Curia, and into meeting rooms and conference halls open for the use of the Christian Faithful. Living suites on its upper floors are also contemplated to serve the guests, visitors, and pilgrims who would wish to avail of the Diocese’s modest hospitality.

PHASE 1: Rehabilitating the Tagbilaran Palasyo
The Palasyo is the official residence of the Bishop of Tagbilaran. It is the seat of the Diocesan Curia. It is from its hearth that our Bishop governs the Diocese as father in the Faith, and as faithful steward of Catholicity. It is from its heart where young priests are nurtured, the middle-aged are nourished, and the senior clergy are nursed.

The Palasyo is also the priests’ home, the central residence, the common resting abode – as it always had been for their Jesuit and Recollect predecessors.
However, the Palasyo has seen better days. We need a better home that addresses the priests’ personal and pastoral needs. Hence, the urgent need for the rehabilitation project. It has to be a residence that respects the structure’s late 18th century historical core. While preserving its 1950’s façade, the Palasyo articulates Boholano architecture on its rear elevation and in the interior design so that it becomes iconic for the island and its inhabitants, an emblem of the Church taking its root in Bohol, a symbolic capital of God’s home for His children.

In brief, the project Development of the Diocesan Centrum of Tagbilaran, Phase 1, calls for the following major structural alterations, viz., a renovated and capacious chapel where the Bishop, together with his priests, celebrate the canonical hours, the Holy Sacraments, and especially the worship of the Most Holy Eucharist; lounges, courtyards, balconies, and recreation rooms for communal activities; and, personal living quarters, formal and informal dining halls, receiving halls, and a reading room will complement the residence. The office spaces of the Diocesan Curia will be optimized to streamline the diocesan pastoral governance.

…that Faith may live on.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year 2012

“Happy New Year”. It is a greeting that though commonly used still packs potent message presaging brighter future come the new year. For I know that 2012 with a clean slate comprising of three hundred sixty six days will uncover the untapped potential that is still in us. Predictions of more intense natural calamities such as storms and earthquakes, of more political tensions and party squabbles, of arm skirmishes and human right violations here and there in the country, of economic depressions and insufficient incomes both individually and collectively, have already been lined up by scientists and business experts. But people remain undaunted. Lodged within them is that deep feeling that all these negative predictions are for people who have hope opportunities for the betterment of their status.

After all for men of faith the answer to our sad plight goes beyond socio-economic analysis and political maneuverings. For the start our faith believes that this God-made-Man gives us the stubborn hope that blossoms best in moments of darkness and ambiguity; that it would give us the needed courage to pick up again the communal problem of searching for the truth that we have temporarily left off; that we can readily face up to the moral problems, political confusions, and social illusions, that have through these years tightly gripped the soul of our country. Time visited by God gives us the hope to extricate ourselves from the sad situation that we are in, the time when work is scarce, when families are so poor they can no longer live with dignity, when the greed of those in the corridors of power has drowned away all their shame and decency, when corruption has become our greatest shame as a people”, when the chaotic climate change with its flashed floods has threatened thousands of lives living in the low land.

This hope is dynamic, alive, vigorous. It pushes us to action. It is alien for people of hope to say that the event of our times is inevitable. A Filipino Christian, whose spirit is soaked with the Christmas experience, plunges himself into action, for he knows that at the heart of this topsy-turvy nation of ours there is the God who in His incarnation definitively took unto himself human history. Christmas has taught him that God has accompanied man in his journey in this world and eventually overcome the negative elements that are in it, death, sickness, and sin included. As Jesus said: “In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world” (Jn 16:33).

By action here is meant concrete involvement in the unfolding of our history. Christians who possess the seed of hope in their hearts cannot be passive or indifferent bystanders in the drama which we call “everyday life”. “We can open ourselves and the world and allow God to enter: we can open ourselves to truth, to love, to what is good” (Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, 35). “Even when we are fully aware that Heaven far exceeds what we can merit”, the Pope says, “it will always be true that our behavior is not indifferent before God and therefore is not indifferent for the unfolding of history” (35). Even when we seem powerless before the enemy, “our actions engender hope for us and for others…” (35).
In other words, the more we engage actively and constructively in the efforts to improve society, the more we make alive the hope that is in us. Conversely, the more indifferent we are, the more cynicism destroys our capacity to dream for a better, renewed life.

And when we act, when we actively involve ourselves in the unfolding of history, the element of suffering becomes all the more unavoidable. Being a consequence of our finitude, suffering is already inevitable, but it can swell into horrifying levels when we labor for truth and justice. We can perhaps minimize it by leading a life of utter indifference. We can close our eyes from falsehood and tyranny, and spare ourselves from hostility.

But is this the Christian option? The Holy Father says, “It is not by sidestepping or fleeing from suffering that we are healed, but rather by our capacity for accepting it, maturing through it and finding meaning through union with Christ, who suffered with infinite love” (37). And with a rather stunning emphasis, he repeats at least three (3) times in the encyclical that the capacity to suffer for truth and justice is an essential criterion, the very measure, of humanity (cf. 38 and 39). To abandon this capacity would destroy man himself. “Truth and justice must stand above my comfort and physical well-being, or else my life itself becomes a lie” (38).

Saturday, December 24, 2011

2011 Christmas Message

Like any precious gem the message of Christmas is wrapped up with a protective coat to shield its divine content from impurities of secular biases and worldly interpretations; from the banality of a Christmas atmosphere turned into business schemes and sales strategies; from the shallowness of Christmas gifts devoid of the human heart that gives; from the opaqueness of our interpersonal and communitarian relationship born out of pride and high-handed arrogance, our selfishness and greed, our excessive love of possessions and riches; from lack of concern for others. For the substance of the message of Christmas is Gift of Self – God giving up his dignity of God to become like us puny mortals taking up the name “Emmanuel”, that is, God living with us, sharing the sad story of our humanity that has for time immemorial been suffering the weight of human frailties. The motivation behind this divine act is simply beyond comprehension, unbelievable. But acts of love are always that: they are unbelievable. St. John the Evangelist described this God’s act of love in this simple line: “Yes, God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him may not die but may have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). Truly, the greetings of Christmas are glad tidings of love and compassion for us all.

It is, however,interesting to note that the message of Christmas comes out handy and useful when man, down and out with great losses in life, still sees a ray of hope at the end of the dark tunnel; its true worth appreciated when he, left vulnerable to the stark negativity of life, feels the naked Baby Jesus lying within his being.

With this observation it is safe to say that sad realities of life help man break open the secret message of Christmas. Of late our country has undergone social, political, and climactic upheavals whose impact cannot as yet be measured or figured out. That these happened in this moment of our history is worth looking into. What is God’s Christmas message to us?

It all started with the issuance of the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) effected by no less than the Supreme Court itself deliberating in banc. Its content was to allow the former President Gloria Arroyo to set out of the country for health reason and thereby suspend the power of the Watch List issued by the Department of Justice, an Executive Branch of the government, barring the same to leave the Country. It was a clash of conflicting orders each side advancing grounds for their actions. While this dispute was going on, an order came out from the Judiciary – a lower court it’s true , yet has power to make a court order - to disallow her to leave the country because she has a pending case in court to respond and to settle. Caught up with these legal complexities the former president has to remain in the country, in a hospital specifically designated for her while on trial.

Then came the impeachment case against the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. To the amazement of everybody, the lower House of Congress came up with the move to impeach the Chief Justice. Signed by a big number of congressmen, the impeachment case was then submitted to the Senate for consideration. The Senate went over the case, appreciated its merit, and promptly sent a summon to the Chief Justice to answer the accusations regarding the issue at bar.

Then, a more deadly tragedy struck the nation. Tropical Storm Sendong stealthily entered the Southern part of the Country, bringing with it lots of rain that caused rampaging floodwaters thickened along the way with mud and all sorts of debris , flushing through towns and villages in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City. Thousands of lives have been lost at its tail, homes were destroyed and entire villages wiped out.

All these happened just some days before Christmas 2011. Is there a message to all these sad events? Yes, there is.

Firstly, It is in the midst of these misfortunes that God is deeply sensed to bring redemption to a man who needs redemption; to a person who is weighed down by his guilt, and is suffering from an existential evil, such as flood that drowned his loved ones and carried away all his belongings. It is in the midst of these variegated ills and tragedies of life that God is discovered to be the God who existentially listens to the cry of the poor. Keeping records of these encounters would eventually develop within man a solid foundation of his being. God becomes his foundation.

Secondly, our Christmas would be meaningful this year if we get up and help our brothers and sisters who fell victims to this force of nature. Our disciplined celebration of Christmas, the restrained cut-down of our holiday expenses for the sake of our brothers and sisters would in a long way teach us precious lessons of compassion, care, and concern. As beautifully expressed by Pope Benedict XVI: “The true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer” (Encyclical Letter “Spe Salvi”, 38). Adversity, suffering, mysterious events do instruct.


Friday, December 09, 2011

New Ecclesial Movements and the Pastors

It has been for some time now that dioceses in the Philippines in setting up their pastoral programs in consonance with the desideratum expressed by PCPII has more often than not to contend with the existence of charismatic communities and other ecclesial movements. These are entities that have helped the parishioners to appreciate the variegated charisms that they have received from baptism, lived their Christian life with vitality, joy and enthusiasm, carried the love for neighbours in their day-to-day living, helping build up shelters for the homeless, taking care of the sick, proclaiming the good news to far flung barangays and urban slums. They are great Christians. And yet, they seem to be on their own, doing their own thing independently from the administration of the local church, gyrating around themselves without a bother with what is happening in the parish. Through the years they have created that impression that they are a parallel, if not rival, communities.
It is for this reason that the local Church authority has to seriously look into their nature, appreciate their existence, and consider the possibility of working harmoniously with them without stifling the fresh spiritual air that they have been enjoying. However, to welcome these ecclesial movements and faith communities into the working organizational structure of the same demands from the diocesan bishop and the parish priest the exercise of a high quality of leadership. This implies above all the study of the Magisterium’s recent pronouncements on new lay movements and ecclesial communities.
Blessed John Paul II who has meticulously followed the evolution of the movements and the fruits of renewal has made through the years some insightful conclusions. These conclusions could serve as excellent guidelines to local pastors in their approach to these movements.
First, John Paul II concluded that ecclesial movements are important for the Church. As he observed these movements are deeply rooted in the Church; nay, the Church herself is a movement. As early as 1981 he already applied the term “movement” to the Church. He said: “as you know the Church herself is a “movement” (John Paul II, Homily, 27 September 1981). And as such she participates in the dynamism of the Blessed Trinity who even up to now works and acts in the day-to-day history of man. In a mysterious way she dispenses the mystery of the eternal Love of Father, of his fatherly heart, from which the mission of the Son and of the Holy Spirit begins (cf. ibid). As a movement therefore the Church not only initiates the redemptive works of God in humanity, but is ever opened to the initiative of the Holy Spirit who causes irruptions in the hearts and consciences of the baptized. Pope Benedict XVI in his address to the bishops in 1999 made a sweeping observation that the Church is not just programs and organizations. She is shaped by her spirituality born in her openness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. He said: “It is important that the spiritual office, the priesthood, itself be understood and lived charismatically. The priest himself should be a ‘pneumatic,’ a homo spiritualis, a man awakened and driven by the Holy Spirit… It must not overinstitutionalize itself, but must always remain open to the Lord’s unforeseen, unplanned call” (Ratzinger,Theological Locus of Ecclesial Movements).

Second, John Paul II saw that charism is vital to the Church’s life. At the origin of these ecclesial movements and faith communities there has always been a charism granted to the founder. It is a grace, a gift freely granted by the Holy Spirit for the building up of the Church. It is therefore a boon to the community and not a bane; not a threat to the institution but a support to it. John Paul II in his 2 March1987 address clearly said: “In the Church, both the institutional and the charismatic aspects, both the hierarchy and associations and movements of the faithful, are co-essential and share in fostering life, renewal and sanctification, though in different ways.”

Third, the late Pope observed that communities are the fruits of charism. Charism builds communities. It is of its nature to reach out to people and lead them to unite together, eventually forming them into associations. Charism therefore takes its root in communities. John Paul II finely described this reality when he said: “In the Church’s history we have continually witnessed the phenomenon of more or less vast groups of the faithful, which, under the a mysterious impulse of the Spirit, have been spontaneously moved to join together in pursuit of certain charitable or sanctifying ends “ (ibid., Address 2 March 1987). .

Fourth, these movements lead the members to deeply appreciate the sacrament of baptism which they had received. No matter the diversity of forms, these ecclesial movements are marked by a common awareness of the newness and radicality of life which baptismal grace awakens in them. They deeply realize what it means to be a baptized person, that is, a person who is committed to the mystery of communion with Christ and with their brethren. In sum, these movements do not affect only partial aspect of Christian life, but are new ways of living the Christian message.
Lastly, the late John Paul II emphasized on the need of the movements for complete communion with the Church. This communion with the Church is for the pope the critical path which the movements have to trod. In Christifideles Laici he said: “This journey requires of movements an ever stronger communion with the Pastors God has chosen and consecrated to gather and sanctify his people in the light of faith, hope, and charity, because no charism dispenses the person from reference and submission to the Pastor of the Church” (n. 24).

Ecclesial movements and new faith communities are there for the taking. They are precious gifts of God to the particular Churches, ever ready to be tapped and availed of.