Ecclesial movements, inspired by a desire to live the Gospel more intensively and to announce it to others, have always been manifest in the midst of the People of God.
In our day and particularly during recent decades, new movements have appeared that are more independent of the structures and style of the religious life than in the past (John Paul II, Directives on Formation in Religious Institutes, n. 92).
The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit (John 3:8).
Part of the freshness of the Spirits work in our time is the emergence of the laity as vital participants in the Churchs life and mission; indeed, our era has been termed by some the age of the laity. A principle means, by which the laity has both been touched by the Spirits grace and found an avenue for service and Catholic life, is through the ecclesiastical movements.
Movements such as Regnum Christi, the Charismatic Renewal, and the Neocatechumenal Way, are examples of the Holy Spirits ever new work of stirring believers to the fullness of faith in Christ and the practice of the Christian life.
Pope John Paul II, seeing the pivotal role of these movements in the Spirits work of renewing the Church, has encouraged them at every step, while urging a full and generous participation in the life of the Church among their members. On Pentecost Sunday, 1998, he addressed participants from around the world in the World Congress for Ecclesial Movements:
The movements and new communities, providential expressions of the new springtime brought forth by the Spirit with the Second Vatican Council, announce the power of Gods love, which, in overcoming divisions and barriers of every kind, renews the face of the earth to build the civilization of love.
We hope that you who are members of these movements learn here of your brothers and sisters around the world; and that those of you not yet familiar with these movements come to know these outpourings of Gods grace.
The mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit is brought to completion in the Church, which is the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit. This joint mission henceforth brings Christs faithful to share in His communion with the Father in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit prepares men and goes out to them with His grace, in order to draw them to Christ (CCC, n. 737).
Copyright © 2000 Joseph T. Papa