The great strikes of God’s grace in history have always been associated with the great dramas and existential conflicts that the Church and society of every time and place experienced. The Creator acts as a perfect and loving Father, accompanying, forming and educating his children. There are several passages that deal with this loving and didactic relationship of God with his children. A very significant one that we could highlight is this, read with pity:
“Concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I don’t want you to live in ignorance. There is a diversity of gifts, but only one Spirit. The ministries are diverse, but one is the Lord. There are also diverse operations, but it is the same God who operates everything in everyone. Each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for common profit. To one is given by the Spirit a word of wisdom; to another a word of knowledge, by the same Spirit; to another faith, by the same Spirit; to another the grace of healing sickness, in the same Spirit; to another the gift of miracles; to another prophecy; to another the discernment of spirits; to another the variety of tongues; to another finally the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit distributes all these gifts, distributing to each as he pleases” (1 Corinthians 12:2-11).
When we read these words of the great apostle Paul and study the historical trajectory of congregations, religious orders, it is impossible not to be charmed by God’s didactic and loving care for his people. A new congregation, a religious order, a movement, a new charism, always emerge as a bold response from God. It is a Divine remedy, for an existential and spiritual infirmity of society and of the Church of every time and place.
Just a few examples: Order of the Templars, Legionaries of Christ, Order of Mount Carmel, Order of St. Benedict, Camillus de Lellis, Carmelites, Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, Augustinians, Carmelites, Franciscans, etc… This is beautiful because it expresses how mysticism and Catholic Christian spirituality are transcendent but, at the same time, it is historical, concrete. It also shows how attentive and active God’s love is in the lives of his children.
The new expressions
In recent decades, God, without annulling, cancelling or excluding the old, rich and classic congregations, orders, institutes of religious and consecrated life in the Church, has given rise to new charisms and vocations. Most of them in the form of so-called new communities. They have emerged in the canonical form of Private Association of the Faithful, Institutes of Consecrated Life, etc. Among these gifts of God, which we could mention are: Catholic Shalom Community (Comunidade Católica Shalom), New Song Community (Canção Nova), Work of Mary Community (Obra de Maria), Hesed Community, Focolare Movement, Jesus Youth, etc.
Here we could type many and many other names spread around the world. There are still many things we could say and explain about the new communities, but we need to conclude. I hope, however, and wish that this text may have awakened in your heart blessed curiosities for personal research, as well as maturing your journey of faith in the Church.
God bless you always, Shalom!
Translation: Sérgio Godoy Jr.