|Interview With the Coordinator of a Charismatic Renewal Group
VATICAN CITY, 31 MAY 2004 (ZENIT)
On the eve of Pentecost, 15,000
members of the Italian branch of Catholic Charismatic Renewal attended the
vespers in St. Peter's Square, where John Paul II appealed for a
rediscovery of the person and gifts of the Holy Spirit.
To learn more about this theme, ZENIT interviewed Salvatore Martinez,
national coordinator of the branch known as Renewal in the Spirit.
Q: What does Pentecost represent for Renewal in the Spirit?
Martinez: Renewal in the Spirit intends to be an eloquent sign of the
inexhaustible wonder of Pentecost and of the reawakening of faith in the
charisms of the Spirit, an admonition so that the Church will rediscover
the physiological structure of Christian life which is, by its nature, a
life in the Holy Spirit.
Since it arose, Renewal in the Spirit seems to be the fulfillment of the
bold prophetical hopes formulated by John XXIII, at the opening of Vatican
There are two salient stages: in the first instance, the affirmation of
the "current of grace," of a spirituality supported by the communal
experience of charisms, image of a Church that loves to be "in the
Cenacle," to "speak to God about the world," and "outside the Cenacle," to
"speak to the world about God"; progressively, the affirmation of the
notion of "ecclesial movement," in a growing apostolic commitment, of
communion with pastors, of permanent formation that renders manifest the
new life in the Spirit in the "lay charismatic ministries" activated in
the Church and in the world.
Q: What is the Spirit for you?
Martinez: Without the Spirit, evangelization is like a stagnant river,
charity like fire without heat, the Word something indeclinable, the
Eucharist an impenetrable mystery, the other will never be a neighbor, the
world a hell, paradise a forgotten reality, the Church a mother without
In my personal experience, I have seen thousands of sinners return to God,
persons sick in body and soul restored to health; men and women who had
lost their human dignity and wandered without hope through thousands of
poverties find again the joy of living and of calling themselves "sons,
daughters of God."
The Spirit does this and much more in those who are docile to his power,
according to Jesus' promises.
This power was manifested in the life of the apostles and is manifested in
the life of every believer by the free and unforeseeable initiative of the
Spirit. This is why we speak of "Pentecostal, charismatic effusion of the
Spirit" together with the programmed and effective effusions of the Spirit
in the sacraments of Christian life.
Q: Renewal in the Spirit is a movement that has more than 80 million
followers in the world. In what way did you plan to communicate and
witness to the Spirit of God among people? What plan of life do you
Martinez: The effusion of the Spirit represents the founding experience of
the specific charismatic spirituality of Renewal in the Spirit. It is the
"unleashed charism," the specific experience of Renewal in the Spirit.
John Paul II defines it as [a] "cause of an ever more profound experience
of the presence of Christ."
The effusion of the Spirit makes present and reactivates our baptism,
unleashing the Holy Spirit. It is a call to permanent conversion, as on
the day of the Pentecostal descent of the Spirit in Jerusalem.
It is a new awareness of the Lordship of Jesus in our life, that Jesus who
is Lord, and only through the Spirit can he be loved, adored, proclaimed,
witnessed and shared.
We owe to Paul VI the first, convinced, immediate and "prophetic"
recognition of the role of Renewal in the Spirit in the Church and in the
In 1975 he said: "The Renewal must rejuvenate the world, it must give it a
spirituality, a soul. It will be an opportunity for the Church if you were
to cry out to the world the glory of the God of Pentecost."
We are grateful to John Paul II for having stimulated Renewal in the
Spirit to become
he told us from the first audience in 1980 "a hope for the world," an
advance guard of witnesses of the "new evangelization" in docility to the
The incidence of John Paul II's pontificate, his constant concerns
addressed to us, were the boldest impetus to the ecclesial maturation of
Renewal in the Spirit.
Since 1998, we receive annually a signed letter from the Supreme Pontiff
on the occasion of the greatest event organized by us, in Rimini: an
ecumenical congress in which an average of 25,000 people participate: many
cardinals and bishops; more than 600 priests and religious; 5,000 family
households; more than 600 volunteers; and an animation ministry made up of
more than 120 people, between singers and instrumentalists.
A clear demonstration of the notion of "people of God" so dear to Vatican
II which in Rimini sees the interaction of institutions and charisms in a
truly unique style for the world and with spiritual returns that are truly
Q: Is it enough to entrust oneself to the Lord to live more humanly?
Martinez: Thousands of baptized people do not experience the presence and
action of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
The Spirit was given to us by Jesus as the Paraclete, that is, "He who is
called to be next to us." Yet many Christians not only do no avail
themselves of his amiable company, but actually do not invoke him, do not
seek him, do not entrust to him the direction of their lives.
Meanwhile, as a result, it is very obvious to see signs of the "absence"
of the Holy Spirit: disintegration of family life, the decrease in
vocations, the indifference toward so many poverties in our time, the
weakening of the testimony of Christians, which is to be found in a weak
and sterile life in the Spirit.
One who opens to the Spirit, and through prayer rediscovers the primacy of
the interior life and the beauty of intimacy with God, sees his own
natural aspirations transformed into hope. The human and rational
interpretations of reality are revivified in the faith. Human love is
regenerated in charity.
The human quest for justice is sublimated in the commitment to build the
Kingdom of God on earth.
Q: What role does prayer play in your spiritual proposal?
Martinez: The experience of the prayer of praise and intercession made "in
the Spirit" is a central dimension of Pentecost, as Paul VI already
affirmed in 1964.
Prayer is our very soul before God. The more it is surrendered, "gripped
by the Spirit," the more it experiences the "praiseworthy madness" of
David before the ark of the covenant, or, as John Paul II has reminded us
in Number 33 of "Novo Millennio Ineunte," of "ardent devotion, until the
heart truly 'falls in love.'"
On the occasion of the special audience for our 30th anniversary in 2002,
we received a special instruction from the Pope: to become a "school of
prayer" in the Church, in a special way by making the prayer of praise
loved, a form of prayer that renders glory to God for what he is, even
before for what he does. ZE04053120