By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published August 2, 2007
PThe highest official in the Legionaries of Christ urged members of the religious congregation and its lay members to follow the Gospel message, to love in word and action.
“We are called to love. We are called to love in deeds, and not just in words. We are called to love our enemies, and not only those who treat us well. We are called to love everyone, everywhere, in good times and in bad. Then it will be clear that the Holy Spirit truly reigns in our lives and that we belong to Christ,” said Legionaries of Christ Father Alvaro Corcuera, the superior general of both the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi, the lay arm of the religious organization.
People need “to go back over and over again to the heart of the Gospel,” he said in his prepared speech July 28.
Father Corcuera spoke to a large and friendly crowd on the last night of the weeklong Youth and Family Encounter event at the Georgia World Congress Center. He spoke after former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush made remarks focused on how his faith influenced his political decisions during his eight years in office.
The Legionaries of Christ congregation has 700 priests and 2,500 seminarians in some 20 countries around the world. The religious order operates several independent Catholic schools in North Georgia.
Some 4,000 people attended the 11th annual international conference in Atlanta.
Father Corcuera said Catholics are urged to “bear fruit” as part of the vocation, whatever their calling in life might be.
“Within our common Christian vocation and our vocation to the Regnum Christ Movement each of us has a specific vocation, a specific mission to fulfill. That means that each of us must bear a particular fruit that no one else can give,” he said.
No matter the different vocations, all have the mandate from Jesus: to love each other. And Jesus’ disciples are to be recognized by the concern they show one another, he said.
“This is the first and most important fruit. It is the fruit that cannot be lacking. It is the fruit that deserves our greatest attention,” he said.
Father Corcuera said the Legion of Christ does not distinguish itself with special uniforms or special haircuts, or “secret handshakes.” Instead, he said, the movement must be known for its adoption of Jesus’ attitude of love of people.
Quoting St. Paul, Father Corcuera said that no matter what people do, “no matter how great or impressive, it is worth nothing if we do not love.”
“At the end of our lives, only one sort of work will survive the purifying fire: the work done in love and for love,” he said.
He reminded the audience how Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his first encyclical that God is love.
“When we love, we are true to our nature, we are true to our highest calling as Christians and as human beings,” he said.
Father Corcuera offered a nine-point plan to guide people in developing charitable habits: charity in words, actively speaking well of others; charity in thought, giving people the benefit of the doubt and thinking well of them; charity in action, “standing shoulder-to-shoulder with those in need”; charity in prayer, “the greatest gift we can ever give”; ingenious charity, flowing from a heart sensitive to the real needs of others; hidden charity, done in silence; joyful charity, which looks on serving as a privilege, not a burden; self-sacrificing charity, dying to oneself and putting others first; and supernatural charity, which gives others the gift of knowing and loving Christ.