Testimony of Martine Catta
At the beginning of the Emmanuel Community, Pierre Goursat and Martine Catta shared the foundational experience on February 13th 1972. This is a testimony originally published in the Letter to the Emmanuel Community in January 2011.
It all began with the experience of an outpouring of the Holy Spirit1
During a weekend where we were about thirty people, Pierre and I asked for an outpouring of the Spirit. We received a call to move forward together. We knew each other a little, since we had worked together for a school of contemplative prayer. But then we truly became brother and sister.
We received the grace of fraternal communion which was extremely powerful, much deeper than one can describe and at the same time so simple. It is hard to explain this with words. This communion impelled us forward, and for me, to make choices. With an extraordinary joy, we felt that God had called us to something, but we did not know what it was.
Pierre believed that this fraternal grace, received by the experience of the effusion of the Spirit, as it was given at Pentecost, was the grace seen especially in the Charismatic Renewal. He really believed this and was re-assured by the arrival of the first brothers and sisters, who received this same grace with the experience of the outpouring of the Spirit. Pierre advanced in faith in this grace and he kept this faith until the end. This was essential for the creation of the Community.
The experience of the outpouring of the Spirit, a grace for the Emmanuel Community
It is obvious – who could unite us with such deep bonds? There is no human thing which could help us to enter into such a deep communion and in such unity. The Pope told us that it is not only solidarity in the apostolate that we carry out together but something very different - a fraternal communion2. This is why Pierre was so insistent that we should serve together, that we should pray and praise together, because that is what builds us into one body and which witnesses to those outside the Community something of God’s Love itself, of the Love which is in God. Only the Holy Spirit can do this.
That is why the experience of the outpouring of the Spirit we received 40 years ago and on which the Community was built, is fundamental to our Community, and it remains so today. The Community was not created for us to feel good together. Like the Lord’s love, it was so that we would together give of ourselves, that we should go and witness to others and evangelize. As Pierre said, “the world is going very badly, and we are going to evangelize in the world and work together in renewing the Church through the gift of ourselves.”
The charisms – fruits of the experience of the outpouring of the Spirit
We already have charisms resulting from our baptism, since we are dwellings of God and the Holy Spirit is in us. But it is true that we receive, through the experience of the outpouring of the Spirit, where we welcome in a special way the Holy Spirit, special charisms for the salvation of the world. The Holy Spirit is not stingy, He is not a miser, He will give us the tools we need. He will give us the gifts necesssary for service and evangelisation. He will also give us charisms useful in this evangelization and in the service to others.
1 We often forget that the Holy Spirit is in every baptized and confirmed person. The step of the ‘experience of the outpouring of the Spirit’, is where we become aware of His presence within us. It consists in opening our hearts and our whole life to the Holy Spirit, so that He guides our lives and makes us really follow Christ.
2 ‘I invite your community in particular to live authentic communion among its members. This communion, which is not merely human solidarity among the members of a single spiritual family, is founded on your relationship with Christ and on the common commitment to serve him.’ Pope Benedict XVI speaks to the leaders of the Emmanuel Community, 3rd February 2011.