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Archive for February, 2012

Pentecost and the Illumination

 

 

IN early 2007, a powerful image came to me one day during prayer. I recount it again here (from The Smoldering Candle):

I saw the world gathered as though in a dark room. In the center is a burning candle. It is very short, the wax nearly all melted. The Flame represents the light of Christ: Truth. Read more… »

Published in: A DAILY JOURNAL, TIME OF GRACE | on February 24th, 2012 | 1 Comment »

Charismatic! Part VII

 

THE point of this entire series on the charismatic gifts and movement is to encourage the reader to not be afraid of the extraordinary in God! To not be afraid to “open wide your hearts” to the gift of the Holy Spirit whom the Lord wishes to pour out in a special and powerful way in our times. As I read the letters sent to me, it is clear that the Charismatic Renewal has not been without its sorrows and failures, its human deficiencies and weaknesses. And yet, this is precisely what occurred in the early Church after Pentecost. Saints Peter and Paul devoted much space to correcting the various churches, moderating the charisms, and refocusing the budding communities over and over again upon the oral and written tradition that was being handed on to them. What the Apostles did not do is deny the often dramatic experiences of believers, try to stifle the charisms, or silence the zeal of thriving communities. Rather, they said:

Do not quench the Spirit… pursue love, but strive eagerly for the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy… above all, let your love for one another be intense… (1 Thess 5:19; 1 Cor 14:1; 1 Pet 4:8)

I want to devote the last part of this series to sharing my own experiences and reflections since I first experienced the charismatic movement in 1975. Rather than give my entire testimony here, I will restrict it to those experiences one might call “charismatic.”

 

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Published in: A DAILY JOURNAL, CHARISMATIC? | on February 22nd, 2012 | 2 Comments »

Charismatic? Part VI

pentecost3_FotorPentecost, Artist Unknown

  

PENTECOST is not only a single event, but a grace that the Church can experience again and again. However, in this past century, the popes have been praying not only for a renewal in the Holy Spirit, but for a “new Pentecost”. When one considers all the signs of the times that have accompanied this prayer—key among them the continued presence of the Blessed Mother gathering with her children on earth through ongoing apparitions, as though she were once again in the “upper room” with the Apostles… the words of the Catechism take on a new sense of immediacy:

…at the “end time” the Lord’s Spirit will renew the hearts of men, engraving a new law in them. He will gather and reconcile the scattered and divided peoples; he will transform the first creation, and God will dwell there with men in peace.Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 715

This time when the Spirit comes to “renew the face of the earth” is the period, after the death of Antichrist, during what the Church Father’s pointed to in St. John’s Apocalypse as the “thousand year” era when Satan is chained in the abyss. Read more… »

Published in: A DAILY JOURNAL, CHARISMATIC? | on February 18th, 2012 | No Comments »

Charismatic? Part V

 

 

AS we look at the Charismatic Renewal today, we see a great decline in its numbers, and those who remain are mostly grey and white-haired. What, then, was the Charismatic Renewal all about if it appears on the surface to be fizzling? As one reader wrote in response to this series:

At some point the Charismatic movement vanished like fireworks that light up the night sky and then fall back into the darkenss. I was somewhat puzzled that a move of Almighty God would wane and finally fade away.

The answer to this question is perhaps the most important aspect of this series, for it helps us to understand not only where we’ve come from, but what the future holds for the Church…

 

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Published in: A DAILY JOURNAL, CHARISMATIC? | on February 13th, 2012 | 1 Comment »

Charismatic? Part IV

 

 

I have been asked before if I am a “Charismatic.” And my answer is, “I am Catholic!” That is, I want to be fully Catholic, to live in the center of the deposit of faith, the heart of our mother, the Church. And so, I strive to be “charismatic”, “marian,” “contemplative,” “active,” “sacramental,” and “apostolic.” That is because all of the above belong not to this or that group, or this or that movement, but to the entire body of Christ. While apostolates may vary in the focus of their particular charism, in order to be fully alive, fully “healthy,” one’s heart, one’s apostolate, should be open to the entire treasury of grace that the Father has bestowed upon the Church.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens… (Eph 1:3)

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Published in: A DAILY JOURNAL, CHARISMATIC? | on February 9th, 2012 | No Comments »

Charismatic? Part III


Holy Spirit Window, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City

 

FROM that letter in Part I:

I go out of my way to attend a church that is very traditional—where people dress properly, remain quiet in front of the Tabernacle, where we are catechized according to Tradition from the pulpit, etc.

I stay far away from charismatic churches. I just don’t see that as Catholicism. There is often a movie screen on the altar with parts of the Mass listed on it (“Liturgy,” etc.). Women are on the altar. Everyone is dressed very casually (jeans, sneakers, shorts, etc.) Everyone raises their hands, shouts, claps—no quiet. There is no kneeling or other reverent gestures. It seems to me that a lot of this was learned from the Pentecostal denomination. No one thinks the “details” of Tradition matter. I feel no peace there. What happened to Tradition? To silence (such as no clapping!) out of respect for the Tabernacle??? To modest dress?

 

I was seven years old when my parents attended a Charismatic prayer meeting in our parish. There, they had an encounter with Jesus that profoundly changed them. Our parish priest was a good shepherd of the movement who himself experienced the “baptism in the Spirit.” He permitted the prayer group to grow in its charisms, thereby bringing many more conversions and graces to the Catholic community. The group was ecumenical, and yet, faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church. My dad described it as a “truly beautiful experience.”

In hindsight, it was a model of sorts of what the popes, from the very beginning of the Renewal, wished to see: an integration of the movement with the whole Church, in fidelity to the Magisterium.

 

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Published in: A DAILY JOURNAL, CHARISMATIC? | on February 7th, 2012 | No Comments »

The Verdict

 

AS my recent ministry tour progressed, I felt a new weight in my soul, a heaviness of heart unlike previous missions the Lord has sent me on. After preaching about His love and mercy, I asked the Father one night why the world… why anyone would not want to open their hearts to Jesus who has given so much, who has never hurt a soul, and who has burst open the gates of Heaven and gained every spiritual blessing for us through His death upon the Cross?

The answer came swiftly, a word from the Scriptures themselves:

And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. (John 3:19)

The growing sense, as I’ve meditated on this word, is that it is a definitive word for our times, indeed a verdict for a world now upon the threshold of extraordinary change….

 

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Published in: A DAILY JOURNAL, SIGNS | on February 3rd, 2012 | 1 Comment »