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…
HOPE IN HOPELESSNESS
We live in a world where everywhere from Hollywood, to the headline news, to those who are speaking prophetically to the Church and the world… there is a common theme of a coming breakdown of society, its structures, and consequently, nature as we know it. Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, summed it up eighteen years ago:
It is evident today that all the great civilizations are suffering in varying ways from the crises of values and ideas which in some parts of the world assume dangerous forms… In many places, we are on the brink of ungovernability. —”Ratzinger Speaks”, Catholic World Report, January 1194, p. 24
In a word, we are descending into lawlessness, where it’s as though the restrainer upon the disordered appetites of human nature is being lifted (see The Restrainer). This calls to mind the Scriptures which speak of the coming of the “lawless one”…
For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. But the one who restrains is to do so only for the present, until he is removed from the scene… For unless the apostasy comes first and the lawless one is revealed… the one whose coming springs from the power of Satan in every mighty deed and in signs and wonders that lie, and in every wicked deceit for those who are perishing because they have not accepted the love of truth so that they may be saved. Therefore, God is sending them a deceiving power so that they may believe the lie, that all who have not believed the truth but have approved wrongdoing may be condemned. (2 Thess 2:3, 7, 9-12)
Can we as Christians, then, in a world that is rapidly abandoning reason itself see Pope Benedict’s speech where he identifies the world passing into an “eclipse of reason”: On The Eve have cause to hope for a better future? The answer is yes, absolutely yes. But it lies within a paradox that Jesus illustrated:
I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. (John 12:24)
So on the one hand,
An age is coming to an end, not just the end of a remarkable century but the end of seventeen hundred years of Christendom. The greatest apostasy since the birth of the Church is clearly far advanced all around us. —Dr. Ralph Martin, Consultor to the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization; The Catholic Church at the End of Age: What is the Spirit Saying? p. 292
And on the other,
“The hour of suffering is the hour of God. The situation is hopeless: this, then, is the hour for hoping… When we have reasons for hoping then we rely on those reasons…” Thus we should rely “not on reasons, but on a promise—a promise given by God…. We must admit that we are lost, surrender ourselves as lost, and praise the Lord who saves us.” —Fr. Henri Caffarel, A New Pentecost, by Léon Joseph Cardinal Suenens, p. xi
And what is part of the promise?
It will come to pass in the last days,’ God says, ‘that I will pour out a portion of my spirit upon all flesh. Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. Indeed, upon my servants and my handmaids I will pour out a portion of my spirit in those days, and they shall prophesy. And I will work wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below: blood, fire, and a cloud of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the coming of the great and splendid day of the Lord, and it shall be that everyone shall be saved who calls on the name of the Lord. (Acts 2:17-21)
There is coming, before the “day of the Lord,” a glorious outpouring of the Holy Spirit “upon all flesh….”
THE MASTER PLAN
The Catechism explains this passage, which St. Peter proclaimed on Pentecost morning:
According to these promises, 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
The “end time” essentially began with Christ’s Ascension into Heaven. However, it remains for Christ’s “body” to follow the Head in fulfilling the mystery of salvation, which St. Paul says is “a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth.” Eph 1:10 Not just in heaven, he says, but “on earth.” Jesus also prayed, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” There remains, then, a time when all the nations will be brought under the banner of Christ: when His spiritual kingdom, like a great mustard tree, spreading its branches far and wide, will cover the earth; cf. The Coming Dominion of the Church when there will be at last the unity of the body of Christ that He prayed for hours before His own Passion.
As far as the person of Jesus is concerned, the Incarnation of the Word is complete when he returns, glorified, to the Father; but it still remains to be carried out with regard to mankind as a whole. The intention is that mankind will be incorporated in the new and ultimate principle through the sacramental mediation of the “body” of Christ, the Church…. The Apocalypse that concludes the Word of God shows in the clearest manner that there can be no question of one-dimension progress in history: the nearer the end approaches, the more fierce becomes the battle…. The more the Holy Spirit becomes present in history, the more prevalent is what Jesus calls the sin against the Holy Spirit. —Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988), Theo-Drama, vol. 3, The Dramatis Personae: The Person in Christ, p. 37-38 (emphasis mine)
It is the Spirit of Christ that ultimately conquers the spirit of Antichrist and the “lawless one” himself. But it will not yet be the end according to the early Church Fathers.
We do confess that a kingdom is promised to us upon the earth, although before heaven, only in another state of existence... —Tertullian (155–240 A.D.), Nicene Church Father; Adversus Marcion, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Henrickson Publishers, 1995, Vol. 3, pp. 342-343)
Servant of God, Luisa Piccaretta (1865-1947), wrote 36 volumes directed toward this coming “era of peace” when the kingdom of God will reign “on earth as it is heaven.” Her writings, as of 2010, were granted a “positive” verdict by two Vatican theologians, further paving the way toward her beatification. cf. http://luisapiccarreta.co/?p=2060
In one entry, Jesus says to Luisa:
Ah, my daughter, the creature always races more into evil. How many machinations of ruin they are preparing! They will go so far as to exhaust themselves in evil. But while they occupy themselves in going their way, I will occupy Myself with the completion and fulfillment of My Fiat Voluntas Tua (“Thy will be done”) so that My Will reign on earth—but in an all-new manner. Ah yes, I want to confound man in Love! Therefore, be attentive. I want you with Me to prepare this Era of Celestial and Divine Love… —Jesus to Servant of God, Luisa Piccarreta, Manuscripts, Feb 8th, 1921; excerpt from The Splendor of Creation, Rev. Joseph Innanuzzi, p.80
This reign on earth will be inaugurated by a “new” or “Second Pentecost” upon the entire earth—”upon all flesh.” In the words of Jesus to Venerable María Concepción Cabrera de Armida or “Conchita”:
The time has come to exalt the Holy Spirit in the world… I desire that this last epoch be consecrated in a very special way to this Holy Spirit… It is his turn, it is his epoch, it is the triumph of love in My Church, in the whole universe.—Fr. Marie-Michel Philipon, Conchita: A Mother’s Spiritual Diary, p. 195-196; excerpt from The Splendor of Creation, Rev. Joseph Innanuzzi, p.80
That is to say that Pentecost is not a one-time event, but a grace that will climax in a Second Pentecost when the Holy Spirit will “renew the face of the earth.”
THE GRAIN OF WHEAT FALLS… IN THE DESERT
Thus, we see above in the words of Scripture, the Church Fathers, theologians, and mystics that God is bringing to death His Church, not to destroy her, but so that she may share in the fruits of the Resurrection.
The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, 677
The Charismatic Renewal was a grace implored by Pope Leo XIII and John XXIII to fall upon the Church. In the midst of an accelerating apostasy, the Lord poured out a portion of His Spirit to prepare a remnant. The Charismatic Renewal sparked a “new evangelization” and the revival of the charisms of the Holy Spirit, which have played a significant role in preparing a small army for these times. The impact of the Renewal on Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI alone continues to be felt throughout the entire Church and globe.
While there are many who are no longer active in their local Charismatic prayer groups or associations, they nonetheless experienced the “baptism of the Spirit” and have been given charisms—some which may still be latent and as yet un-released—for the days ahead. They are being prepared for “the final confrontation” of our times against the spirit of this world.
The point of the Charismatic Renewal was not to create prayer meetings that would sustain themselves until the end of time. Rather, we can understand what God is doing in the Renewal by examining the first “baptism in the Spirit” upon the Lord Himself.
After Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit in the Jordan river, the Scriptures say:
Filled with the holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry. (Luke 4:1-2)
After the Holy Spirit began to be poured upon the Church in 1967, two years after the close of Vatican II, one could say that the body of Christ in the ensuing 40 years was led out “into the desert.” cf. What Time Is It? – Part II
…unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. (John 12:24)
Just as Jesus was tempted to materialism, self-glorification, and self-reliance apart from the Father, so too has the Church endured these temptations to test and purifiy her. Thus, the season of the Charismatic Renewal has also been a painful one that has seen its share of divisions and sorrows as each of these temptations has been ceded to. For those who have not abandoned their faith and been docile to the Spirit, the crucible has borne the fruit of a greater obedience, humility, and trust in the Lord.
My child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials…. For in fire gold is tested, and the chosen, in the crucible of humiliation. (Sirach 1:5)
As I wrote in Part IV, the goal of the “outpouring,” “effusion,” “in-filling,” or “baptism” in the Spirit was to produce in God’s children the fruit of holiness. For holiness is the odor of Christ that repels the stench of Satan and attracts unbelievers to the Truth living within. It is through a kenosis, this emptying of self in The Desert of Temptation, that Jesus comes to reign in me such that it is “no longer I but Christ living in me.” cf. Gal 2:20 The Charismatic Renewal, as such then, is not so much dying as it is hopefully maturing, or rather, germinating. The delightful experience of God in the early years through praise and worship, intense prayer, and discovery of the charisms… has given way to the “absence of God” where the soul must choose to love Him whom he cannot see; to trust Him whom she cannot touch; to praise Him who does not seem to answer in return. In a word, God has brought the Church at the end of those forty years to a place where she will either abandon Him, or be hungry for Him.
Jesus… was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days… and when they were over he was hungry.
But read what Luke writes next:
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region. (Luke 4:14)
It is precisely the refinery of the desert cf. Zech 13:9 that strips us of our self-reliance, of our false-notions that we are somehow powerful or in control. It is for this primary work in us that the Spirit has been given, to produce a faith that shines in good works:
…by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body… (Rom 8:13)
When we live in the center of truth, that is, our utter poverty apart from God, it is then that the power of the Holy Spirit can truly work miracles through us. To live in our poverty means to forsake our own will, to pick up our Cross, renounce ourselves, and follow the Divine Will. Jesus warned against the idea that the charismatic gifts were a sign of holiness in and of themselves:
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers. (Matt 7:21-23)
If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. (1 Cor 13:1)
The work of God among His remnant today is to strip us of our will so that we will live, and move, and have our being in His Will. Thus, following in the footsteps of Jesus, we may emerge from the desert as a people ready to move in the power of the Holy Spirit that will destroy Satan’s strongholds and prepare the world, even by our blood, for the birth of a new era of peace, justice, and unity.
Once again, here is that powerful prophecy spoken in the beginning years of the Charismatic Renewal during a gathering with Pope Paul VI in St. Peter’s Square: Watch the webcast series: The Prophecy at Rome
Because I love you, I want to show you what I am doing in the world today. I want to prepare you for what is to come. Days of darkness are coming on the world, days of tribulation… Buildings that are now standing will not be standing. Supports that are there for my people now will not be there. I want you to be prepared, my people, to know only me and to cleave to me and to have me in a way deeper than ever before. I will lead you into the desert… I will strip you of everything that you are depending on now, so you depend just on me. A time of darkness is coming on the world, but a time of glory is coming for my Church, a time of glory is coming for my people. I will pour out on you all the gifts of my Spirit. I will prepare you for spiritual combat; I will prepare you for a time of evangelism that the world has never seen…. And when you have nothing but me, you will have everything: land, fields, homes, and brothers and sisters and love and joy and peace more than ever before. Be ready, my people, I want to prepare you… —given by Dr. Ralph Martin, Pentecost Monday, May, 1975, Rome, Italy
In Part VI, I will explain why the preparation of the Church is a work of Our Lady, and how the popes have been interceding for the coming “New Pentecost”….
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|↑1||see Pope Benedict’s speech where he identifies the world passing into an “eclipse of reason”: On The Eve|
|↑3||cf. The Coming Dominion of the Church|
|↑5||cf. What Time Is It? – Part II|
|↑6||cf. Gal 2:20|
|↑7||cf. Zech 13:9|
|↑8||Watch the webcast series: The Prophecy at Rome|