Touched by the Spirit

 

 

Next month I will be teaching the RCIA class about the Eucharist.  One person I will bring up is Kevin, an usher at our church who was diagnosed with a mass on his brain.  Kevin was taken to Duke where an MRI revealed a 2-inch inoperable tumor.  He was given steroids to prepare for Chemo and I prayed over him before mass to be totally open to the power of the Eucharist.  The doctors gave him another MRI before beginning Chemo.  The tumor was ½ inch.  The doctor was confused because steroids don’t shrink tumors.  It was the power of the Eucharist.  How did I know that would work?  Where did I get that insight?  It was simply the touch of the Holy Spirit.

I was baptized in the Holy Spirit on June 28, 2000.  Looking back now I see His influence in my life.  My understanding of the Eucharist changed dramatically.  I knew Jesus was present in all his power and glory in the Eucharist, the same living person who walked the roads of Galilee and healed all who asked.  I realized through the Spirit that the host is a living person who longs to pour His love upon us, to bless our socks off.  He is Love Incarnate, a love that is all-encompassing and interested in our whole lives not just our salvation. We can come to the Eucharist for everything, help with the stress of teaching junior high or taking care of my month in the last year of her life.  To me Jesus was personally present in the Eucharist and I could come to Him there for everything.  My job is to point to Him and teach people about the awesome incredible love that is present in the Blessed Sacrament, helping them to open to his love.

I also realize in an intimate way the awesomeness and totally of God’s love.  He wants to love us in the here and now, not just in eternity.  With God there is always more, more than He has and more that He wants to give us.  There is no limit to what He can do, only our openness and trust in what He wants to do.

Because of the Spirit’s touch my life changed dramatically.  Not only have I a passion for adoration and the Eucharist but evangelization.  The Spirit has led me into Eucharistic Ministry, the RCIA, Legion of Mary, the charismatic renewal and healing ministries so far.  He’s not done yet.

Where is the Spirit leading you?

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Time For A New Pentecost

I recently read Alan Schreck’s A Mighty Current of Grace, The Story of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. This history is something that all Catholics should be made aware of.  It was very different from what I expected.

Did you know that Pope XIII wrote an encyclical on the Holy Spirit and began the Pentecost novena we say between the feasts of the Ascension and Pentecost in the late 1890’s.  January 1, 1901, he said a votive mass to the Holy Spirit.  The response of the Holy Spirit was to pour out on a Bible class led by Charles Parham in Topeka, Kansas, the very same day.  What does that say about the opposition of many Catholics to ecumenism?

The Popes following Leo XIII had to focus on World War I and II and the struggle against modernism.  However, Pope Pius XII, led by the Spirit, encouraged Catholics to study the Bible and worked towards ecumenism.

It was John XXIII who really got the ball rolling when he called the Second Vatican Council.  His opening prayer said with all the bishops there called for a new Pentecost.  The documents of Vatican II talked about charisms and said the laity should be encouraged by pastors to grow in their use of charisms.  This was before the beginning of the Charismatic Renewal at Duquesne University.

In January 1967, Ralph Kiefer and William Storey, the professors who led the retreat at Duquesne attended a prayer meeting at a neo-Pentecostal church where they were baptized in the Holy Spirit.  A month later they led the retreat of the Chi Rho society at Duquesne where the Holy Spirit fell upon the students as they prayed for the gifts they received in Baptism and Confirmation be activated.

From there the movement spread to Notre Dame and Michigan State where the students had friends.  Prayer groups were established and the one at Notre Dame became a key player in the spread of the Renewal.  Many teachers went to Notre Dame for summer school to work on advance degrees, were exposed to the Renewal and brought it back home.

Because the Renewal spread so rapidly many prayer groups turned to Pentecostal and neo-Pentecostal churches for help praying for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and teachings on charisms.  This was totally new to Catholics but not to Pentecostals.  Many of the first prayer groups were ecumenical.

It is important to note the ecumenical roots of the Renewal.  This was the direction the Holy Spirit was leading us.  You can see this by His response to Leo XIII’s votive mass.  He wants the Church to reach out to other Christians, to pray together and work together to save His people.  It is also important to understand that the Holy Spirit is not limited to Life in the Spirit Seminars.  The Pentecostals and early members of the Renewal never went through a Life in the Spirit seminar.  The first edition of the manual didn’t come out before 1971.  The Holy Spirit can do whatever He wants, come however He wants.

The Baptism in the Holy Spirit was questioned by many Catholics.  Why would we need this if we received the Holy Spirit through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation?  There was a commission established by the Vatican, the Malines commission to investigate.  One of the key members was Joseph Ratzinger.  They proclaimed the Baptism to be real and often necessary.  Unfortunately, many who received the Sacrament of Confirmation were too immature or not taught adequately about the Holy Spirit to really understand the magnitude of the gifts they were receiving.  They were not conscious of the power of the Holy Spirit so that they could respond to the direction of the Holy Spirit.  We need to made a conscious decision to accept the Lord and surrender to His will.

Joseph Ratzinger, of course later became Cardinal Ratzinger and Pope Benedict XVI.  He was very supportive of the Renewal.  In 2008 the Pope prayed in New York for “the grace of a new Pentecost for the Church in America” when he visited New York.  Popes Paul VI and John Paul II also supported the Renewal and met frequently with the leaders of the Renewal.

Pope Francis is again calling for a new Pentecost and has said the only hope for the world is the Holy Spirit.  In meetings with charismatic leaders he calls for everyone to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and for leaders of prayer groups not to withhold the Baptism from those who seek it.  He challenges us to be open to the Spirit and new ways of doing things.  He urges us to reach out to our Christian brethren and pray with them.

We are being called to something totally new.  The Popes have been praying for the Holy Spirit for over a century.  They want everyone to experience the touch of the Holy Spirit.  It is our job to reach out to bring people into a new deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit.  We are called to be the Spirit’s instruments in bringing about the New Pentecost Vatican II prayed for.  How will you respond?

Pray Boldly With Faith!

Our prayer group was blessed by the visit of a snow bird, Larry, who was involved in an ecumenical healing ministry in Michigan. Of course we took advantage of the opportunity to be prayed over. One thing I noticed about the way Larry prayed over people was that it was simple, direct and bold. “ In the name of Jesus I command this shoulder to be healed. “ No wishy-washy prayers, no rambling prayers and no doubt that God would answer his prayer and no suggestions to try anti-inflammatory medicine or to do less for God, he just prayed in faith that God would do ask he asked. Isn’t this what the early disciples did?
Isn’t this what we are called to do? We possess the same Holy Spirit as the early disciples. The Spirit we possess is not watered down but present in all His power and love which He passionately longs to pour out upon the world. We have not been given the Holy Spirit to keep for ourselves. We are called to reach out to the people around us and bring His love.
We live in a world desperately in need of God’s love and mercy. We are the people God has created and raised up as His instruments to bring His love to the world. So, why are we holding back? Why are we timid? Why do we lack confidence?
Is our mistake that we think in depends on us? Do we feel inadequate praying over someone? Jesus promised in John 14:12 that we would do greater works than the ones He did. Three times so far this Easter Season we’ve heard that promise. How often have we heard that Promise? When is it going to sink in that He meant it?
We are called to reach out in faith and trust God to do what is best for the people we are reaching out to. Our success does not depend on our abilities or inadequacies but on the infinite love of an almighty God.

Are We Really Different From Judas?

Are We Really Different From Judas?

It is so easy to point fingers at Judas, Peter and the crowd at the Passion and look down on them and feel superior. The question we have to ask ourselves is whether we are really any different. Sure we haven’t received 30 pieces of silver but haven’t we often sold Jesus out for other reasons? Maybe we gone against his teachings to fit in, to be accepted, for prestige or to get ahead in the company.

Are we not like Peter when we fail to stand up for Christ on the issues of the day? Are we often silent on issues related to traditional marriage, cohabitation, pornography, discrimination and economic justice? We don’t want to offend the crowd or stand out. Are we not more worried about what people will think than how our cowardice hurts Jesus again? How many times have we kept our mouths close about the trash on TV or the immorality of the latest # 1 movie? We don’t want people to think we are old-fashioned?

Have we really stood up for Jesus on any issue unpopular with modern society? Have we risk rejection by people because of our standing for Jesus? How often? How can we point the finger at Judas or Peter when we are also lacking in courage and corrupted by a desire to fit in and get ahead? Are we really willing to sacrifice for Christ or do we just want to fit in and get ahead?

The Same Power

There is a song , popular on Christian radio, Same Power by Jeremy Camp, that I first heard as I left the SC Charismatic Conference in October, 2015. It was the very first song I heard after I got into my car and it struck me as confirmation of the conference and the Charismatic Renewal.
The chorus reads like this; “The same power that rose Jesus from the grave, the same power that commands the dead to wake lives in us, lives in us. The same power that moves mountains when He speaks, the same powers that can calm a raging sea, lives in us, lives in us. He lives in us, lives in us”.
How true. We have the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit given to the disciples at Pentecost. We been given awesome gifts and we live in a world desperately in need of those gifts. So many around us are wounded in one way or another, whether spiritually, emotionally or physically. It is impossible for our priests and deacons to meet the needs of all those who need someone to pray with them.
We have been given these gifts for a reason. Take a good look at the world around us. Outside of our technological advances are we really any different from Pagan Rome? The Roman Empire was converted because the first Christians weren’t afraid to use the charismatic gifts God had given them. Why are we afraid to use these gifts? Why do we keep them secret as if we are ashamed of them? Why do we worry about what people will think?
Aren’t we called to step out in faith? Didn’t St Francis challenge us to be fools for Christ? Didn’t Jesus promise that we would do greater things than He? Is it a coincidence that the Catholic Charismatic Renewal began as our country was turning pagan?
We’ve been given the power to change the world, to turn this country back to God and to bring people back to the Church. We need to use this power. It is the only way we can change our country and the world for the better. Politics is not the answer, God and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are.
Pray with people; use the charismatic gifts God has given you. Reach out to those around you. Don’t be afraid or ashamed. The Holy Spirit is calling us to action. He will provide us all we need.

The Kind Of Homily Jesus Would Love!

This morning I heard an awesome homily. Possibly one of the best I ever heard. Father preached about Paul’s line in Hebrews 13:8. “Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever.” He is the first non-charismatic priest I ever heard point out that the Jesus we meet at mass is the same Jesus who multiplied the loaves, raised the dead and healed the sick.
Isn’t that what Jesus would want us to know? So often when we hear about the Real Presence it seems that Jesus is only present and interested in our spiritual well-being that He isn’t interested in our health or other problems. We vaguely imply that Jesus would bless us in communion but don’t really expect Him to do anything.
Yet in the Gospels we read so often that Jesus’ heart was moved with compassion. We see especially in Matthew that He healed all who came to Him in faith. We see Him changing water into wine. He sought the Samaritan woman at the well. He fed the multitudes so that they would not faint on their way home. Does this seem like a Jesus who only cares about us spiritually?
Didn’t He invite us to come to Him? Didn’t He come so that we might have life and have it abundantly? Didn’t He create the Eucharist as a means for us to come to Him? Isn’t He infinite love incarnate?
Our faith teaches that Jesus is present in the Eucharist in all of His Divinity and in all of His humanity. He is present in all of his power and infinite love. He passionately desires that we come to Him. He longs to bless us to knock our socks off. He is infinite love and infinite wisdom come down to earth in the form of a simple host and wine. The all-powerful God awaits us each time we come to communion so why do we expect so little.
This is the living Jesus in all of His power and glory! Open your hearts, allow Him to do what is best for you. Ask for everything He wants to give and expect miracles.

What Does Jesus Want Us to Know About The Eucharist?

Last night I taught the RCIA class about the Eucharist. After listening to what other members of the team felt was important to include, listening to several Cd’s, watching a video and reading many articles. I thought the most important thing was to be open to the Holy Spirit and think about what Jesus would want us to know.
I am really truly here, present in each host, present in all my power and divinity. I am not a symbol, not just a wafer or a watered down diluted version of myself. I am Jesus Christ present in all my power and glory. I am the same Jesus that walked the dusty roads of Galilee, the God-man who healed the paralytic, walked on water , calmed the storm, fed 5,000 with 5 loaves and a few fish and raised Lazarus from the dead.
I am the same Jesus who loved you so much I endured the most painful death in all of history so that you might spend eternity with me. I am the Jesus who could not bear to leave you, could not wait for you to die so I created the Eucharist as a way to be with you right now.
My love for you is so great, so immense, human words are absolutely inadequate to describe it. Niagara Falls pales in comparison to the love and blessings I long to pour out upon you.
I long for you to come to me. I long to bless you. I know you intimately. I know everything about you. I see all your physical weaknesses and problems, all the ways you suffered physically. I know how much you have suffered emotionally, how many times you have been hurt by others and all the times you have hurt yourself. I see how you beat yourself up, how you find it so difficult to forgive yourself, so difficult to love yourself. I see the sins that trap you and I passionately long to set you free, to make you a new creature in me.
I long for you to come to me in the Eucharist, come to me with an open heart, trusting me to pour my love upon you and do what is best. My desire is for you to be healed completely, whole and to know me intimately in communion, to know and experience my love. Come to me and open your heart so I may pour my love upon you.