Holy Spirit – Source of Renewal and Evangelizing Strength

God cares! On the heels of the Second Vatican Council, the charismatic movement arose to take on a significant role in the Church’s mission. It began in 1967, a time of civil unrest in the United States, particularly on college campuses and in inner city ghettoes. Vietnam demonstrations, civil rights protests, and racial riots were regular features on the evening news. Then there was the unspeakable demoralization that followed the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy.

God Intervenes

One part of God’s merciful response to the world’s woes at this time was to touch a small group of college students at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In February 1967, these students, some of whom had already embraced the underpinnings of the Gospel message through the Cursillo movement, gathered for a weekend retreat on the Holy Spirit… They emerged with the goals of inspiring faith, praying with others, sharing the Gospel message, and highlighting the role of the Spirit. Just six years later, in 1973, thirty-five thousand Catholics of all ages gathered for a national conference at Notre Dame University—both to celebrate the Spirit and to seek his strength and empowerment as Jesus’s followers. And so began a new openness to baptism in the Spirit and to the charismatic renewal among Catholics, mostly through prayer groups.

Marks of Renewal

The spread of prayer groups in the first decades of the renewal brought forth several spiritual phenomena. The first was spontaneous group prayer, which became the context for praying in tongues and for gestures like raising one’s arms to God. The second was meditation on Scripture passages and their prophetic meaning, a form of lectio divina, Latin for “sacred reading.” The third was individual prayer for healing and other needs, through the laying on of hands and group intercessory prayer. The fourth was inspired teaching, to advance the faith formation of those present. Even now, we see these phenomena filtering into faith-sharing groups plus parish and regional ministries, thus bringing the best of the Renewal and its spiritual riches into the whole Church.

Golden Jubilee Challenge

This year we celebrate fifty years of charismatic renewal, or what Pope Francis refers to as a “current of grace…a renewing breath of the Holy Spirit for all the members of the Church.” This ongoing blessing and challenge is meant to raise questions in us.

  • Have I accepted the proclamation of salvation in Jesus? Have I been transformed by the Good News? Has this transformation filtered into every fiber of my being, every thought and action?
  • Am I ready to share my faith and let God’s love spill out on those around me, through the charisms and fruits of the Holy Spirit that I am being given?”
  • Am I open to evangelizing, to giving flesh to the message of Jesus in word and deed, knowing that the Holy Spirit will change hearts and minds? Will I move from accidental kindnesses and invisible beliefs toward intentional acts of faith that enable others to experience Jesus in new ways?

excerpted from our newly revised and expanded booklet: An Introduction to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

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HAIL MAMA MARY, We Need Help!

On May 28, 1792 when there were barely two dozen priests and 35,000  Catholics in this country, John Carroll, first bishop of the United States, entrusted us all to Mary, the Mother of Jesus.  Several generations later, in 1846, the bishops of the United States unanimously chose Mary, to be the Patroness of the United States of America. Closer to our time and during his first Pastoral Visit to the United States in October 1979, Pope St. John Paul II entrusted all of us to the Blessed Virgin at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Now it is time for all of us to approach Mary for help again.

We think one way to do this is to create personalized, spontaneous litanies for the leaders of our country, especially when feeling anxious about a newscast or social media post.  Therese stumbled upon this way to pray when she was very concerned about a grown child. Repetition of this brief prayer form has given Therese great relief.

Step One:  Greet Mary by praying the entire Hail Mary or through a song.

Step Two: Prayerfully repeat just the second half of the Hail Mary for the struggling political leader or government official. No need to write anything down. Just pray for whomever comes to mind.

Holy Mary, mother of God and mother of  __________    (name), pray for us [optional: now and at the hour of our death. Amen.]

Spend as little as five minutes or as long as twenty minutes; either praying for this one person over and over again, or pray for several people, one at a time, repeating step two with another name for as long as necessary. “Pray FOR US” is an important act of compassionate solidarity for the leader in question.

Step Three: End by thanking God for listening and by reading Psalm 23.

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Prayer: Tapping into the Power and Roots of Evangelizing Love

St. Thérèse of Lisieux first began to pray for the conversion of others by praying for a hardened criminal who was to be hanged. And at the last possible moment, this man grasped the crucifix in a priest’s hand and kissed Jesus.

The first truth behind intercessory prayer is that we join in God’s work to overcome all obstacles to his love for us and for others. We might use psalms, Mass readings, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, silence, tears, descriptions of another’s needs, or worship music. The possibilities are endless but the decision is the same. We submit ourselves and others to God in prayer.

Second, we pray so that the seeds of God’s love within us will grow, helping us build life-giving relationships that both imitate Christ’s life and connect others to Jesus.  Then our continued, ongoing surrender to the Holy Spirit, actually creates an atmosphere of love in which virtues become tested paths for relationships. Through grace, both we and those we love through prayer are grafted, as small twigs or large branches, onto an ever-expanding vine that courses with the love of the Trinity in daily life.

Third, we can ask for and receive virtues like respect, forgiveness, gratitude, affirming others, patience, honesty, and a healing presence through the power of the Holy Spirit. And finally, we can become more sensitive to the Holy Spirit, who is the primary agent of evangelization. We can open ourselves to the Spirit’s power and compassionate wisdom, guiding us in the details of what to say and do as we bring others to Jesus. So take heart about those who seem hopeless.

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life…  nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)

Excerpted from Mending Broken Relationships

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