The Flame: January/February 2018
Dear Readers of The Flame,
This is sort of an anniversary for me. This is my 150th letter
for The Flame. That number also translates into another
anniversary of sorts. Since The Flame is published six times
a year, 150 Flames translates to completing 25 years as the
Bishop’s Delegate to Catholic Renewal Ministries. Tempus
fugit! (Translation from Latin: Time flies!). What have I seen
in those 25 years?
God is amazing. I have been to many conferences, days of
renewal, Life in the Spirit Seminars, charismatic and healing
Masses and prayer groups. I have witnessed people being
healed and others being converted. I have seen people
freed from the power of evil and others healed of internal
brokenness. In all of these events, I have been amazed by
the way the Lord shows up and shows off! And just when
you think you have gotten things figured out, the Lord does
something even more amazing.
The Lord is faithful and merciful. I have met many people
through my work with the renewal. Most of them have been
local. Some of the people I have met have been in other
parts of the country and the world. Some of the events CRM
has put on have been intercultural events, gathering
Hispanic, Filipino, Korean, Vietnamese, Indian and African
Catholic charismatics together. Our Pentecost celebration in
the Jubilee Year 2000 was an event that was especially
memorable. All these people knew the power of the Holy
Spirit through the Catholic charismatic renewal.
I have met charismatics of every stripe. I have met
charismatics who had doctorates in various branches of
science as well as salt of the earth people who keep our
society running. I have met teenagers who were
transformed by the renewal, elderly who continue to rejoice
in the Lord and everyone in between. In the midst of it all, I
have seen that the Lord is faithful and merciful to his
people. He has broken into our lives and continues to
empower us to proclaim Jesus Christ is Lord in the power of
the Holy Spirit.
I am a sinner. Through the years the Lord has confirmed
the truth of my own brokenness. In spite of my good
intentions, I know that I have fallen short of the glory of God
(Romans 3:23). I do not fret about this. I am just aware that I
need the saving grace and mercy of the Lord on a daily
basis. My prayer is: Keep it up Lord! There is more of me to
I have seen much more in the last 25 years. However, I
want to spend a moment reflecting on where we are
In the 25 years that I have been the Bishop’s delegate to
Catholic Renewal Ministries, I have seen the Catholic
charismatic renewal shrink. This is not a local phenomenon.
In the United States the renewal has gotten smaller and
grayer. The same can be said for the Catholic Church in
general in our country. However, I have witnessed another
phenomenon that is very hopeful.
Many parishes are offering programs like Discovering Christ
by Christlife and Alpha. These and similar processes (most of
them are really based on The Life in the Spirit Seminar) bring
people to a commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and an
experience of the Holy Spirit, including the use of charisms.
Many parishes are training people to be part of healing teams.
These teams pray with people after their regular Sunday
Masses. Other parishes are really seeking to bring people to a
sense of intentional discipleship and to discovering their
charisms to be used for the good of their parishes and the
Ralph Martin has summed up this movement in the Church as
going from convention to conviction. For generations the
Church simply maintained itself institutionally. People
worshipped, celebrated the sacraments and then blended
back into a mostly Christian culture. With the onslaught of
secularization, people do not follow the conventions of the
past. They are either convinced Catholic Christians or they are
not Catholic at all.
Moving from convention to conviction is the work of the
Holy Spirit. Jesus told us:
And when He (the Advocate) comes he will convict
the world in regard to sin and righteousness and
condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in
me; righteousness, because I am going to the Father
and you will no longer see me; condemnation,
because the ruler of this world has been condemned.
This convincing power of the Holy Spirit enables us to see
who Jesus truly is, how right the ways of God really are and
how wrong the ways of the world are!
The Spirit is continuing to speak to the Church the truth of
Jesus Christ the Lord. And as we become more convinced, we
will walk in the power of the Holy Spirit at ever deepening
As we begin this year 2018, let us pray to live in the power
of the Holy Spirit ever more deeply. Set upon the rock -
solid faith of the Catholic Church, may our lips and lives
fearlessly proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord!
Fr. Bob Franco
Bishop’s Delegate to Catholic Renewal Ministries