The Flame: July/August 2014
Dear Readers of The Flame,
One phrase that St. John Paul II began to use with some frequency during the second half of his pontificate was the new evangelization. The Church often used the term evangelization to refer to the preaching of the gospel to people who never heard of Jesus. St. John Paul II described the new evangelization as the Church’s preaching of the gospel to people who were baptized but never became disciples of Jesus.
The thrust towards a new evangelization gained traction throughout the Church over the last twenty years. In September 2010, it culminated with Pope Benedict XVI establishing the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. More recently, it has begun to dawn on people that if we are really going to have a new evangelization we will also need a New Pentecost. If the Church’s initial evangelization could not get off the ground without Pentecost, what makes us think that the new evangelization will be effective without the power, Person and gifts of the Holy Spirit?
Later this month, Catholic Renewal Ministries will be hosting the annual Catholic charismatic conference. It will be July 18-19, 2014 at Magnificat High School. The theme this year will be “Gifted to Serve”. The theme comes from I Peter 4:10-11, which reads:
As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace. Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God; whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
In keeping with the plan of the National Service Committee as we journey toward the 50th anniversary of the modern charismatic renewal in 2017, the focus this year is the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Again, if we are to effectively carry out a new evangelization, it will happen because we are empowered and gifted with the Holy Spirit.
The grace of the Holy Spirit gives us the understanding and fervor of missionaries. We realize that bringing people to Christ and making them his disciples is of utmost importance. Their salvation depends on it! However, the Holy Spirit equips individuals to fulfill this missionary activity with a variety of gifts. Not everyone will preach. Not everyone will be given gifts of healing. Not everyone will organize and administrate the local expressions of the new evangelization. However, the Holy Spirit will give gifts to everyone so that the Church will be an effective net, hauling in a net full of souls.
The new evangelization will take place when, united in the Holy Spirit, God's people, as good stewards, serve one another, following after the example of the Lord Jesus himself, who came, “not to be served but to serve.” (Mark 10:45)
I not only invite you to our local conference. I invite you to invite someone to come with you! We all need to be refreshed in the Holy Spirit. We all need to have our missionary zeal rekindled. And we all need to play our part in the body of Christ to bring others to Him. Perhaps we are clear what our role is and what gifts we have. Others may not be so sure of their gifts. Either way, come to the conference! Corporately, we will be refreshed and empowered to be the Lord’s witnesses. Individually we will be equipped with the gifts of the Holy Spirit to “serve the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:2) by serving each other out of love.
Fr. Bob Franco