The Flame: May & June 2006

Dear Readers of The Flame,

Fr. Robert McCreary, a Capuchin Franciscan at the Seminary, recently asked me about the charismatic renewal in the diocese of Cleveland . I gave him some of my pat answers: older, quieter, the renewal is in need of renewal, there some bright spots, et cetera. However, in a moment I found myself speaking of the need to seek spiritual gifts.

Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts…” (I Corinthians 12:31a). St. Paul said this after describing the various roles and gifts that the Spirit gives individuals. “Some people God has designated in the church to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then mighty deeds, healing, assistance, administration and varieties of tongues.” (I Corinthians 12:28) In I Corinthians 13, he described the “greater way”, which is love. However, chapter 14 picks up with where chapter 12 ended: “Pursue love, but strive eagerly for the spiritual gifts, above all that you may prophesy.”

My words to Fr. McCreary, and a seminarian who was listening in, almost bordered on preaching. What I said was that we are seeing less spiritual gifts because we are seeking them out less! I do not see many people striving eagerly after spiritual gifts.

I realize that the Christian life and even charismatic renewal are much more than spiritual gifts. However, one of the characteristics of charismatic renewal is charisms! And one of the avenues of being open to these gifts is striving eagerly for them. I realize the Vatican II document on the Church (Lumen Gentium) cautions against rashly seeking extraordinary spiritual gifts (paragraph 12). However, as the saying goes, “The one who aims at nothing usually hits it!” Without being rash we need to seek the gifts of the Spirit for the building up of the Church.

I invite you to join me in praying for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church of Cleveland .

This is an important time for our diocese and the charismatic renewal in our diocese. Our new Bishop, Richard G. Lennon, will be installed on May 15. Four charismatic prayer groups are putting on Life in the Spirit Seminars in a simultaneous manner in May and June. Both our new bishop and the prayer

groups participating in the simultaneous Life in the Spirit Seminars need our prayer. Join me in prayer as we strive eagerly for all that the Holy Spirit has for us.

Here are two ways of doing that: Pray the Burning Bush Pentecost Novena (pages six and seven of The Flame). This is worldwide movement has its origin at the beginning of the 20th century. A German woman named Kim Catherine-Marie Kollins has rekindled this practice at the beginning of the 21st. I would love to see everyone’s copy of The Flame a little “dog eared” because they have been praying these prayers!

Secondly, come to this year’s Pentecost Mass at St. Michael’s Parish in Independence on Sunday, June 4 at 2:00 PM. We will pray for those who are making the Life in the Spirit Seminars, as well as each other and our whole diocese. We want to receive all the new gifts and graces that the Holy Spirit has for us.

Eagerly seeking the fullness of the Spirit,

Fr. Bob Franco