Dear Readers of The Flame

Pope John Paul II was a holy, courageous wise pastor for the Universal church. He saw things with clarity. He was animated by pastoral charity. He served the church well. I really believe that we have been privileged to be alive during his pontificate.

I was in the Pope’s presence four times. Twice I as at Papal masses-once in St. Peter’s in 1984 and once in Bethlehem Square during the Jubilee year. In 1987, Fr. Harry Winca and myself represented our diocese when he addressed the priests of the United States in Miami . At that meeting I shook his hand. Finally, I attended a General Audience (with about 10,000 other people) in 2002. These encounters are gifts from the Lord to me. 

Though the media coverage of Pope John Paul II sickness, death and funeral have been extensive, I cannot let this moment pass by without quoting the Pope’s encouraging words to charismatic renewal. Here are two of Pope John Paul II messages to the renewal: 

The first was in 1998, the Year of the Holy Spirit, as we prepared for the great Jubilee year 2000. During an Evening Prayer service on the Vigil of Pentecost, the Pope told members of a variety of renewal movements (500,000 had gathered in St. Peters Square that evening) “that the charismatic and hierarchical elements of the Church are co-essential to the Church’s constitution.” More than mere theologizing, the recognition that the charismatic element of the Church is constitutive, highlights the need for us to be open to and use the gifts of the Holy Spirit. 

Also on the eve of Pentecost, just last year, in May of 2004, Pope John Paul II addressed members of the charismatic renewal.  

 3. …Thanks to the Charismatic Movement, a multitude of Christians, men and women, young people and adults have rediscovered Pentecost as a living reality in their daily lives. I hope that the spirituality of Pentecost will spread in the Church as a renewed incentive to prayer, holiness, communion and proclamation.  

 

          1920 - 2005  

By these words the Pope gave the charismatic movement its marching orders. We are to spread the spirituality of Pentecost (the italics are in the talk at the Vatican website) throughout the church. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the church is to be renewed in the art of prayer, in holiness, in unity and its mission of proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord.

Thank God for Pope John Paul II!!!

I hope to see you at our annual Pentecost celebration on Sunday, May 15 at St. Bridget Parish in Parma . The mass will be at 2:00 PM . In addition, we will have a traveling mass at Our Lady of the Angel’s Parish on the west side of Cleveland on Tuesday, May 23 at 7:30 PM .

Due to the lead time needed to print, label and mail The Flame, I am writing this article between Popes. In anticipation of a new Pope, let us pledge to him our prayers as we together serve our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sincerely in Christ, 

Fr. Bob Franco