fTHER The Flame: May & June, 2007

Dear Readers of The Flame,

Last month I attended the board meeting for Fraternity of Priests, an international charismatic brotherhood of priests. Our meeting was at Providence Villa Retreat House, located in the North Hills area of Pittsburgh.

Fr. John Sweeny, the leader of the local fraternity in Pittsburgh, informed me that this was the retreat center where the 1967 Duquesne weekend took place. Our meeting began with an hour of prayer in the chapel where the Spirit fell so tangibly on Patti Gallagher Mansfield, Dave Mangen and a number of other college students in February of that year.

We had a powerful prayer time. I could not help but think of all that the Spirit did over the years in the lives of millions of people and in the life of the Church since that weekend. One of the priests had vision of a trickling stream that grew and grew into a mighty river, similar to the vision that Ezekiel the prophet had. (Ezekiel 47:1-12)

And so it has been with charismatic renewal. Over the years, through every strata of Church life and in every place where the Church is, the life and charisms of the Spirit have flowed. Pope John XXIII’s prayer in preparation of the Vatican II, “renew Your wonders as by a new Pentecost”, was answered in a marvelous and unexpected way.

The charisms of the Spirit, previously described in a few dusty theological dictionaries before Vatican II, were written into the council document The Dogmatic Constitution of the Church (Lumen Gentium #12). The gifts spoken of in the document appeared in fresh and wonderful ways in February of 1967. This movement of the Spirit was affirmed by hierarchy of the Church to the point that Pope John Paul II stated in his meeting with Ecclesial Movements and New Communities on the eve of Pentecost (May 30, 1998):

Whenever the Spirit intervenes, he leaves people astonished. He brings about events of amazing newness; he radically changes persons and history. This was the unforgettable experience of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council during which, under the guidance of the same Spirit, the Church rediscovered the charismatic dimension as one of her constitutive elements…The institutional and charismatic aspects are co-essential as it were to the Church's constitution. They contribute, although differently, to the life, renewal and sanctification of God's People. It is from this providential rediscovery of the Church's charismatic dimension that, before and after the Council, a remarkable pattern of growth has been established for ecclesial movements and new communities.

Pope John Paul II is using the word charism in a broader way than our experience of the charismatic renewal. He is also referring to the new religious communities that have sprung over the last century. However, included in his use of the word charism are the charisms we experience in our prayer groups, healing teams, and evangelistic efforts.

As prayer groups begin Life in the Spirit Seminars in preparation for Pentecost 2007, pray that many people respond to these events. The heavenly spigot has not been turned off! We desire an ever fresh encounter with the Holy Spirit that we might give clear witness to the person of Jesus Christ in powerful ways! May the whole Church be saturated afresh with the life giving wisdom, power and love of the Holy Spirit!

Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Bob Franco

PS: Our Pentecost mass was held on Sunday, May 27 at 2:00 PM. We gathered at St. Michael Church (Independence). There was prayer for baptism in the Holy Spirit, prayer for healing, and social following. Thank you for coming!!!