The Flame: November & December 2005
Dear Readers of The
I did not know if it was a prelude of heaven or a review of Pentecost. However, I knew that it was a gift from God.
I received a monetary gift earlier this year to attend an
international charismatic retreat for priests in Ars,
This retreat, which took place from September 25 through October 1, was an amazing event. 846 priests from 71 countries attended the retreat. At least sixteen bishops including two cardinals participated in this event. Given the size of Ars, most of us stayed at hotels outside of this little village. We were bussed in by for song, praise and Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours. We were taken back to our hotels around 10:00 PM. The days were long but fruitful.
My initial impression was that this retreat was a slice from heaven. Though most retreats have a way of getting one in touch with the Lord in a deeper way, the international nature of this event made me think of the words of the Book of Revelation,
“…I had a vision of a great multitude…from every nation, race, people and tongue before the throne of the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm…they cried out, ‘Salvation is from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.’” (Revelation 7:9,10)
Our Eucharistic celebrations, complete with incense, white robes and many languages, cried out “Salvation is from our God!”
The event was hosted by the Community of the Beatitudes, a
charismatic religious community of lay people, vowed religious men and women,
and priests. They served as the organizers and hosts, as well as led us in song
and assisted in various roles during our liturgies. Sr. Briege McKenna and Fr.
Kevin Scallon from
As the retreat went on, the image of Pentecost came to
mind. This gathering was the Pentecost of both the Upper Room and the streets.
It was an “upper room” experience because it was certainly a time of prayer,
healing and equipping by the Holy Spirit from which we priests were launched
outward to the ends of the earth. And with priests from seventy one countries
there, we were more diverse than the “Parthians, Medes…Elamites” and
others (Acts 2:9) that had gathered in the streets of
I treasure the many personal graces of this week: encountering priests from all over the world who live their priesthood in the power of the Holy Spirit…being able to call upon the intercession of St. John Vianney, St. Therese the Little Flower (her traveling relics were at the retreat), and St. Margaret Mary (the one who had the apparitions of Jesus and the Sacred Heart)…participating in an outdoor Eucharistic procession through the streets of Ars with hundreds of priests. I pray that the graces of this retreat would bear fruit in my life and ministry as a priest.
Earlier I mentioned that I was given a gift to go on this
retreat. That gift was given anonymously. If that donor is a reader of The
Flame, THANK YOU!
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Bob Franco
PS: I sincerely wish each of you and your loved ones a
blessed Thanksgiving gathering and happy and holy Christmas. These holidays call
us to give thanks and praise to God for his wonderful mercies fully revealed in
Jesus Christ. And for the ways that you have blessed and assisted CRM by your
presence, prayers and gifts, I want to offer you my thanks. God’s best to you