I experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit 37 years ago. It was on Saturday evening, April 5, 1975 during a Life in the Spirit Seminar at St. Joseph Christian Life Center.
I sometimes wonder, “What has kept me faithful to this renewal movement? Why is this experience more than a happy memory for me?” Ultimately, the reason is God’s grace. However, God’s grace needs our acceptance. We need to avail ourselves to God’s grace. We need to make use of the means of God’s grace.
At the end of July CRM sponsored its 30th annual charismatic conference, Let the Fire Fall. It was a wonderful event in which all who participated were refreshed, empowered and equipped by the Holy Spirit to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord. The question is: how do we keep this and other encounters with the Lord from simply becoming a happy memory? How can we remain faithful to the graces we have received?
There are three levels by which we remain faithful to the graces of this renewal movement. The first level is the personal level. We need to pray, read and ponder the sacred scriptures and deepen our personal relationship with the Lord. There is no substitute for this.
The second level is the communal. This is a bit more challenging and in some ways more necessary. We need to gather with like minded people to share our lives and seek the Lord together. Prayer meetings and small faith sharing groups make this communal dimension of our faith a reality. This keeps the flame of faith burning brightly in a person’s life. Take a log out of the fire and it will cool down and perhaps go out. Keep the log with other logs in the fire, and it will burn brightly. We need personal fellowship to “kindle afresh the gift of God that is within” us (II Timothy 1:6).
The third level is that of mission. Pope Paul VI best summed this up by saying, “She [the Church] exists in order to evangelize, that is to say, in order to preach and teach, to be the channel of the gift of grace, to reconcile sinners with God, and to perpetuate Christ's sacrifice in the Mass, which is the memorial of His death and glorious resurrection.” (On Evangelization in the Modern World, #14) The Church can only effectively evangelize if individual Catholics commit themselves to do it. We are witnesses of Jesus Christ. We can be lousy witnesses or we can witness in the power of the Holy Spirit. We need to have a missionary mentality, desiring to make Christ known through our personal and corporate efforts. Christ is counting on us. People will be influenced toward heaven or hell because of our clear witness or insipid indifference. Let us commit ourselves to be faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ, true missionaries of the Lord wherever He has placed us.
One of the oldest “contemporary” Catholic songs from the 1960’s are entitled “Here We Are”. Part of the first verse of the song goes, “Keep the fire burning, kindle it with care…” The fire of the Holy Spirit has fallen. By God’s grace let us keep it burning and carefully fulfilling our personal, corporate and missionary duties. If we do so, we will “keep the flame of faith alive” in our hearts so that “when the Lord comes” we may “go out to meet Him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom.” (Rite of Baptism, based on Matthew 25:1-13).
Please check out our website at to find charismatic prayer groups and other faith building events.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Bob Franco