The Flame: January & February, 2007

Dear Readers of The Flame,

This February marks the 40th anniversary of the modern Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church. Beginning with a dozen or so college students at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, this renewal has breathed life into the Church and her mission in ways that we will only know about in heaven.

I was a freshman in college when I was swept up into the Charismatic Renewal. At the time I was attending that small Christian college (tongue in cheek) called Ohio State University. A number of circumstances led me to begin attending a prayer meeting there. A number of miracles brought me to a Life in the Spirit Retreat weekend at St. Joseph Christian Life Center. On Saturday, April 5, 1975 I prayed the blank check prayer (Lord Jesus, I give you my life! Do with me what you want!) and was marvelously baptized in the Spirit.

My life radically changed. I had a new taste for the things of God. I wanted to pray. The scriptures came alive for me. I had a new desire and ability to share my faith with others. I wanted them to come to know Jesus as I had. I desired to worship Him. I had a great hunger for the things of God. I had a lessening desire for the things of this world. And there were certain things that I just disdained.

Eventually I did end up a small Christian college: Borromeo Seminary! After graduating from there in 1978, and four more years at St. Mary Seminary, I was ordained a priest in 1982. The rest, as they say, is history.

The psalmist wrote, “He makes us remember his wonders.” (Psalm 111:4, Grail Translation).

God wants us to review our encounters with Him. These are the events that put us onto a highway called “the holy way” where the redeemed walk (Isaiah 35:7-8). By recounting the deeds of the Lord in our lives we  are less likely to stray from Him. We are warned repeatedly in sacred scripture (Deuteronomy 4, Psalm 78:7, and others) not to forget the deeds of the Lord.

As we go through this anniversary year, I would encourage you to make it a point to recall how the Lord brought you to conversion and baptized you in the Holy Spirit. As you review these events give thanks to the Lord. His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23). “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) The Lord continues to pour out his Spirit. May we continue to allow Him to fill us!

And may our gratitude spill into sharing our faith with others. People need to drink of the same life-giving waters of the Spirit from which we drink! (Revelation 22:17) Fret not-the spring is inexhaustible!

In the Spirit of Jesus Christ,

Fr. Bob Franco
PS: I want to invite you to the Leadership Formation for Charismatic Renewal series. These three Saturday mornings in January will help those who participate be better equipped the serve the charismatic renewal. St. Peter exhorts us, “Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (II Peter 3:18a) See the upcoming events section of this edition of The Flame for details.