fTHERThe Flame: January & February,
2008 Dear Readers of The Flame,

The second principle of Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is “Begin with the end in mind”. As we begin the New Year, the liturgical season of Ordinary Time commences with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This wonderful feast is a theophany of the Holy Trinity (the Father’s voice, the presence of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, and Jesus, the Word made flesh) and the beginning of public ministry of Jesus. The “end” that the Father had in mind was the salvation of the world through His Son.

This time of year is also a wonderful time for us to reflect on our own baptism as well as our experience of the baptism in the Spirit. What is the “end” that God had in mind for us? Why have we encountered the Lord Jesus in so powerful a way? Was it simply to give us a wonderful spiritual experience, a happy memory? Or was there another purpose?

Jesus said: You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, even to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)We have encountered the Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit for the purpose of becoming His witnesses. This is the end the Lord had in mind when He poured out the Holy Spirit upon us. If the salvation of Jesus Christ won by His death and resurrection is to effectively reach other people, it will do so by our witness to Him.

I think we need to be reminded of this. If our experience of the Holy Spirit is more of a “happy memory” than a living relationship, we need to “stir into a flame the gift of God”. (see II Timothy 1:6-8) It is not about us. It is about the Lord and our witness to Him in deed and word.                       

This spring CRM will again encourage and support prayer groups in offering Life in the Spirit Seminars. These programs not only help people to  encounter the Lord Jesus in power of the Holy Spirit. They also give us a special opportunity to witness to Jesus Christ. Details will follow in the next issues of The Flame.  However, in the meantime, let us make it our daily prayer:  

Lord Jesus, teach me to witness in the Power of Your Holy Spirit today.

I believe that the Lord will answer that prayer. Pray it early in the day. He will make us sensitive to the opportunities that abound around us. Our witnessing may be as simple as being kind to the cashier in the grocery store or as lofty as praying for healing with a friend in front of the frozen food section. Our desire is to radiate Jesus Christ in all of life’s circumstances, especially in whatever vocation or state of life that Lord has placed us. The Holy Spirit equips us to fulfill our responsibilities in a way that will lead others to Christ.

St. Paul tells us: Because of his mercy he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior. (Titus 3:5b-6)

May this year be a season of deepening our life in the Spirit. We want to grow closer to the Lord. He will make us his fruitful witnesses. This is the “end” for which He has created us.

Sincerely in Christ,

Fr. Bob Franco


PS: Quick book review: The Fulfillment of All Desire by Ralph Martin (Emmaus Road Publishing, 2006) This is the best book on the spiritual life that I have read in a long time, perhaps ever. Based on the writings of Sts. Augustine, Bernard, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Francis de Sales, and Therese of Lisieux, Ralph guides the reader through the traditional “purgative, illuminative, and unitive” stages of the spiritual life. A wonderful read anytime, it would be especially fitting for Lent. (Ash Wednesday is February 6th!)