fTHERThe Flame: May/June 2018
Dear Readers of The Flame,

Pentecost is the third greatest feast on the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar. Right behind Christmas and Easter, Pentecost is the last great in-breaking of God before the return of Jesus Christ. The coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost began the mission of the Church. Everything we do now is supposed to be done in the Holy Spirit. It is how

I recently completed a five-week bible study on the Holy Spirit for my parish. We studied biblical images of the Holy Spirit, titles and works of the Spirit, fruits of the Holy Spirit, gifts of the Spirit and how to receive the Holy Spirit. A number of things struck me as I gave these bible teachings on the Holy Spirit. One was that the Holy Spirit is One who convicts and convinces people of the reality of Jesus Christ.
From the gospel of John: But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I don’t go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin because they do not believe in me; righteousness because I am going to the Father, and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. (John 16:7-11)
We see this working of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Peter ended his preaching by boldly stating, “…let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:36) And what was the response to this unambiguous message? “…they were cut to the heart, and they asked, ‘What are we to do, my brothers?” (Acts 2:37) Of course Peter summoned them to repent, be baptized and to receive the Holy Spirit. It was the power of the Spirit working through Peter that cut to the heart of his hearers that Pentecost. Peter boldly proclaimed the message. However, the Spirit worked in the minds and hearts of the hearers.

Another thing that impressed me in my recent bible study on the Holy Spirit was the variety of gifts of the Spirit. Most of us can recall the lists of the gifts of the Spirit in the New Testament: I Corinthians 12:4-11, Romans 12:3-8, Ephesians 4:11-12; I Peter 4:11. And these lists are not exhaustive. I Corinthians 7:7 implies that marriage and celibacy are both gifts. The Holy Spirit gives gifts not listed in the New Testament. As I pondered this variety of gifts, some supernatural and others seemingly ordinary but effective, it occurred to me that the Lord wants to equip the Church to proclaim the gospel in a variety of ways waterso as to reach as many people as possible for Christ.

Some people will be evangelized through apologetics. Others will be evangelized through signs and wonders. Still others will be drawn to Christ through a neighbor’s good works done in the name of the Lord. And yet others will be converted through powerful preaching. The Holy Spirit gives the Body of Christ what it needs to make Jesus Christ known and loved in every age.

Let us approach Pentecost this year with expectant faith asking that we be equipped in a fresh manner to proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord. In my Partners in Renewal letter for April I referred to Cardinal Wuerl’s comment about the “tsunami of secularism”. Many basic convictions about life (the dignity of the human person, the truth about marriage) have been washed out of our society’s thinking. In that letter I mentioned that we need a tidal wave of the Spirit to bring us back to Christ (words also used by Dr. Mary Healy.)

However, I do not see this tidal wave of the Spirit coming without the every believer using their Spirit-given gifts to proclaim Jesus Christ. It is when we are armed with a missionary mindset and the gifts of the Spirit that we will give clear witness to the Lord Jesus. And whether our witness is welcomed or not, may God give us the courage to lovingly stand for the Lord.

Come Holy Spirit!

In Christ,
Fr. Bob Franco
Bishop’s Delegate to Catholic Renewal Ministries

PS: I hope to see you at the Pentecost Mass on May 20th at St. Hilary Parish in Fairlawn, Ohio. Praise and worship begins at 2:00 p.m. The Mass itself will begin around 2:30 PM. Also, our charismatic conference will be on Friday and Saturday, July 20-21. Details are in this edition of The Flame. PPS: I will be leading a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, October21-30, 2018. For more information please see: www.pilgrimages.com/frfranco.