fTHERThe Flame: May/June 2009
Dear Readers of The Flame,

Springtime usually brings with it a certain amount of optimism. Blooming trees and warmer weather improves the outlook of many.
However we, as Catholic Christians, have a more profound reason for hope. We are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The long reign of sin has ended. The final chapter of God’s plan has been opened. Life from the dead for human beings is now revealed in the person of Jesus.

The purpose of the charismatic renewal is to take this wonderful truth and make it alive for the hungry heart. One of my favorite images of the charismatic renewal comes from an Assembly of God pastor from South Africa, Rev. David DuPlessis. He was one of the main instruments of the Lord for bringing the charismatic renewal to mainline Protestant traditions as well as into the Catholic Church. I believe Rev. DuPlessis was the only Pentecostal observer who sat in on sessions of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960’s.

Rev. David DuPlessis was giving a presentation about baptism in the Spirit to a group of Protestant seminary professors. After patiently listening to the Rev. DuPlessis’ talk, one of the professors remarked, “You haven’t said anything really new. What is the difference between what you teach and what we teach?” The Lord gave Rev. DuPlessis an image. He responded by saying, “Back home I have a freezer. It is filled with some really nice beef steaks. Every once in a while, I take some of those steaks, let them thaw out and grill them. Now there is really no difference between the steak in the freezer and the steak on the grill. Chemically and otherwise, it is the same piece of meat. However, the steak on the grill gets the attention of your nose, makes your mouth water and draws you to the fire.”

So it is with the soul aflame with the Holy Spirit! The gift of faith is not a sterile set of doctrines that one has memorized. For the person is deeply in touch with the Holy Spirit, that faith is a living reality that even attracts others to Jesus Christ. This is what the charismatic renewal seeks to do: to assist people to  become more open to the life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit, who takes the age old truth of the gospel and makes it relevant today.

One of the main ways that the renewal does this is through the Life in the Spirit Seminars. There are a number of seminars taking place this Easter season in the diocese of Cleveland. Sts. Cosmas and Damian Parish is hosting a week by week seminar beginning Sunday, April 26. Call Jerry and Grace Wrobel (330-425-2678) for more information. Proclamation Ministries will also be hosting a one day LSS at St. Michael Parish on Saturday, May 30 at St. Michael Parish in Independence. Call Nancy Dockrill (440-748-2420) to register. Finally, I will be hosting a seminar at St. Teresa of Avila Parish in Sheffield Village on Saturday, May 23. Please call me at 440-934-4227 to register.

The new life that Christ won for us becomes alive to us by the gift of the Holy Spirit. May we live in the power and light of that new life as we prepare to celebrate Pentecost.

Sincerely in Christ,

Fr. Bob Franco

PS: Our offices moved to a new location on the Center for Pastoral Leadership. I will call it an upgrade! Open house for the new Center will be in conjunction with the June charismatic mass. We look forward to see you then. In the mean time here is a listing of the upcoming masses:

Friday, May 1 at 7:30 PM-Conversion of St. Paul Shrine at 4120 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
Pentecost Sunday May 31 at 2:00 PM-St. Michael Parish, 6540 Brecksville Rd., Independence
Friday, June 26 at 7:30 PM-Sacred Heart Chapel (on the campus of the Center for Pastoral Leadership), 28700 Euclid Ave., Wickliffe