"Duc in altum": a new challenge for the Charismatic Renewal (by Allan Panozza)

ICCRS Council met last November (by Oreste Pesare)

Restart from Christ. The New Challenge of the 3rd Millennium (by Bp. Joseph Grech)

"Duc in altum": a new challenge for the Charismatic Renewal

(by Allan Panozza)

 

    When I was a boy growing up, one of my favourite pastimes was fishing. Often I would get up before dawn, and spend hours sitting on one of the piers that jutted out into the large bay on which my hometown was situated. Sometimes I would come home with great excitement, proudly bearing four or five small fish, which my Dad would clean and prepare, and my mother would cook and serve that evening.

    As I grew older I was allowed to go out fishing with a neighbour who owned a small rowing boat. Now a whole new world was suddenly opened before me. No longer was I constrained to sitting on a pier hoping that the fish might come to me. Now we could range freely across the vast expanse of Corio Bay, and we could even go out into the deep water where the big fish were feeding, and where my expectations for a large catch might be fulfilled. Indeed this is what began to happen. Now I would return home from these expeditions, sometimes with difficulty in carrying all the fish I had caught. The new problem was no longer that there were not enough fish to share amongst the family, but rather, to whom could we give away all the fish I now brought home? And they were not the small fish which had frequented the end of the pier, but they were big fish which sometimes I even had difficulty reeling in.

    One day Jesus found himself so overwhelmed by the size of the crowd which had gathered to hear him teach, that he sat down in the fishing boat of Simon, and putting out a little from the shore of the lake, he began to teach the people from there.

    When he had finished what he wanted to say he invited Simon to "put out into the deep for a catch" "Duc in altum" (Lk5: 4). As experienced fishermen, Peter and his companions would have known that this was an unlikely possibility, but now they must make a decision. Should they put their faith in their experience as professionals, or risk their faith in the words of a man who was not a fisherman but clearly had some extraordinary power to touch the hearts of those who flocked to listen to him.

    I think that the Charismatic Renewal faces the same choice today. Although in many ways the world which is ours with its vast knowledge and technology is hardly comparable to that of the Apostles, nevertheless we live in a time of uncertainty and fear which is not unlike that which the people of Israel faced in the time of Jesus. They also felt the heavy hand of "terrorism", as they laboured under the weight of fundamentalist oppression from their religious leaders. At the same time they were subject to living under the heel of a conquering invader. To these people Jesus brought the good news that the God of their fathers still loved them, and had not abandoned them. Jesus brought a new and radical call for them to have faith in him, and manifested his power to heal and to meet the needs of those who trusted him. Jesus even gave back life where there was death, and he offered eternal life to all who had the courage to reach out for it. Jesus brought a message of hope and the promise of the Holy Spirit. Jesus invited his followers to "put out into the deep".

    In his Apostolic Letter "Novo Millennio Ineunte" Pope John Paul II recalls the joy which flooded the Church during the Jubilee Year 2000. He described the measure of grace as being like "a river of living water continually flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb" (cf. Rev 22:1). It is clear that the Holy Father saw the Great Jubilee as being highly significant.

    He wrote in this document "…From the beginning of my Pontificate, my thoughts had been on the Holy Year 2000 as an important appointment. I thought of its celebration as a providential opportunity during which the Church, thirty five years after the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, would examine how far she had renewed herself, in order to be able to take up her evangelising mission with fresh enthusiasm…"

    As President of ICCRS I must tell you that my thoughts are focused now on this time of grace for the world wide Catholic Charismatic Renewal, and our need for fresh enthusiasm. I believe that the Lord is giving us a unique opportunity right now to "put out into the deep", where his promise not to catch fish but men will be fully realised. For many years now I have listened to people saying that they are awaiting "a new wave of the Holy Spirit". I do not spend time waiting for that because I believe that we are already living in that "new wave", or as I would rather describe it, "this time of new opportunity given us by the Holy Spirit".

    Following Vatican II Almighty God did not unleash upon the Church this new outpouring of power and grace, only to see it slowly diminish and die out. No! On the contrary he continues to motivate us through that same Holy Spirit to "contemplate the Face of Jesus Christ:" As Pope John Paul reminds us in this document, that Face may be bruised and bloodied on the Cross, but it is also the Face of the Risen One to whom the Church now looks as we stand at the threshold of the New Millennium. Nor is this the time for the Charismatic Renewal to worry about problems, or whether or not our numbers are growing within the Church. I believe that now is the time for us to look at the Face of Jesus who is our source of New Life, and to remain open to his grace being poured out through the Holy Spirit.

    To you who are leaders in the Charismatic Renewal, I exhort you to see these days as being a time of extraordinary opportunity. I challenge you to make a decision right now to untie your boat from the safe and placid waters near the pier, and put out into the deep channel where the current is swiftly running. Sure, the waters look dark and are deep and the wind out there blows strongly, but be ready to harvest the fish. However, let me caution you! Even as you are hauling in the catch do not focus on it, - on how big the fish are or, what kind are they? – focus only on the Face of Jesus.

    In the motivating power which we have received through the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, may I affirm you in the words of St. Paul "…fan into a flame the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you. God’s gift was not a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power, and love, and self control…" (2 Tim 1:6-7). Good fishing!

 

 

ICCRS Council met last November

(by Oreste Pesare)

 

    The ICCRS Council held another annual Council Meeting at "Santuario Madonna del Divino Amore" in Rome. This Council Meeting was held from November 4th-9th, 2001 prior to the International Colloquium on ‘Prayer for Healing and the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church.’ Since this Colloquium was scheduled for November 10th -13th , 2001 in Rome, the Councillors decided to take full advantage of this special gathering by adding a Council Meeting before the Colloquium officially began. Hence, the scheduled Council Meeting for March 2002 will no longer take place.

    The first two days of the Council Meeting consisted of prayer, reflection on lectures given by Council members, and a time to enjoy each other’s company. The following days covered the following business:

 

A. Reports

Financial Report. The ICCRS Condensed Operating Fund Results (as of September 2001) was read in the assembly. There was also a discussion concerning the difficulties of those countries which have not been able to give what had been expected.

Office report. Subscriptions to the ICCRS Newsletter have been increasing these past few months. Also, the office is now sending the ICCRS Newsletter by e-mail. Lots of ICCRS books were sold and mailed all over the world this year – alleluia! We now have our web page in Portuguese.

Project Fund. The office received nine requests and they have been submitted to the Project Fund Sub-committee. Four of them have been accepted and given funds from the Council: 1) $1,800 US for a healing and deliverance seminar in Lithuania; 2) $1,500 US for international praise & worship workshop teams in West Africa; 3) $1,200 US for translations of books about the CCR - in Romania; 4) $3,500 US for an event in Nairobi, Kenya.

Thus, the total amount that was accepted for proposals = $8,000 US.

 

B. Committees

Finance Committee. Allan will continue to be the Chairman of the Finance Committee for the next twelve months. After that period, the newly elected Councillors will consider a new Finance Committee at their first meeting.

Executive Committee. Cathy Brenti will substitute Erni Wiethaeuper for the next twelve months. Then for the Council Meeting in 2003, a new Committee will be constituted.

 

C. Terms of office and new elections

Erni Wiethaeuper will finish his first term next March. Reinaldo Bezerra Dos Reis, the current Chairman of the Brazilian NSC, was elected as ICCRS representative for Portuguese speaking Latin America.

Nikol Baldacchino, Mark Nimo and Henri Lemay finished their second term at the last Council Meeting in March. Next March, Fr. Bart Pastor and Jim Murphy will finish their second term.

Councillors submitted names for future representatives for ICCRS. From that list, the following people were chosen: Peter Thompson, from Canada, is now the representative for French speaking North America. Mark Nimo was elected for a third term as representative for English speaking Africa - finishing his term in 2004. Nikol Baldacchino will stay in the Council for an extended year due to his involvement in the upcoming European Conference. Matteo Calisi, now acting as the representative for Italy, will also represent Southern Europe. Michelle Moran, from England, was voted to represent Northern Europe. Jim Murphy was elected for a third term to represent ICCRS in English speaking North America. Nicholas Chia, from Singapore, was chosen to replace Fr. Bart Pastor to represent ICCRS in Asia. All the new members will officially enter the Council at the next Council Meeting in 2003.

 

D. Next Council Meeting

The next Council Meeting is scheduled to be held from Sunday, February 9th to Saturday, February 15th, 2003 in Argentina. Following the Council Meeting, there will be an organized meeting with all the Latin American leaders.

 

E. Coming events

Toronto WYD 2002. Council decided to proceed in co-operating with YAI in preparing an event during WYD 2002.

2003 Retreat and Pilgrimage in Italy. A proposal for a retreat followed by a pilgrimage to Rome and various religious sites in Italy was presented to the Council. It will consist of a two-day colloquium of NSC’s and other key leaders from CCR realities, a four-day retreat and then a five-day pilgrimage. The Council decided to form a Committee to prepare a budget and to work on the programme for the above pilgrimage.

International Conference on Charismatic Evangelisation and Lay Leadership Formation. The Council appointed a Sub-Committee to study a proposal for regional conferences for leaders involved in Schools of Evangelization. The first will be held in Asia/Oceania, maybe in 2003.

A closing Council session took place the day after the Colloquium ended. Matters regarding the Colloquium and to finalize elections of new members for the ICCRS Council were discussed.

* * *

    An informal meeting took place the morning of Wednesday, November 14th in adjoining to the Colloquium. The ICCRS Council presided over the meeting along with some leaders that attended the International Colloquium. The conclusion of the meeting is that ICCRS will send some questions to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith through the Pontifical Council for the Laity. Allan will write a letter to Card. James Stafford, President of the PCL on this matter.

 

 

Restart from Christ. The New Challenge of the 3rd Millennium

(by Bp. Joseph Grech)

 

1. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus

    On January 6, Pope John Paul II promulgated the apostolic letter Novo Millenio Ineunte, "At the beginning of the new Millennium". As Catholics, how are we going to live this momentous moment in the history of humankind. Pope John Paul II asks us to contemplate the face of Jesus. "And is it not the Church’s task to reflect the light of Christ in every historical period, to make His face shine also before the generations of the new millennium? N.16. This is in line with what the author of the letter to the Hebrews wrote, "Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus" (Heb. 12:2). However, in order to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, as we start the third millennium, we need to reflect deeply on who Jesus is for us, on His values and ideals. This is encapsulated in the powerful question that Jesus made to his disciples – "Who do you say I am?" (Mk 8:28) The deeper we reflect on this question, the more we can comprehend what course of action we need to develop as Catholics as we live our lives as people of the third millennium.

 

2. "Who do people say I am?"

    At Caesarea Philippi, Jesus starts with an easy question to his disciples. "Who do people say I am?" (Mk 8:28). It is very easy to talk about what other people think or say. It is also easy just to go with the majority. It is much safer. Their response was, "John the Baptist…others Elijah, others again one of the Prophets". (Mk 8:28) What an answer. How can Jesus be any of these people? They were all dead. How can we compare Jesus Christ to someone who is already dead? The temptation for many can be to say that we believe, but we do not like to let Jesus too close to our way of living. Many do not want to be disturbed or challenged by His teaching, principles and values. Jesus is not merely interested to remain at a distance, but he constantly challenges us to make a radical decision to live as he has shown us how. He knows that we have got only one heart, and he is constantly inviting us to let him move the heart to make it like his own, holy and sacred.

 

3. Let us open our rooms to Jesus

    What does this entail in practice? In John 14:2, we find Jesus saying, "There are many rooms in my father’s house". Where is the Father’s house? It is true that God is in heaven and in the tabernacle. However, I am the Father’s house, I am the temple of the Holy Spirit. In the core of my existence, deep down in my heart there are many rooms. With some of these rooms I am very comfortable. I can open the door, pull up the blinds, open the windows, and enjoy the fresh air. However there are other rooms where the doors are locked, where the blinds are down, where the windows are shut and where darkness reigns. I cannot even think of opening the door. These are the rooms of my hurts, my fears, my anxieties my prejudice. These are the rooms full of the memories that cripple me and prevent me from becoming a powerful witness of Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus wants to heal all of this. He challenges us to pray and say: Lord take my hand, help me to open these rooms, help me to pull up the blinds, to open the windows, and to let in the fresh air. Help me to face what I need to face, and put it at the foot of your cross, so that I can become a powerful instrument of your healing presence.

 

4. "Who do you say I am?"

    Jesus then turns to his disciples and says " Now let us forget a little bit about what other people say or think about me. "Who do you say I am?" (Mk 8:29) Peter speaking on behalf of the others replied, "You are the Christ" (Mk 8:30). Peter’s response might seem correct at first glance. However, Peter’s idea about Christ was very different from that of Jesus. There was no room in Peter’s mind that the messiah was destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and the chief Priests and the Scribes and to be put to death". (Mk 8:31-32) When Jesus started to talk about these things, Peter started to remonstrate with him. Do not talk about death, about suffering for others. Do not spoil everything Jesus. This is where Jesus became angry with Peter, "get behind me Satan" because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s (Mk 8:33).

 

5. The challenge to believe in Jesus

    What a challenge. Do I believe in Jesus only when I see miracles, only when I can be a witness to signs and wonders? Let us thank God that signs and wonders occur when we pray to the Father, through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us continue to pray that miracles continue to occur as we take seriously the words of Jesus Christ our master and Lord. However Jesus is also challenging us to literally die, so that others might have life. There are moments when we are called to be the last of all and the servants of all, so that the good news of Jesus Christ might be manifested more boldly and powerfully. Am I ready to embrace the cross, by being able to take the pain and hurt of others and at the same time be a steadfast witness of hope and healing because of the conviction that Jesus Christ is alive in me? Am I ready to get rid of my unforgiveness? Am I accountable before God, for all my actions? Am I ready to be the first to lend a helping hand, with genuine interest and love? Am I ready to decide once and for all to love God and my neighbor irrespective of what it costs me? How can we hope to conquer evil in the name of Jesus Christ, if we cannot conquer a sink full of dirty dishes?

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, I revert to John Paul II, that for us Catholics as we start the third millennium, "It is not therefore a matter of inventing a new programme. The programme already exists: it is the plan found in the Gospel and in the living tradition, it is the same as ever. Ultimately, it has its centre in Christ himself" (Novo Millenio Ineunte, n.29) Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.