Category: Featured Authors

Lithuanian Renewal Continues Bearing Fruit

This article originally appeared in Renewal Ministries’ February 2019 newsletter.

Ralph spoke at a Day of Renewal event in Kaunas, Lithuania, attended by more than one thousand people.

Dear Fellow Disciples,

Events in the Church and the world continue to unfold, but our job is to “press on,” sharing the message of salvation with all that will hear and strengthening those who are laboring in the vineyard of the Lord.

I’d like to share with you about one of our most special missions, that which we do in Lithuania. Why is it special? Because it is the first place we went as the Lord began a new phase of our work in Renewal Ministries. We had been doing individual mission trips for many years, but this was the first time that we began to develop teams to multiply what we were able to do individually.

My dates may be a little off, but I think this is how it all unfolded. In 1992, three young Lithuanian students arrived in the US and had one dollar among them. They used it to call a Lithuanian American priest in Connecticut, who told them not to proceed to the Protestant conference they were invited for, but to stay in the airport until he could pick them up. He then drove them to the Franciscan University of Steubenville (FUS), so they could see authentic Catholic renewal. When they returned to Lithuania, they shared their experiences with their archbishop, Sigitas Tamkevicius, who had recently been released from Siberian labor camps as the hold of the Soviet Union was broken. He then traveled to FUS and met with Fr. Michael Scanlan, who in turn contacted me about going with him to Lithuania to help strengthen the Lithuanian church that was newly emerging from long oppression and persecution. We traveled there in 1992 and did some initial conferences. The next year, we returned with the FIRE team and did some big FIRE rallies that were pivotal in giving birth and strengthening significant renewal communities and ministries that we have been supporting with periodic visits and financial aid ever since.

At that time, Peter Herbeck, Sr. Ann Shields, and I had begun regularly praying together to seek God’s direction for us, and one day Sr. Ann got a word from the Lord that we would be going to Lithuania. She said she didn’t even know where that was. Shortly after, that the events described in the above paragraph unfolded!

I was back in Lithuania in 1998, but other team members then took over the support of our work there, including Dr. Peter Williamson, who served in this way for many years, and now, Bohus Zivak, from Slovakia, who currently does significant work there on behalf of Renewal Ministries.

So it was a real joy to return to Lithuania last fall for a full week, at the invitation of Archbishop Gintaras Grusas. I first met the archbishop when he was a deacon preparing for St. John Paul II’s visit to Lithuania in 1993; interestingly, only a month before my most recent arrival, he had just finished organizing Pope Francis’ visit. His main concern for my time in Lithuania was that his priests and seminarians, and as many priests and seminarians from other dioceses as possible, heard my teachings on holiness, evangelization, the new Pentecost, etc.

Over three days, I gave eleven talks to the priests and seminarians at the major seminary in Vilnius, the capital. Some of the talks were transmitted live to the next two biggest dioceses in Lithuania, Kaunas and Telsiai, where priests were gathered for their monthly study days. A total of about 220 priests and seminarians heard all or some of the teachings. This was about a third of the 700 or so priests in the entire country! The archbishop and his auxiliary bishop of Vilnius—along with myself and the only other layman there, the one doing the videoing—each prayed over a line of seminarians and priests who wanted more of the Holy Spirit active in their lives.

While there, the archbishop also scheduled me to do major media interviews to publicize the publication of the Lithuanian translation of The Fulfillment of All Desire.

On my last weekend in Lithuania, I did an all-day rally at the cathedral in Vilnius, which was full, and then drove to Kaunas for an all-day rally there as well, in the largest conference hall of the university. They were wonderful days full of blessings and the presence of God.

At the end of the last rally, I spent time with the Living Stones Community, which we have been supporting through your generosity all these years and which continues to do effective evangelization throughout the country. They gathered together the 1000 people who overflowed the university conference hall. I also had contact with other groups we are helping in university evangelization, apologetics, and other evangelization efforts.

We work in more than forty different countries now, but we will always have a “soft spot” in our hearts for where these missions all began and continue to this day.

Thank you for your role in making this and so many other things possible to strengthen God’s people and draw as many as possible to Himself.

Your brother in Christ,

Ralph

‘The Choices We Face’ Continues Inspiring Viewers

Ralph Martin and Dr. Tom Graves on “The Choice We Face.” You can view this episode here.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Greetings in Christ Jesus!

Our staff recently watched what will be the final episode for the 2018 The Choices We Face programs. I’m so glad we did! On the program, Ralph interviewed Dr. Tom Graves from St. Paul on the Lake Parish in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Dr. Tom spoke about his story of coming to meet Jesus and the difference it made in his marriage, family, and work.

Our whole staff was moved—I was moved to tears a couple of times—at the beautiful and amazing ways Jesus has worked through Tom, in the ordinary circumstances of life and work as a physician, to help people come to experience the transforming love of Jesus. Tom’s simple, humble, and honest way of speaking reminded us that Jesus wants all of His children to be His hands and feet, to be conduits of His mercy and power.

You can view the program by clicking the link here. I know it will be a blessing to you. You also can also watch it this week on EWTN or in the weeks ahead at www.RenewalMinistries.net/tcwf. (Click on “View show archives.”)

In two weeks, the 2019 episodes of The Choices We Face‘s will begin! We’re very happy and grateful to the Lord for what we believe is another power-packed season. You’ll hear from some of our favorite guests, including Patti Mansfield, Fr. John Riccardo, and Sr. Ann Shields, as well as Sr. Miriam James Heidland, Dr. Bob Schuchts, Fr. Burke Masters, and others.

Please pray that this new season of programs will reach those who most need to know the transforming love of Jesus.

In Christ Jesus,

 

Peter Herbeck

Vice President

Renewal Ministries

 

P.S. Please consider joining us for this year’s Renewal Ministries Gathering from April 5-7. You can find details by clicking here.

‘Keeping Our Heads in All Situations’

 

The following letter from Peter Herbeck originally appeared in Renewal Ministries’ February 2019 newsletter, which you can view here.

Dear Friends,

I’ve been thinking and praying for all of you—all of us—who are living through these unprecedented times for the Church. These are chaotic and destabilizing times, filled with sorrow, anger, confusion, and fear for many people. It is without a doubt a time of great testing for all of us.

One of the constant questions I get from people is, “How do I respond to this? What should I do?” A great deal of helpful practical advice has been given on how to help the leaders of the Church, bishops, and priests to cooperate with this time of purification. But more needs to be said about how we can, as St. Paul puts it, “keep our heads in all situations” (2 Tm 4:5), especially in times of hardship and great testing. The teaching of Jesus and the apostles is a great help in times like these.

Keeping the big picture in mind is key to helping us live above the circumstances and to see in the trials great opportunity to grow in maturity as a disciple. St. Peter exhorts us to “not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you” (2 Pt 4:12). All of us are being proved, tested by the crisis in the Church. This “fiery ordeal” is a self-inflicted wound, the result of serious failures and scandalous behavior of leadership.

The scandalous behavior is a shock to the system, but it shouldn’t ultimately be a surprise or too strange for us to understand. Jesus told us that we would have great tribulations in this world and that we would see and experience scandal, the kind witnessed even among the twelve apostles. Among Jesus’ closest friends, those He knew best, the ones He trusted the most: one betrayed Him and another denied even knowing Him, at the moment Jesus needed them most. Sin, failure, and betrayal among leaders is scandalous, but it shouldn’t ultimately take us by surprise.

As disciples, we know, or should know, human weakness. We also know that we’re living in an “evil age,” in a fallen world that is “in the power of the evil one” (1 Jn 5:19). The world is a battle field; the Church is at war, every single day, against powerful principalities and powers deployed against us. What we are seeing writ large is the same struggle we all face, the daily temptations and seductions of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Jesus is showing mercy in this severe discipline and judgment that has come upon the Church. He is at work, shining light into the darkness, removing the chains and breaking the strongholds that are binding the Church. He’s revealing the consequences of sin, the depth to which even clergymen, religious leaders, can fall. We’re seeing the face of sin, and this, friends, is a great and severe mercy.

This is a moment for all of us to take stock, to examine our lives in the light of Jesus. He is disciplining His Church, and in that He is testing each one of us. Where are we in relationship to His call in our lives? Are we giving Him everything? Are we putting Him first? Are we fulfilling the assignment He has given to each one of us? Are we passionately, completely dedicated to bringing the kingdom and the will of the Father into every area He has given us responsibility for? Are we living in the wisdom of the eternal perspective, knowing with confidence and certainty that we, each one us, will soon be standing before the judgment seat of Christ, giving an account for what we have done with what He has given to us?

St. Paul gives us a beautiful perspective to live by, especially in these days:

“So we are always of good courage . . . whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body” (2 Cor 5:6, 9-10).

Despite the many trials, persecutions, punishments, disappointments, and failures in the Church, St. Paul has his eye on the climax of his life, the ultimate moment that he knows with certainty lies before him: his appearing before the judgment seat of Christ. This certainty fills Paul with what he himself describes as “the fear of the Lord,” which gives him clarity and wisdom on how to live in the moment, not matter what circumstances he is facing. The only thing that matters is to live in a way that pleases the Lord. It simplifies his life in the midst of constant complexity. It gives him wisdom, the ability to know how to live well, to live an authentically fulfilling life, to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, to do the will of the Father. Nothing else matters. Period.

This is where Jesus is leading the Church. He wants to awaken the fear of the Lord in all of us so that we can have wisdom. He has brought us to a point of decision: are we going to live in the fear of men, which necessarily leads to foolishness and slavery, or are we going to fear God and live in the freedom of the sons and daughters of God?

Let’s not let this trial pass without harvesting everything Jesus has for us personally and corporately. I believe in my bones that the Renewal Ministries’ family was made for this moment! He is here, ready to strengthen us, to empower us to give a wholehearted and radical “yes” to Him and to do all we can to lead those He brings to us out of bondage, foolishness, and fear, into the wisdom of God.

Lord, we love You! Help us to make the most of the time and to use the resources You have given us to serve Your purpose in this hour!

Friends, we will all be dead soon. Life is short, it’s a passing shadow, let’s help each other make the most of the time for the glory of the Lord and for the salvation of souls.

In Christ,

Peter

Free Online Conference Celebrates Catholic Charismatic Renewal

You are invited to celebrate the anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal like never before!

Sign up online to join us for the first-ever Ark and Dove Week, from Feb. 11-15. This is a free, international online conference that will feature preaching, interviews, and testimonies of several key people in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Speakers include Ralph Martin, Dr. Mary Healy, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, Jim Murphy, Patti Mansfield, and Dave Mangan.

“This is a rare opportunity to listen to short inspirational talks by some of the key leaders in the history of renewal in the Catholic Church,” said Ralph Martin.

To register, go to www.arkanddoveweek.com. Registrants will receive an email with specific guidelines for the no-cost event. The website also has details regarding the full line-up of confirmed speakers, a schedule, and frequently asked questions.

The event will be broadcast in Spanish, English, and Portuguese.

Ark and Dove Week is an initiative of the “The Ark and The Dove,” which is headquartered at the retreat house where the Duquesne Weekend occurred on Feb. 17-18, 1967. The Duquesne Weekend is commonly referred to as the beginning of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the United States.

Casting Nets: The Lord is Present and Generous

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The following article is the fourth in a series called “Casting Nets.” The posts are written by “John,” a student in one of Ralph Martin’s New Evangelization classes, and document several evangelization opportunities he has performed in his various ministries. He writes, “Each ministry is unique with various situations, circumstances, and needs; but the one constant is broken and injured people. It is my experience that there is no greater potential for miracles to occur than when desperate people meet Jesus. I have been blessed to have seen many people come to Jesus—often in surprising or unexpected ways—and quite often, it is I who is the most surprised.”

By John

The following occurrence happened when I was holding a prayer service for about thirteen women prisoners. Since it was an unusually large crowd, I curtailed the service a bit so we would have time to pray and evangelize afterwards, since there were many new women present that week. Two of the women were Catholic and most were of other Christian denominations, but the remainder were unchurched and showed up primarily because there was nothing else for them to do. I spoke of God’s goodness and explained that I was part of a healing prayer ministry. I asked if anyone had any aches and pains.

Immediately, Lorraine, one of the Catholics, raised her hand and said her hip hurt. The other prison minister and I prayed for her. I prayed slowly and deliberately and explained what I was doing at each step of the process in careful detail. (I was planning that the next healing would be done through one of the inmates, so my intent was to teach, and then to let them heal and evangelize each other.) Lorraine reported tingling in her hip. I told the group, “Now she needs to step out in faith and try it out.” She got up, walked around, and said she was pain free. She said, “My sciatica doesn’t even hurt any more.” “Sciatica?” I said. Hmmm. I asked Lorraine, “This may be an odd question, but do you happen to have one leg that is shorter than the other?” “Yes, I do,” she said. I told the group to gather around and watch carefully. We prayed, and to make a long story short, we all watched as Jesus grew her leg out before all that were present.

I challenged them to explain what just happened. I asked, “How could bone just grow on its own?” I then explained this was what I meant during the service when I said God was generous. I wanted them to pause and really soak in that the Lord was present among us and that He had just caused this woman’s leg to grow. They were speechless (especially the unchurched inmates), but the Holy Spirit was not done yet. I asked for more aches and pains.

Another woman, Shelly, said she had back pain as well. I asked her to sit down. I then asked Lorraine to bring herself (and her newly stretched leg) over to pray for her. I told Lorraine she was going to pray for the healing, not me. I walked her through a basic prayer method, but I did not directly participate. Shelly said she felt heat in her back, and she started to well up with tears. After a short while, she reported healing. The Holy Spirit was still not done, so I asked for more aches and pains.

Next up was a woman with shoulder pain. She sat down, and this time I told Shelly to dry her tears and come over because now it was her turn to pray for the healing (she looked surprised). But before we could even start, one of the other ladies sitting at the table interrupted and said, “When I came in here, my foot was hurting, and now it doesn’t.”

“Praise You, Holy Spirit, for spontaneous healings!” I exclaimed.

I said, “This is how generous God is! He is healing things we didn’t even know were broken and haven’t even prayed for yet!” I asked if anyone else had similar healings, and I asked them all to try out their various aches and pains. Two more reported that they were healed. Praise Jesus! We then turned our attention to the woman with the shoulder pain. This time, I walked Shelly through the prayer process, starting with putting her hand where the pain was. She prayed (again, I did not participate) and the woman said she felt heat and tingling and reported that she was healed. She kept saying to the others, “No . . . really guys . . . it’s completely healed! This is real!

Indeed, it is real. We all sat and talked about how God—the creator of everything in the universe—took time out of His schedule, just to come into a small, rural jail and pour His love and affections out upon a little group of people that society had labeled as worthless. “Never forget,” I said, “no one is worthless in the eyes of God.”