Thankful to Serve

by | Jul 5, 2024

Dear Friends,

Each day brings a new adventure, a new challenge, a new invitation, doesn’t it? What will the Lord place in my path today? How can I be alert to what God is giving me to do? What will the challenge of the day be? To resist temptation? To love? To forgive? What will the Lord invite me into today? To take up my cross, deny myself and my selfish inclinations, and follow Him? To obey, love, pray, and offer my body as a living sacrifice?

My invitation today is to deny myself and write this letter. I love doing it. I love sharing with you what the Lord is doing. But believe it or not, writing is hard for me. I write a lot, but it is still hard work!

When discerning what speaking, traveling, or writing invitations to accept, I ask the Lord for wisdom and guidance, but I also have some general principles that I think He has given me. I do not judge speaking invitations on whether the crowd will be big enough or if they will offer an honorarium (which I greatly appreciate, as my wife and I are helping a number of our grandchildren to attend Catholic schools). I think the Lord has asked me to speak the precious Word of God as often as possible, regardless of the number of people attending.

I feel that same call regarding invitations to do shorter writing assignments or Zoom interviews with small ministries in various countries. I recently did some Zoom speaking engagements with groups in Slovenia and Italy. I usually experience the inspiration of the Holy Spirit when I do so, even when I’m tired or it’s late at night due to different time zones.

For longer writing assignments that require much time and “blood, sweat, and tears,” I usually do not accept an invitation coming from others but will move forward if the call seems to come directly from the Lord. After I complete a major writing assignment, in my weakness, I usually hope the Lord gives me a lot of time before asking me to undertake another one. While this attitude may not please the Lord, if He does give me another writing assignment sooner than I would like, I certainly will do it.

In fact, I just finished one such assignment! It is a memoir about my journey with the Lord all these years, entitled A Life in the Spirit. I’m excited to announce that pre-orders will start July 17, and the books will begin shipping on Sept. 5. Check our online store for updates!

In the meantime, a lot is happening. Renewal Ministries’ Vice President Pete Burak was in Australia this spring. He gave many talks to a gathering of about six-hundred immigrants from India who are part of the Jesus Youth movement. Debbie Herbeck and the Be Love Revolution team are getting ready for our Pine Hills Girls’ Camp. Peter spent nearly two weeks in Lithuania last month. Rachel  and Debbie Herbeck are helping lead a young adult mission trip to Mexico. And my wife, Anne, and I are currently in Uganda with Bishop Scott McCaig, CC, spending two weeks leading a retreat for over 650 priests in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. I have shared a couple of videos from our Masses on Renewal Ministries’ Facebook page, and a photo of Anne and I saying goodbye to Ugandan schoolchildren is at the top of this letter.

I also was recently in Miami, Florida, in May, to receive a New Evangelization Award from the Archbishop of Miami, Archbishop Wenski, on behalf of the Neocatechumenal Way—they don’t want to be called a movement. And what an amazing Way this is!

After making a Cursillo in Spain, founder Kiko Argüello believed that “Christendom”—the Catholic culture that used to be dominant in Western countries—was finished. He believed it could not be resuscitated and decided to rebuild it by forming communities and making missionary disciples. Argüello saw that human beings today are deeply infected by the world, the flesh, and the devil. He believed we need a lengthy process—a lengthy neocatechumenate, as called for by Vatican II—to make our way to being “adult Christians.”

In 1987, in Rome, he began helping to establish a network of international, missionary-oriented seminaries to form priests who can provide this kind of formation. Today, there are 120 of these Redemptoris Mater seminaries throughout the world. More than 2500 priests have already been ordained, with thousands of seminarians in the process of preparation. The Neocatechumenal Way priests are incardinated in the diocese where their seminary is located, with the understanding that if the local bishop deems it possible, some will be released for missionary work in various parts of the world. There are nine such seminaries in the United States.

I have known about the Way for many years and even have had teams of them present in my summer class for Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL) students at Sacred Heart Major Seminary. Therefore, I was grateful to immerse myself in their life for several days in connection with receiving the award. I turned down the offer of staying in a nice hotel and chose to stay in the seminary, where I participated in daily prayer and a wonderful Saturday evening Mass for some of the local Neocatechumenal communities. The seminarians hailed from eight different countries, and I was very inspired by the fervor of their prayer and their joy. I was also very inspired as I heard some of the experiences of the local communities, which they shared in connection with the Mass. The Way is a beautiful incarnation of what Vatican II called for and what St. John Paul II facilitated in his approval of the statutes of the Way. Another amazingly inspiring aspect of the Way is that hundreds of families have volunteered to be sent anywhere—their destinations are chosen by lot—to plant the Church where it is weak or does not exist.

Grateful for your friendship and support,

This letter originally appeared in Renewal Ministries’ July 2024 newsletter.

About the Author

<a href="" target="_self">Ralph Martin</a>

Ralph Martin

Ralph Martin is president of Renewal Ministries. He also hosts The Choices We Face, a widely viewed weekly Catholic television and radio program distributed throughout the world. Ralph holds a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas (Angelicum) in Rome and is a professor and the director of Graduate Theology Programs in the New Evangelization at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in the Archdiocese of Detroit. He was named by Pope Benedict XVI as a Consultor to the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization and was also appointed as a “peritus” to the Synod on the New Evangelization. Ralph is the author of a number of books, the most recent of which are A Church in Crisis: Pathways ForwardThe Fulfillment of All DesireThe Urgency of the New Evangelization, and Will Many Be Saved? He and his wife Anne have six children and nineteen grandchildren and reside in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


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