Category: Featured Authors

A New Pentecost: Why Now?

Pope John XXIII implored the whole Church to pray in preparation for the Council, asking God to send us a “new Pentecost,” and Benedict XVI called for the whole Church to pray for a renewal of Baptism and confirmation and be “baptized in the Spirit.” For more than 40 years there has been a strong and continuing emphasis coming from the Popes on the need of the Church, and each of us as individuals, to experience today the work of the Spirit as we see it described in the accounts of Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles. As one surveys the persistent calls for a rediscovery or reappropriation of the work of the Holy Spirit as first experienced at Pentecost one is struck by the fervor and depth of conviction in these repeated pleas. Sometimes even a note of desperation.(1)

…The continuing papal calls for a New Pentecost seem to be based on two main perceptions. One perception is of the weakness of the Church and the “collapse of Christendom” or as John Paul II put it, the end of Christian society as we once knew it. This is related to the growth of an international, secular culture characterized by a “dictatorship of relativism” which is increasingly hostile to claims of truth, and most especially the claims of Christ and the Church. A situation has now developed that is more similar to the situation the early Church faced than anything we’ve known in many centuries.

The second perception is that what is most needed is a renewal of a personal relationship with God himself, a relationship that “comes alive” in the reality of Pentecost, in both its contemplative and charismatic dimensions. Quite bluntly, it appears that the Popes are crying out:

We need God! We need a new Pentecost!

This is in turn opening us to the perception that indeed, God is hearing our prayers and that we are beginning to see the unfolding of a new Pentecost, most notably in various renewal movements, but hopefully extending in an ever-widening circle to the entire Church. Pentecost and the gifts of the Spirit are not the property of any one movement or all the movements together, but the heritage of the entire Church. The movements perhaps can be seen as a “vanguard” of the renewal the Lord has in mind for the whole Church. The values and realities we see embodied in the movements and new communities are intended to stimulate the renewal of such values and realities throughout the Church, beyond the bounds of the particular movements or communities.

This seems to be clearly the view of the recent Popes. The first signs of “springtime” or “renewal” or “new Pentecost” or a “Pentecostal season”—characterized by “passion,” “ardor,” “fervor,” “enthusiasm”—while most intense in the “new movements” are seen to be the harbingers of a wider springtime that encompasses the entire Church. The Popes clearly see the universal need for a “new Pentecost” and the universal possibility of it, since the Pentecostal graces, both contemplative and charismatic, are constitutive of the Church. The charismatic dimension of the Church’s constitution is seen to be “co-essential” with the institutional dimension, and the whole Church is invited to cry out for the gifts of the Spirit, receive them gratefully, and use them for the good of the Church.

(Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, & Fear of the Lord)*


NOTES

1. Edward D. O’Connor, C.S.C., The Pentecostal Movement in the Catholic Church (Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 1971) cites several instances in which John XXIII links the meaning of Vatican II to a “new Pentecost.” 287–289.


This article is an excerpt from Ralph Martin’s booklet A New Pentecost. In this booklet Ralph describes the insistent calls of the recent Popes for a “new Pentecost.” Using quotes from these Popes and the scriptures, he explores this “new Pentecost” and how we can personally appropriate it.

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*The list of the gifts of the Holy Spirit was an addition to this article and not contained in the original booklet text.

A Conspiracy of Silence on Heaven

…my father complained to me some years ago that no one talked about heaven. I see a couple of reasons for that phenomenon. First, no one wants to be definitive about anything these days. No one wants to take a stand, even though Scripture and the long tradition of Church teaching on this issue are very clear. Society’s “all things are relative” approach has affected theologians, preachers, and teachers of the Gospel. Many are afraid to declare anything absolutely for fear of being marginalized in their careers. Pride affects all of us, but those most responsible for preaching and teaching are attacked in a particular way. As a result, many are unable to bring solid food to an often frightened and discouraged people. What a truncated Gospel remains!

In the face of external confusion and internal pride, those called to preach are often silent on what matters most.

This difficulty is very serious. In an interview in The Rock in September of 1996, Scott Hahn commented:

“In American Catholic scholarly circles, if you choose to say things that are politically incorrect, your career is ruined. You’re blacklisted, you’re not promoted and you’ll actually find it much harder to publish.”

Karl Keating echoed similar concerns when he said in the same interview:

“Scholars are marginalized. Their books don’t get reviewed, they don’t get promoted and the centers of scholarship invite on to their staffs only those people who already agree with majority opinion.”

A second reason is that believing in heaven means preaching and teaching on what Scripture clearly explains is necessary to inherit the kingdom of heaven. Again, some priests, theologians, and other teachers of religion are afraid to teach the absolutes of morality. Again, no one wants to be criticized as “fundamentalist,” “simplistic,” or “not up-to-date theologically.” The effect of all this is a conspiracy of silence on the very topic our Lord intended to help us endure, to persevere, to be nourished in hope, and to be sustained in such a way that we could help others put their hope in a God of love.

What does our faith clearly teach us about our resurrection? Christ suffered and died for our sins. After suffering a horrible death and the seeming loss of all hope that the Apostles and first disciples experienced, He rose gloriously triumphant on Easter morning. Paul teaches us in First Corinthians that what happened to Christ is a sure and firm promise of what is to be ours. Christ rose that we might know He triumphed over death. Those who put their faith in Him will experience the same victory, because our lives are one with Christ through faith and baptism.

 


This article is an excerpt from Sr. Ann Shield’s booklet What Am I Living For? In this booklet, Sr. Ann shows us how to combat the culture of death with the Word of God that enables us to grasp the inestimable value of each person and ponder the incredible realities that await us in heaven.

This booklet is no longer in print but is available as a FREE electronic download on our website!

 

Personal Prayer—Being Present Is Essential

 

Prayer is simply the name that has traditionally been given to communication, or conversation, with God—it is awareness of Him, consciously being present to Him, and Him being present to us.

Most of the laws we discover in the development of our human relationships apply also to our relationship with God. For example,

  • In a marriage relationship, if the husband and wife don’t take time regularly to communicate and just be together, their service to one another, their children, and others will deteriorate. Just being physically present to one another, or even working together on something, isn’t enough to sustain and deepen the relationship.
  • If the family functioned as a group all the time and there were never times when a child and one of the parents could simply be together and communicate, the child would tend to withdraw, not develop quickly, and in general lose his or her vitality and joy.
  • If two friends were friends in name and not in deed, if they never spent time together and never got to know each other increasingly well, the friendship would not be very supportive or satisfying.

The same laws of intimate communication apply to our relationship with God. If we don’t spend regular time alone with Him, not doing anything else, there will be something missing in our relationship, and it will manifest itself in a variety of ways—in less enthusiasm for the Christian life, little growth in becoming a new person, greater susceptibility to sin, and less power in witnessing.

Long ago, I recognized that a daily time of personal prayer was essential for knowing the Lord in the way in which I sensed Him calling me. Over the years, I have taken this daily time in my room, in a church, or even in my office. Sometimes it was just before supper or just before going to bed, but usually it was the first thing in the morning, before I started work. Occasionally, there have been particularly busy times when I was simply unable to have time for personal prayer, but these periods have seldom extended beyond several days.

Faithfulness to a daily prayer time has made a significant difference for me in following Jesus and living the Christian life. If, in earlier years, I missed a day or two of prayer, it showed up in obvious ways. If I was somewhat irritable or distant, my wife would ask, “Ralph, have you prayed today?” My enthusiasm for the Christian life diminished, God seemed less close and personal, it became harder to relate lovingly to people, and my desire to serve others flagged.

In fact, I would say that the single most important decision I have made, after turning to Christ and deciding to commit myself to my fellow Christians, was my commitment to daily personal prayer. The trouble of working a personal prayer time into my daily schedule has been well worthwhile.

I have never met anyone, in centuries past, in Christian literature, or today in my own experience, who has succeeded in having their whole life and work as genuine worship without spending definite time in regular personal prayer. In a mature and unusually blessed marriage relationship or friendship, the people involved may be able to be constantly present to one another and in profound communion with one another for days on end, without taking time specifically to spend together—but if that is even possible, it is very rare, and it certainly cannot go on indefinitely. Jesus, who had the most intimate relationship with the Father possible, and the most unbroken communion, except when it was willingly sacrificed as He tasted desolation and death for us, set a conspicuous example of slipping away to spend time alone with the Father, even whole nights, and directed His followers to do the same:

“When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Mt 6:6).

 


This article is an excerpt from Ralph Martin’s booklet How Can I Pray? In this booklet, Ralph sets forth a simple explanation of prayer and outlines an easy-to-follow method for daily personal prayer, including how to deal with obstacles to prayer and how to pray for things as God intends.

Whether you are just beginning in prayer or already pray regularly, this booklet can help you to grow in intimacy with God.

This booklet is no longer in print but is available as a FREE electronic download on our website!

 

 

 

 

Renewal Ministries Live Streams Gathering

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Join Renewal Ministries this Divine Mercy weekend—online!

For the first time ever, Renewal Ministries will be live streaming all of the talks and workshops for its annual Gathering. Please look over the schedule below, and then simply click here to tune in at the correct time!

The Gathering is a unique event, with much faith-building content. This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Divine Mercy Weekend in a very Christ-centered way.

Walk-ins also are welcome at the event. Click here for details!

Friday, April 6, 2018

7 p.m. Peter Herbeck: Welcome

7:20 p.m. Praise and Worship

7:45 p.m. Ralph Martin: “Mary’s Mission, Our Participation”

 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

7:30 a.m. Mass

9 a.m. Intro, Praise and Worship

9:30 a.m. Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT: “Arise!”

10:45 a.m. Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT: Workshop on Healing (followed by Ministry)

2 p.m. Pete Burak and the i.d.9:16 Team: “Reaching the Next Generation”

3:15 p.m. Ralph Martin and Team: “Renewal Ministries’ Report”

4:15 p.m. Holy Hour/Silent Adoration

7 p.m. Praise and Worship

7:20 p.m. Peter Herbeck: “The Glory of the Lord”

8:15 p.m. Empowerment Prayer Ministry led by Peter Herbeck and Barbara Heil

 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

9 a.m. Praise and Worship

9:10 a.m. Sr. Ann Shields, SGL: “The Steadfast Love of the Lord Never Ceases”

9:50 a.m. Pop-Up Sharing

10:30 a.m. Mass

Avoiding a Lukewarm Path

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The following is an excerpt from Ralph Martin’s newly re-released booklet, “What Happens When I Die?”


This may come as something of a surprise, but Scripture indicates that lukewarm Christians have a chance of being damned. I was surprised, even shocked, when I studied what God’s Word said about this. Jesus’ general attitude toward lukewarmness is vividly expressed in the following excerpt from Revelation:

I know your deeds: I know you are neither hot nor cold. How I wish you were one or the other—hot or cold! But because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spew you out of my mouth! (Rv 3:15)

Scripture makes clear that saving faith is not just an intellectual assent to certain truths, or even an emotional “born again” experience, but a commitment of the heart and will to act on and live in accordance with the words that our Savior and Lord speaks to us, in the power of the Holy Spirit. “Be assured, then, that faith without works is as dead as a body without breath” (Jas 2:26).

To profess faith in Christ without the corresponding actions is counted by Jesus as worthy of condemnation:

Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. You can tell a tree by its fruit. None who cry out, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of God but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.When that day comes, many will plead with me, “Lord, Lord” . . . Then I will declare to them solemnly, “I never knew you. Out of my sight, you evildoers!” (Mt 7:19-22, 23)

Not to be fruitful for the Lord, not to use well what He gives us, is to run the risk of condemnation. Material possessions, gifts and abilities, time and resources, insights and faith—an unprofitable use of any of these could result in their being taken away and their owners being declared unfaithful servants. This is what is indicated in the parable of the silver pieces or talents (Mt 25:14-30). The servant who has not made a profit with the master’s money is stripped of the talents he was given and thrown into the outer darkness.

Scripture also points out the dangers of becoming so involved in our ordinary, day-to-day lives that we do not remain alert to God, eager to do Christ’s will, and ready for Christ’s second coming. To be nominal Christians, but not to be clothed in righteous deeds, makes one unfit for the kingdom of God. Being invited into the kingdom is one thing; responding properly is another:
 

When the king came in to meet the guests, however, he caught sight of a man not properly dressed for a wedding feast. “My friend,” he said, “how is it you came in here not properly dressed?” The man had nothing to say. The king then said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot and throw him out into the night to wail and grind his teeth.” The invited are many, the elect are few. (Mt 22:11-14)

We also become liable for judgment if we fail to persevere in faith and obedience until the end of our lives or until the Lord’s return. Short-lived enthusiasm followed by a drifting back into lukewarmness is just as dangerous. Christians who do not persevere, who return to serious sin or end up denying the faith, will be dealt with severely.

If we sin willfully after receiving the truth, there remains for us no further sacrifice for sin—only a fearful expectation of judgment and a flaming fire to consume the adversaries of God. Anyone who rejects the law of Moses is put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Do you not suppose that a much worse punishment is due the man who disdains the Son of God, thinks the covenant-blood by which he was sanctified to be ordinary, and insults the Spirit of grace? We know who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay” and “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Heb 10:26-31)

There is only one way for Christians to meet the criteria required for eternal life: we must allow the Lord to transform us and make us holy—not just in external actions, but in our hearts and minds and wills.