Tag: Golden Jubilee

Reflections on Belgium’s Decline of Faith

belgium church empty
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Dear Friends,

Last month, I shared about the great inspiration of being at the fiftieth anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) in Rome, where Pope Francis again strongly encouraged us to keep sharing the gift that God is continuing to give us in this “current of grace” that is still flowing strongly. After our time in Rome, Anne and I went on to Belgium, where we had lived for four years and where two of our children were born (our little Brussels Sprouts we called them). We had been invited to give several talks to celebrate the Belgian celebration of the anniversary of the Renewal. We love Belgium. It is a neat and tidy little country with a noble history of faith and great missionary outflowing. Fr. Damian, who went to Hawaii to work with the lepers, is but one of the many Belgian missionaries and saints.

But how far this noble country has fallen! A great apostasy from the faith is shockingly apparent. As one priest said to us: “We have a beautiful seminary with only one problem, hardly any seminarians!” Church attendance is shockingly low, and hardly any young people are to be found at Mass. The country itself seems to delight in being on the cutting edge of abortion, euthanasia, and the explicit rejection of their Catholic heritage. Catholics are hardly having any children, and the flood of Moslem immigrants in some cities now comprise thirty-three percent of the population, and they are continuing to have many children. God bless the Moslems! God help the Catholics! May Our Lady of Fatima—the name of Mohammed’s beloved daughter—come to our assistance! May we pay attention to her continuing pleas to say the rosary and help her mission with our prayer and fasting!

Sadly, it seems that the Church leadership in Belgium has been intimidated by the aggressive secular culture and is almost accommodating itself to the situation, rather than challenging it with a vigorous proclamation of the Gospel. We went to the most dynamic parish in a large city where we were staying, and sure enough, it had an excellent choir that was in the center of the sanctuary, but the priest almost seemed to be a bit player in the performance. And it sure looked like a woman standing next to the priest on the altar was concelebrating. She said all the prayers with him, except for the exact words of the consecration, and she raised up the chalice as the deacon normally does at the appropriate time, etc. When our host remarked that this probably seemed a little unusual to us, he told us it was actually authorized by the bishop as a way to prepare the remaining Mass attendees for a church without priests! Oh, this is painful.

Lord have mercy on us. Truly.

In the meantime, we continue to preach the Gospel in season and out of season, when it’s convenient and when it’s not. I just returned from Fatima, where I was inspired as never before by the lives and examples of those three young children, and the sacrifices they were willing to make for souls after meeting our Blessed Mother. Perhaps in their example of loving souls and in their willingness to make sacrifices—and of “meeting” our Mother Mary and drawing close to her, and therefore, to our Lord—we can begin to help turn the tide that is overwhelming Belgium and so many other beautiful countries.

Alleluia! Jesus is Lord! And He’s coming again in glory to judge the living and the dead! May He find us busy with the Father’s work—according to each of our vocations.

Sincerely yours,

Ralph

‘Be Still and Know He is God’

Be still
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Ralph Martin gave the following prophetic reflection in Rome for the Golden Jubilee of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. His talk followed ones by Patti Mansfield and Dave Mangan.

Be still and know that He is God.

God is here. The God that Patti and Dave are speaking about is here, now.

He’s right next to you, right in you. It doesn’t matter where you are sitting. It doesn’t matter whether you’re thirsty. It doesn’t matter whether you’re hot and sweaty.

He is here.

God is here.

He wants to do in our souls, and He wants to do in our hearts, what He most loves to do.

He loves to invite us to repentance. He wants to give more of Himself to us. He is asking us to let go of things we may be holding on to that are blocking His love in our life.

We should be asking ourselves, “What should we do?” Because we’re not just celebrating something from the past. We are telling the story of One who is still present.

God is here now, wanting to do what He did in the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost and the Ark and the Dove (the retreat house in Pennsylvania where the Catholic Charismatic Renewal began). Ask the same question they asked of Peter on the day of Pentecost: “What shall we do?”

Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus.

We know from the Acts of the Apostles, the gift of the Holy Spirit isn’t just a one-time gift. When the apostles were facing persecution, they prayed for more of the Holy Spirit. We are facing difficulty and persecution all over the world. We need more of the Holy Spirit.

When Timothy got lukewarm in his ministry, Paul said, “Stir up the fire I gave you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Tm 1:6). That gift is meant to be stirred up. For some of us, maybe it’s gotten lukewarm. Some of us here maybe don’t even know why we’re here tonight. We heard of big things happening, and we’re curious.

What’s happening here tonight is the action of God being made visible in this most amazing gathering of people from 127 different countries, who have sacrificed to be here as witnesses, out of love for God.

Everybody here is a witness!

Everybody here is a witness to the action of God.

In a few minutes, we’re going to pray for more of the Holy Spirit. We need to prepare ourselves to do what Peter asked us to do on the day of Pentecost.

There’s lots of distraction. There’s lots of very wonderful excitement. There’s lots of wonderful celebration.

But God is here. The God that Patti and Dave were speaking about is here. Now.

He’s right next to you. He’s in you. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to convict us of ways in which we can have courage to be witnesses. It’s only because of the Holy Spirit that anybody can say that Jesus Christ is Lord. Every knee will bend and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

To anyone here who hasn’t surrendered their life to Jesus Christ, Jesus Himself is here, and He is speaking to you. He’s loving you, and He’s urging you, and He’s hungry for you to accept His love.

I’m going to close with something that Jesus said through the Holy Spirit to one of the first Christian communities: “I am the first and the last. I was dead, but now I’m alive. Behold, I am alive for ever and ever” (Rev 1: 17-18).

Jesus is alive forever and ever! He’s here tonight. He’s ready to heal. He’s ready to pour out the Holy Spirit. He’s ready to forgive sin. He’s ready to pour out His heart!

Let’s open our hearts to God!

Holy Spirit Transforms Fear into Courage

Pope Francis and patti Mansfield
Pope Francis and Patti Mansfield offer praise during an event for the Golden Jubilee of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

The following article, which originally appeared on zenit.org, discusses the meditation Pope Francis shared during the recent Golden Jubilee of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Ralph Martin was among the speakers for the Golden Jubilee events.

By 

Acknowledging that Pentecost Sunday marked the ‘birth’ of the Church, Pope Francis has stressed: “The coming of the Holy Spirit transforms men [who are] closed because of fear, into courageous witnesses of Jesus.”

Pope Francis made this observation on the afternoon of Saturday, June 3, at Rome’s Circus Maximus for the Vigil of Pentecost and an ecumenical prayer, on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of Catholic Charismatic Renewal, which ended the next day, Sunday, with the Mass of Pentecost, which he presided over in St. Peter’s Square.

In his remarks, Pope Francis told the Evangelicals gathered: “Peace is possible beginning from our confession that Jesus is the Lord and by our evangelization on this path. It is possible, while showing that we have differences – but this is obvious, we have differences –, but that we desire to be a ‘reconciled diversity.’”

The Holy Father also decried all those being persecuted and killed for their faith, now more than ever, and stressed, “All Christians are united by blood of the martyrs.”

On the stage with the Pope, were leaders of Charismatic Renewal and representatives of the Evangelical and Pentecostal Churches and other religious confessions.

The meeting was preceded by songs, readings and testimonies, and introduced by the meditations of Father Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M., Cap., Papal Household Preacher, and by Pastor Giovanni Traettino of the Evangelical Church of Reconciliation.

Here is a working translation of the Holy Father’s meditation, pronounced during the course of the meeting.

Continue reading here.

The Catholic Charismatic Renewal’s History

 

 

This is the second of a two-part series The 700 Club produced on the history of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. It features interviews with Ralph Martin, Patti Mansfield, and other, whose lives were transformed by this “current of grace.”