This post originally appeared on the blog Catholic Strength. Renewal Ministries is mentioned in the fifth suggestion: Attend a Life in the Spirit Seminar.
By Tom Mulcahy
Introduction: To discover the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit is one of the greatest experiences a human being can undergo. Consequently, here are ten suggestions for drawing closer to the Holy Spirit. In The Holy Spirit, a great spiritual writer, Father Edward Leen, says that “Christians do not dwell as they ought on the immense advantages that they may derive from the intimate friendship which the Holy Spirit is eager to establish between them and himself, as God.” Father Leen continues: “The Holy Spirit has…an infinite capacity for friendship. . . . The Holy Spirit is laden with all the secrets of God—secrets not only of surpassing interest in themselves but of great import for the creature. These deep things of God the Holy Spirit is all eagerness to communicate to the soul, as in the tendency of friendship. Unfortunately, the creature, too often, is a listless and inattentive listener . . .” It is my hope that one or more of the following suggestions might increase your friendship with the Holy Spirit, who is the very source of the Divine friendship.
A member of our staff recently sat down with Peter Herbeck to discuss what he sees as the great call and opportunity for every Christian today. This article originally appeared in the August 2017 Renewal Ministries’ newsletter, which can be viewed here.
Q: Your newest booklet, Light in the Darkness, discusses the many challenges of our times. How can these challenges become an obstacle to Christians?
A: The constant stream of news often grips people with worry and anxiety. It stifles the work of the Spirit in us, making it difficult to keep first things first, to recognize what’s most important, and to see the great opportunity that exists in the midst of this challenge.
We can’t be constantly plugged into the voice of the world—which is filled with anxiety—and still hear what the Spirit is saying to enable us to maximize our service to the Lord.
Q: What do you think the Spirit is saying to us?
A: We need to lay hold of our identity in Christ. We are sons and daughters of God. We are loved by the Father. It sounds obvious, but if we lose sight of it or just live it on the surface—if it’s not sinking into our hearts—we won’t have the confidence and peace of knowing that we live in the hands of a loving Father. That knowledge is what helps us transcend the circumstances of our lives.
Q: What do you think is the second part of His message?
A: We are on mission. As Pope Francis says in Evangelii Gaudium (EG), “That is the reason why I am here in this world. We have to regard ourselves as sealed, even branded, by this mission of bringing light, blessing, enlivening, raising up, healing and freeing” (273).
Q: How does the Holy Spirit help us with this mission?
A: I am a child of God, and I can say all is well, even in the midst of trials. God said, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). The Holy Spirit helps me to see the circumstances of my life do not dictate how I am going to live or understand myself. So I will not let circumstances steal my joy, peace, the clarity of my identity, or my security in God.
Jesus tells us, “Do not worry about your life” (Mt 6:25). He wants disciples to internalize that—or we won’t be useful to Him in the way He wants us to be. That is why He says to “strive first for the kingdom of God . . . and all these things will be given to you as well” (Mt 25:33).
Q: Can you share an example of living out this call to trust?
A: When I was a young, married guy working in full-time ministry, my financial support was drying up, and I got filled with a lot of fear. I wondered if I’d missed what I was supposed to do with my life. In that state of fear and panic, my circumstances began to control my thinking. I looked for a new job, without really bringing it to the Lord.
Then, in prayer, I heard the Lord say, “You can take the job, but I want to show you what’s leading you to take the job: You’re scared. I need to teach you what it means to be my disciple. I am faithful to everyone I call, and I can provide. I am going to release money to you that I have set aside, that the devil has tried to hold back. When it comes, I want you to make a decision. There is a battle going on, and I have a mission for you. You can choose either way (to stay in ministry or to pursue other work); I will still love you.”
In the next few weeks, some totally surprising donations came in—about $4000. One friend, who knew nothing about my situation, sent a card saying that in his prayer time, the Lord had asked him to send me money.
Q: What did that experience teach you?
A: That I am called. I am a son. He is faithful. Panic and fear are human emotions, but if you let them control you, it’s easy to go off the Lord’s path.
Q: How do you see this reflected in people’s lives today?
A: The world’s circumstances are causing fear, and people want to protect themselves and secure a place of safety, rather than to live the Lord’s call.
If you are in that position, just repent and turn back to Him. Your circumstances don’t determine your destiny; your response to Jesus determines your destiny. Now is the time to be a light to the world, to be salt to the earth.
Take Jesus’ perspective of the world: “In this world, you will have tribulations; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33).
What an amazing witness to an anxious world! We can be of good cheer!
Q: What is the key to a relationship with Jesus that allows people to respond to Him with this kind of confidence?
A: Regularly spending time with the Lord in prayer. It won’t come from anywhere else. It comes from being with Him.
Also, Pope John Paul II emphasized the need for prayer, community, and mission. In addition to daily, ever-deepening prayer that is the foundation of our identities and fruitfulness, we need community. The Lord wants us to gather with brothers and sisters who share our same mission. He wants us to risk opening our lives and sharing our burdens, and to be accountable. He wants us to help each other be salt and light, and to love God and neighbor. The devil’s strategy is to isolate us and to cripple us with loneliness.
The Lord wants us to be on mission, both individually and as a community. He is sending us to make disciples.
Finally, we need to live in the presence of the Holy Spirit. One of the fundamental characteristics of the Holy Spirit in the Bible is to create movement. The Holy Spirit makes us capable of responding.
Q: In addition to understanding our mission on a community level, how can we determine our individual call and mission from the Lord?
A: We learn about our identity on a deeper level through prayer. Ask the Lord, “How do You want me to live out my individual mission?” Also, in a community, people can help us discern our gifts and understand how God has equipped us.
At ninety-three, my mom prayed all fifteen decades of the rosary daily, read Scripture, and prayed for a long list of people. She had a walker and didn’t go outside much, but she was very alive to the mission and felt very much a part of it.
Also, I had a good friend who was active in church attendance, but not much else. One day, his pastor said he needed someone to distribute Communion at the hospital. His wife nudged him, thinking it would be a good fit, but he didn’t think he would have a good bedside manner or be spiritual enough to help people. However, when the pastor asked again the next week, my friend offered his services. He continued in that position for over twenty years and became a central figure in that hospital, through praying with people and both bringing them into the Church and helping prepare them for heaven.
Knock, ask, seek. If you are determined and you’re open, He will show you the role you are supposed to play.
Q: You spoke about challenging times providing an opportunity to serve the Lord. How is that possible?
A: The need is so great right now, as is the seriousness of the spiritual battle we are facing. Jesus helped Teresa of Avila understand what service He prizes most: “I think He prizes one soul which, by His mercy and through our diligence and prayer, we may have gained for Him, more than all the other services we can render Him.”
That’s something we all can do: to pray, fast, and labor with the Lord for the salvation of the men and women of our generation. Pope Francis confirmed that call for each one of us: “Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization” (EG 120).
We need to resist the paralyzing fear and anxiety that dominates the world today, keep our heads clear, and stay focused on the mission the Lord has personally given to each one of us.
This is a moment of opportunity to give the Lord what He most desires, the salvation of souls.
I think our whole life is a journey to discover more and more the wonder of being created IN THE IMAGE OF GOD!! And the even greater wonder of being re-created—the image restored through the grime of sin and the wounds of the world—through union with the death and resurrection of Jesus in faith and baptism through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Even though we celebrated the feast of Pentecost last month, along with the fiftieth anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal with special events in Rome, I still find myself thinking a lot about the amazing role of the Holy Spirit in each of our lives.
It began with re-reading The Confession of St. Patrick—a short account that he himself wrote of his conversion and mission in Ireland—where I found a strange formulation that puzzled me for a long time. Patrick wrote:
“On yet another occasion I saw a person praying within me. I was as it seemed inside my body and I heard him over me, that is, over the inner man. There he was, praying with great emotion. All the time I was puzzled as I wondered greatly who could possibly be praying inside me. He spoke, however, at the end of the prayer, saying that he was the Spirit. In this way I learned by experience and I recalled the words of the Apostle: the Spirit helps the weaknesses of our prayer; for we do not know how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit himself pleads for us with signs unutterable that cannot be put into words. Again: The Lord our Advocate pleads for us.”
At first, I thought Patrick must be mistaken, and it was certainly Jesus who was praying within him, but then I eventually realized that Patrick was given a vivid experience of the Holy Spirit as a PERSON and not just an impersonal force or energy that we can sometimes imagine Him to be. A PERSON PRAYING WITHIN US WITH GREAT EMOTION! How wonderful, how amazing, how helpful, how encouraging! So let us join our prayer with the prayer of the person of the Holy Spirit, crying out for the will of God to be done in us and in all men and women!
The second insight I received into the Holy Spirit occurred during Holy Week, when Anne and I were watching one of those videos about the life and death of Jesus. It wasn’t one of the famous ones, but one that was free on our video service. I don’t know if the actors who played the apostles were simply not the greatest actors, but I got such a strong sense of how amazing it was that the Lord entrusted His mission to these very human men who seemed quite ill equipped for such a mission.
We know from the Scriptures that they were “uneducated,” which made the Pharisees wonder where they got their right to teach. And then I thought: “Wow, where would we be, where would the Church be, where would one billion Christians alive today be, if the Holy Spirit hadn’t fallen on the apostles and given them such a vivid experience of the risen Jesus and such an infusion of supernatural courage, clarity, certainty, boldness, and fortitude that they actually were to carry out the mission, even to the giving of their lives in martyrdom?”
Thanks be to God for the gift of the Holy Spirit! Jesus was really speaking the truth when He told the apostles it was better that He left them and returned to the Father, so the Holy Spirit could be given to them and to “all those whom God is calling to Himself.”
Let us thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit to each of us personally, for the gift of the indwelling PERSON of the Holy Spirit!
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.
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.
A new documentary airs online Divine Mercy weekend that features Ralph Martin, Dr. Mary Healy, Fr. Mathias Thelen, and a hunger to see more of God’s power at work in evangelization.
Fearless is a compelling journey of discovery to find the missing piece of the New Evangelization—the Divine Power.
Early-bird pricing for the movie—which is only available for viewing online—ends April 15. The movie airs April 22-24, and online tickets likely will not be available after those dates. Please purchase tickets by clicking on the link here, or through Renewal Ministries’ homepage here. These are affiliate links that enable your purchase to support the work of Renewal Ministries.
The premier ticket option early-bird price is $19.97 and includes lifetime access to the film, an opportunity to connect with other people viewing the film, bonus clips, expert commentaries, and testimony interviews.
Fr. Mike Schmitz said, “Fearless is a powerful video that demonstrates that we can trust the Father . . . it demonstrates the living and active power of God that continues to be working in the Church and in the world now. Fearless is a great witness to the fact that Jesus continues to move today. Our faith does not rest on human wisdom, but on the Holy Spirit of power. Fearless is a testimony to this reality.”
Fr. Dave Pivonka said, “Fearless sheds light on what the Christian life can look like for the Catholic who is freed from fear and allows the Holy Spirit to be more active in his or her life. By the sharing of personal experiences Fearless chronicles what God can do in and through men and women who allow the Spirit of God to lead them. Anyone who is interested in releasing the power of God in their life should make a point of watching Fearless.”
You can listen to audience reactions to the movie here.
One woman responded, “I didn’t realize how important the message of forgiveness is to healing. And the fact that Jesus is alive with us today, ever present, just like He was 2000 years ago, healing people. He’s working through us now to do the same.”
Another said, “You need to see it to open to your heart to the Holy Spirit. I’m so excited to see what He’s going to do in people’s lives. It just lights a fire in our hearts.”