Emptying ourselves into the Church

November 20, 2013

In Chapter Two of Volume Two of Sober Intoxication of the Spirit, Fr Cantalamessa presents the following perspective on the place of prayer groups, communities and the charismatic renewal in the Church (pp. 29-31):

CantalamessaI have asked myself sometimes what in some of the prayer groups and budding communities that are rising up here and there in the charismatic renewal pleases Jesus so much that he would manifest so much power and so many wonders in them.  It seemed to me that the secret of what makes them so precious to God is their absolute poverty, the fact that they have no past and hardly any future.  They are almost a “nothing,” like certain life forms that appear in the morning and disappear in the evening, reabsorbed into the great bosom of life, or like a little cloud that calmly disappears from the sky after having poured out all its water.

Traditional religious orders have a past, often a glorious one; recent ones (lay institutes; ecclesial movements) have a future and are sometimes very aware of it.  God is looking for something very, very small among so many grand and established groups (which do please him and are useful to him), something that he can take just as it is, without having to be concerned about its past or its future.  He is looking for something that will be useful to him, for an instant, something unencumbered that wants nothing and asks for nothing in return for pleasing God and for making his power and his wishes shine forth in the world.

Do we want to be that small thing that is precious to God?  Do we want to be that instrument of “nothing” in his omnipotent hand?  Then, let us not worry about “setting up house”; let us not worry about assuring that the charismatic renewal has a future among today’s ecclesial realities; let us not worry about numbers.

Let it be enough for us that the future of the Church is already assured.  Let the Church be enough for us, as institution.  For our part, let us try, if we can, to remain prophetic for the Church, even if it is only in small measure.  Let us continue to draw directly from the Church, especially from the local Church, all that is necessary to live a life of the Spirit — sacraments, authority, ministries, and doctrine.  Let us continue to pour out all that we are, even though we are small, directly into the bosom of life that is the Church — quietly or also openly, if it is possible and if it is requested.  Let us try to be that little cloud, ready to disappear, after it has poured out all its water on the Church.


I had hardly come into contact with the charismatic renewal when, one day in prayer, I was struck with certain thoughts.  I seemed to sense the new thing the Lord was doing in the Church through the charismatic renewal.  I took a sheet of paper and a pen and wrote down some thoughts, which surprised me, as they came without premeditation:

The Father wants to glorify the Son, Jesus Christ, on earth in a new way, through a new intervention.  The Holy Spirit is appointed to carry out this glorification because it is written:  “He will glorify me and take that which is mine.”  A Christian life entirely consecrated to God, without a founder, without a rule, and without new congregations.  The Founder:  Jesus!  The Rule:  the gospel interpreted by the Holy Spirit!  The Congregation:  the Church!  Do not worry about tomorrow, do not try to make something that will remain, and do not set in motion recognized organizations that can be perpetuated by successors….Jesus is a Founder who never dies, so there is no need for successors.  We always need to let him do new things, even tomorrow.  The Holy Spirit will remain in the Church, even tomorrow!


“…a crisis of identity and purpose”

November 18, 2013

Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput addressed bishops from Canada, the United States and Latin America at a meeting sponsored by the Pontifical Commission for Latin America on Saturday, November 16th in Mexico City.  He highlighted some challenges confronting the New Evangelization in our part of the world.

Exercise your charism of healing

November 12, 2013

Challenging talk on healing by Dr Margarett Schlientz (described in this article):

Can you confidently say “Look at me”?

November 10, 2013

Msgr Charles Pope recently offered a wonderful post on the New Evangelization.  It included this insightful mini-examen regarding our relationship with Jesus:

Critical though it is, all the apologetics in the world may founder if we cannot authentically and authoritatively answer the question “How do I know it’s true?” by saying, authentically:

“Look at me. ” In other words to be able to say, “This word, this teaching, is true, because in the laboratory of my own life, I have tested it, and found it to be true, and here’s how. And Jesus is real, because I have met him and here’s when, and here is how. And here is how I’m experiencing him today in my life. Yes, when I pray, I am heard. The Lord speaks in the depths of my heart, sometimes in wordless contemplation, at other times vividly through his proclaimed word, and in my mind, and in the experiences and interactions of my day. I see him, I know him, and I experience his presence, and this is changing my life.”

  • Can you authentically speak like this?
  • Have you met the Lord,?
  • How, when?
  • Do you know him?
  • And how is your relationship with him changing your life?
  • What has your walk with him done?
  • Have you encountered him in his word, and in the sacraments celebrated?
  • How, when, and what has this liturgical experience of the Lord done for you?
  • How is it changing you?

These are essential questions and truths to ponder to be able to answer briefly and articulately if we are going to personally evangelize others today.

Ask the Holy Spirit to anoint you to know the answers to these sorts of questions, and to be able to access the memories of how the Lord is living, working and relating with you in your life. Ask God the Holy Spirit to help you form a testimony, so as to become a first-hand witness to the power of the Lord in your life!

It would be a good exercise for us to answer the questions he poses.  If we struggle to provide answers to these questions, perhaps we are assuming more of a relationship with Jesus than we really have with Him.  If the answers we provide are weak, perhaps we need to strengthen our efforts to seek the Lord and implore His grace.  If our personal attempts to evangelize have been not been fruitful, it could be because the foundation of our efforts – our personal relationship with Jesus – needs to be fortified.

In a follow-up post, Msgr Pope shares his personal testimony.

Pope Francis teaches on charisms

November 7, 2013

Francis GA

In his weekly General Audience yesterday, Pope Francis reminded us that communion among Christians grows when we exercise our charisms selflessly, and poses some charism-related questions for our reflection:

A second aspect of communion in holy things is that of the communion of charisms. The Holy Spirit dispenses to the faithful a multitude of spiritual gifts and graces; this so to speak “fanciful” richness of gifts of the Holy Spirit is aimed at the building of the Church. The charisms – a somewhat difficult word – are presents that the Holy Spirit gives us, abilities, possibilities … Presents given not for them to be hidden, but to share with others. They are not given for the benefit of the one who receives them, but for the benefit of the People of God. If, instead, a charism, one of these presents, serves to affirm the self, we must doubt that it is a genuine charism or that it is faithfully lived. The charisms are particular graces given to some to do good to many others. They are attitudes, inspirations and interior impulses, which are born in the conscience and in the experience of specific persons, who are called to put them at the service of the community. In particular, these spiritual gifts are for the advantage of the sanctity of the Church and of her mission. We are all called to respect them in ourselves and in others, to receive them as useful stimulants for the presence and fecund work of the Church. Saint Paul admonished: “Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Let us not quench the Spirit that gives us these presents, these abilities, these very beautiful virtues that make the Church grow.

What is our attitude in face of these gifts of the Holy Spirit? Are we aware that the Spirit of God is free to give them to whom He wishes? Do we consider them as a spiritual help, through which the Lord sustains our faith and reinforces our mission in the world?

New President of the Catholic Fraternity

November 7, 2013

As a result of the recent election held in Assisi — and attended by Jim & Valerie Gialanella — the new President of the Catholic Fraternity is Gilberto Barbosa, who is a leader in the Asociaçao Comunidade Obra de Maria (OPUS MARIAE) in Brazil.

Happy Anniversary, Fr Leo!!

November 6, 2013

Greetings to and prayers of thanksgiving for the Spiritual Moderator of our Community, Fr Leo McKernan, as he celebrates the 30th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.  Fr Leo was ordained by the late John Cardinal O’Connor during his short tenure as Bishop of Scranton in 1983-1984.

John Cardinal O'Connor

John Cardinal O’Connor

Synod prep

November 4, 2013

Almost a month after Pope Francis called for a synod in October which will discuss the pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization, Rocco updates us in this post, which includes the entire text of the preparatory document, which he describes as

…an initial summary to guide the preparations for next October’s Extraordinary Synod on “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family,” with specific questions for the local churches to answer over the year to come with an eye to aiding the process.

Dated 18 October, the summary with a cover-letter from the newly-named Secretary-General of the Synod, Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, was circulated yesterday to the US bishops via the conference, seeking the body’s input by December 31st to forward to Rome. (Ostensibly released to the bench via the private “bishops-only website,” a copy of the package was obtained by Whispers earlier today.) In keeping with Baldisseri’s request that Chanceries share the text “as widely as possible to deaneries and parishes” for their input, some Stateside dioceses have already begun to move toward extending the consultation process into the local level.

He also highlights the primary differences between a normal synod and an extraordinary synod:

…the distinction from the norm lies largely in a more intimate, less clunky – and as a result, arguably more effective – format; unlike the ordinary assembly (comprised of scores of elected bishop-delegates and appointed observers), an extraordinary Synod’s makeup consists mostly of the presidents of the episcopal conferences ex officio, with a select number of papal appointees. In addition, the 2014 gathering’s two-week duration – 5-19 October – is a reduction by half of the Synods’ eventual length over most of John Paul II’s pontificate…Further information on the Synod’s altered modus operandi will be given next Tuesday at a Vatican press conference…

In addition to the synod’s preparatory document, it might be good to review Bd John Paul II’s teaching on the family in Familiaris Consortio and “Letter to Families.”

Click “Read the rest of this entry” to read the text of the preparatory document as it was reprinted by Rocco.

Read the rest of this entry »

Francis on family

November 4, 2013

Pope Francis recently welcomed the “Pilgrimage of the Families of the World for the Year of Faith” at the Vatican.  Read his address, his homily, and his prayer.
Here’s an excerpt from his address:

Some weeks ago, in this very square, I said that in order to have a healthy family, three words need to be used. And I want to repeat these three words: please, thank you, sorry. Three essential words! We say please so as not to be forceful in family life: “May I please do this? Would you be happy if I did this?”. We do this with a language that seeks agreement. We say thank you, thank you for love! But be honest with me, how many times do you say thank you to your wife, and you to your husband? How many days go by without uttering this word, thanks! And the last word: sorry. We all make mistakes and on occasion someone gets offended in the marriage, in the family, and sometimes – I say – plates are smashed, harsh words are spoken but please listen to my advice: don’t ever let the sun set without reconciling. Peace is made each day in the family: “Please forgive me”, and then you start over. Please, thank you, sorry! Shall we say them together? [They reply “yes”] Please, thank you and sorry. Let us say these words in our families! To forgive one another each day!

Benedict XVI on death

November 2, 2013

As we remember the departed this All Souls Day in the Year of Faith, it would be good to ponder Benedict XVI’s 2006 reflection on death.
Here’s an excerpt:

Faith reminds us that there is no need to be afraid of the death of the body because, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s [Rm 14: 8]. And with St Paul, we know that even if we are separated from our bodies we are with Christ, whose Risen Body, which we receive in the Eucharist, is our eternal and indestructible dwelling place.

True death, on the other hand, which is to be feared, is the death of the soul which the Book of Revelation calls “the second death” (cf. Rv 20: 14-15; 21: 8). In fact, those who die in mortal sin without repentance, locked into their proud rejection of God’s love, exclude themselves from the Kingdom of life.

New Evangelization motivation

October 30, 2013

Read Rocco’s post.  Then listen to the audio of Cardinal Maradiaga’s lively address (in the SoundCloud box in Rocco’s post).  Great stuff!!

The Church Alive on Salt + Light TV

October 26, 2013

Church AliveA few weeks ago, Salt + Light TV in Canada launched an innovative series on the New Evangelization in the Church:

The Church Alive” is a fast-paced, segmented and interactive show hosted by Salt + Light producers Cheridan Sanders and Sebastian Gomes.  This unique series will be both television and web based.  The goal: to inspire people and get them talking about the faith, to share stories of the New Evangelization, and to highlight the broad and inclusive nature of Catholicism and its rich tradition.

The episode on the role of the laity was excellent:

Salt + Light TV can be seen live via the internet.  Upcoming episodes of “The Church Alive” that may be of special interest to us are Nov 10th’s “Ecclesial Movements” and Nov 17th’s “Ecumenism.”  The episodes air live on Sundays at 9:00 p.m., with repeats as follows:
Wed at 9am ET
Thur at 9pm ET
Fri at 1am & 1:30pm ET

Episodes can also be viewed at Salt + Light’s YouTube Channel.

Intensify your personal encounter with Jesus

October 23, 2013

Here are 25 ways in which true disciples can nurture and deepen their intimate personal relationship (communion) with Jesus:

  1. Foster an abiding desire for Jesus in your life, especially through a commitment to daily prayer
  2. Prepare for Sunday Mass by spending time in lectio divina with the upcoming Sunday Gospel reading, focusing on the person and the teaching of Jesus
  3. See the priest at Mass as truly in persona Christi (in the person of Christ), and the congregation as the Body of Christ
  4. Make a truly heartfelt thanksgiving to our Lord after receiving Jesus in Holy Communion (like this, but in your own words)
  5. If you don’t get to daily Mass, make a prayerful spiritual communion each day
  6. Spend time in prayerful Eucharistic Adoration whenever possible
  7. Read from the Gospels frequently
  8. Contemplate the Face of Christ in the Gospels
  9. Read a spiritually inspiring commentary on the Gospels (I highly recommend The Better Part by Fr John Bartunek LC)
  10. Use a good Christ-centered prayer book during your prayer time, such as Praying with Our Lord Jesus Christ by Fr Benedict Groeschel CFR
  11. Pray and meditate on the Litanies of Jesus (Sacred Heart, Precious Blood, Holy NameFace of Christ)
  12. Pray and meditate on the Titles of Jesus
  13. Cultivate a true friendship with Jesus (cf. Jn 15:12-17)
  14. Engage in frequent colloquies with Jesus (colloquies are short periods of talking with Jesus as one friend would talk to another)
  15. Practice the presence of Jesus in your heart throughout the day
  16. Occasionally allow yourself to burst forth in brief spontaneous exclamations of praise to Jesus
  17. Read the five best books on Jesus:
    1. To Know Christ Jesus – Frank Sheed
    2. My Beloved Son – Fr Lovasik
    3. Life of Christ – Bp Sheen
    4. The Lord – Msgr Guardini
    5. Jesus of Nazareth (3 volumes) – Benedict XVI
  18. Read other books that have an especially good section exploring the person of Jesus:
    1. Divine Intimacy – Fr Gabriel
    2. Christ in the Psalms – Patrick Henry Reardon
  19. Meditate on the Mysteries of Jesus as you pray the rosary (this book will help)
  20. Delve more deeply into the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
  21. Read/study Church teaching on Jesus and on the Holy Eucharist, noting especially the teaching on the Real Presence of Jesus
  22. Be sure to focus on Jesus as you pray the Divine Mercy chaplet (prayers like this and this will help)
  23. Remember to consciously and intentionally unite your sufferings to those of Jesus, and then offer them to the Father
  24. In your nightly examen, look especially for those times when Jesus was present to you or at work in you
  25. Strive to allow Jesus to know you (cf. Mt 7:23 & Lk 13:27)

Feel free to add more in the Comment Box.

Becoming what we are meant to be

October 22, 2013

di-noiaLast month’s Orange County Prayer Breakfast in California featured Abp Augustine DiNoia OP as the keynote speaker.  His talk was entitled “Becoming Like Christ: How the Liturgy Shapes Our Lives.”  However, don’t allow the title to mislead you into thinking that this is a discussion of the rubrics, format or other details of the Eucharistic liturgy.  In this tremendous presentation, he teaches us — in truly Dominican style — the meaning of life and how the liturgy in general is our guide to our fulfillment: to become like Jesus.

What a brilliant teacher Abp DiNoia is!!  He adeptly employs analogies to make his points more understandable.  He appropriately cites examples from the saints and references to popes.  As a true Dominican, he doesn’t fail to mention the rosary.  At times, he speaks with a controlled but intense passion which drew me in and engaged my heart.  The charismatic in me appreciated his enthusiastic reference to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (around the 24:00 to 25:00 minute mark).  Underlying all this is his effective use of Sacred Scripture.  Very inspiring!  You’ll surely find much in this talk to reflect on in your prayer time and beyond.

Back to the basics

October 21, 2013

If you find yourself getting spiritually complacent, or if you feel overwhelmed by the many demands of daily life, then this article by Msgr Charles Pope may help you to re-focus your priorities.

Two inspiring interviews on evangelization

October 20, 2013

First: (audio)
Al Kresta discusses the urgency of the new evangelization with Ralph Martin here (or here) [from 5:15 to 34:20].

Second: (video)
Ralph Martin and Fr John Riccardo discuss evangelization and discipleship from a parish perspective here.

Remembering Jogues et al

October 19, 2013

In honor of today’s Memorial of Saints John de Brébeuf and Isaac Jogues and their companions, here’s a sample of what they endured in their efforts to save souls.  It’s an excerpt from “Saint Among Savages,” the classic book on the life of St Isaac Jogues (these paragraphs are from the chapter entitled “Along the Trail of Torture”).

When the Mohawks (a tribe of the Iroquois confederation) captured Fr Jogues and his companions (consisting of his fellow priests, a few French laymen, and the Hurons who had converted to Christianity), they took them to the various villages along the rivers and lakes.  At each Indian village, the Mohawks encouraged their local brethren to “caress” their trophy prisoners, which began with having them run a gauntlet.  Having traveled from the point of their capture for several days already with no food, they arrived at the first such village::

The prisoners were stripped totally naked, and whipped into file.  The old men were placed at the head, for they would set a slower pace.  The stronger Hurons were interspersed with the weaker.  Couture was in the forefront; Goupil in the middle; and Jogues, as the greatest in dignity was held as the last, so that his punishment might be the greatest.  The signal was given.  The first of the Hurons was driven between the lines of Iroquois.  He ran blindly, while the executioners pounded down blows [using clubs and switches of thorny rods] on his head and body and legs.  Another Huron was fed in; the shrieks grew diabolical; Couture rushed into the midst of the whirling clubs; then other Hurons; then Goupil; the outcries were blood-curdling; the hill was a mass of wild passions.

Father Jogues saw it all as he waited for his own ordeal of running the gauntlet.  He was shoved between the columns.  Blows beat down on his head and neck and arms, thudding blows, stinging strokes of switches and thorns, on his sides, on his legs.  Madly he tried to race up the hill.  They tripped and impeded him.  He fought forward.  He stumbled, and fell to the ground ere he had gone a hundred steps.  They showered more blows on him to make him rise.  He tried to escape; but he was hurled back.  He was numbed, paralyzed.  He felt nothing.  The Mohawks kicked and beat him the more; but he did not move.  They dragged him unconscious to the top of the hill.

When he opened his eyes, Jogues found himself lying on the rocky ledge at the top of the hill.  In the center of the open space he saw a platform, half the height of a man, roughly strung together from branches and wattle.  His comrades were being driven to mount it, while the Iroquois giddily whirled around and showered them with blows.  He was discovered revived; then he, too, was lifted roughly and thrown on the stage.  They hauled him up to a standing position, but he sank down to the wood, utterly unable to support himself.  The savages dug into his flesh with their finger nails and thrust burning fagots against his arms and thighs.  He could not move to protect himself.  One of them took his thumb and bit it, crunching and macerating it until the flesh was torn to bits and the bone exposed.  Another held a live coal against his other fingers.  Under the onslaught, once more he swooned off, lifeless.


The Mohawks were finished with the French and threw them off the staging.  They turned with newer vigor on the Hurons.  Ahatsistari was the center of their rage.  Jogues watched his sufferings with growing terror.  He saw them slash the flesh with their long knives, from head to feet, saw them staunch the blood with burning torches.  Eustace stood unmoved, never flinching, taunting and maddening them by his words of courage.  They lifted his arms, and severed both of his thumbs in revenge for the arrows he had directed into the hearts of their kinsmen.  He remained unmoved.  One of the Mohawks took a tough stake, cleared of the bark and well pointed; he rammed it into the socket from which the thumb of the left hand had been amputated.  He forced the wood up through the flesh until it protruded at the elbow.  Eustace held his composure.  He would not disgrace his people by twitching a muscle; he would not show himself a coward and thus give satisfaction to his enemies.  He drew himself up more proudly, invincible.

Women’s Day — October 19th

October 13, 2013

A Women’s Day of Prayer with the theme “Mary, Model of Faith” will be held on Saturday, October 19th at the Holy Family Spiritual Renewal Center located at 151 Old Newport Street in Nanticoke.  The day will start with a light breakfast available during the registration period from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., followed by song and prayer, Mass at 10:00 a.m., teaching and discussion, lunch, rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy.  The teaching and discussion topic will be Pope Francis’ encyclical, “The Light of Faith”.  The day will conclude around 3:00 p.m.  A donation of $30.00 per person is requested.  Reservations are strongly encouraged to help with planning, and can be made by calling Joyce Hudak (735-1068), or via email to pogcnepa@gmail.com.  Here’s a printable flyer.

womens day

A daughter honors her father

October 12, 2013

LevElizabeth Lev, a contributing writer to Zenit, writes about her recently-deceased father, who was Jewish.  Brilliant.  Touching.  Inspiring!

ICCRS anniversary

October 10, 2013

Read about it here.