Talk for Charismatic Movement Leaders of the Archdiocese
CATHOLIC CHARISMATIC RENEWAL DAY OF TEACHING
SATURDAY 31ST OCTOBER 2015, 2PM
RHEINBERGER CENTRE, YARRALUMLA
GUEST SPEAKER: ARCHBISHOP CHRISTOPHER PROWSE
Welcome everybody! This has been a bit of a dream of mine. I have been wanting to gather all those participating in prayer groups, in different forms around the Archdiocese, to come together so that I can get to know you and to teach you even more fully about the marvels of God’s love, especially in the Scriptures.
I’d like to make three points.
Firstly, what we are experiencing is the most recent charismatic movement in the Catholic Church. It isn’t the first charismatic renewal into the Church.
In some ways I’d like to think that Mary the Mother of God received an infusion of the Holy Spirit when she said yes to the angel and became the Mother of God. She seemed to have anticipated the coming of the Holy Spirit. Then of course there is Pentecost and the coming down of the Spirit on the early Church. But other charismatic movements can be seen in the Church. I think of St Anthony of Egypt in the east and St Benedict in the west of Europe in the early centuries of the Church. These monks prayed hard day and night that the Holy Spirit would be manifested in their lives and the lives of the wider Church. We then have the religious orders of the 18th and 19th century. These orders came to Australia. Many of us have been educated by them. We thank each one of them for responding to the call of the Holy Spirit.
All charismatic movements in the Church are a great gift of God’s mercy – the gift of the Holy Spirit upon us.
There are many characteristics of this outpouring of the Spirit in people’s lives. People feel an even deeper hunger and thirst for the Sacraments, for the Scriptures, for silence.
A particular characteristic of this current charismatic movement of the Catholic Church is largely lay- led. It’s a bit like an electric current that goes through the Church. It enlivens us, gives us hope and apart from anything else gives us great joy. I do recall from the earliest days that the charismatic leaders wrote that they never wanted the movement to be a movement. They wanted to be like a current of the Holy Spirit going right throughout every member of the Church.
Other characteristics of this present charismatic movement is the rise of so many very committed Catholic charismatic covenant communities. These dynamic Christians are all missionary disciples throughout the world.
A second point I want to make is by making reference to the Act of the Apostles. Here we find the continuing out breaking of the Holy Spirit upon us.
Right at the very beginning of the Acts of the Apostles you sense that Christianity is far from being simply an academic exercise, but something that is real and active. We see this in the first line in the Acts of the Apostles, where St Luke addresses the one that he is writing to as “Theophilus” – a name meaning “lovers of the Lord”. We hear the Holy Spirit speak quite directly to the people. For instance in Acts 13:2, he says, “I want Barnabas and Saul set apart.” They are being sent out by the Holy Spirit.
But it is Peter and John I would like to focus on in regard to the continuing Acts of the Apostles in today’s world. In Acts 2:39, the writer says this, “This promise is for you.” We see this also in the death and the martyrdom of Stephen in Acts 7 and then of course there’s St Paul with Saul from Acts of the Apostles 13. The Acts of the Apostles, strangely, ends abruptly. In Acts 28:30 it simply says, “Proclaim the Kingdom of God and teach about the Lord Jesus Christ with boldness and without hindrance.” Here we find the true protagonist in the Acts of the Apostles, or leading agent, it is in fact the living testimony of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
So the true protagonist is the living testimony. This is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit given to us, but is even greater than us. The Holy Spirit uses us, but then the Holy Spirit will not be curtailed simply by us.
I’d like to make final comments about missionary discipleship in our own time, especially in our Archdiocese.
I’ve always enjoyed the little expression of St Francis who tells us exactly what evangelisation is when he says, “Evangelise always and if necessary use words.” Yes, as I’ve said before, we are evangelisers or missionaries, but we are not proselytisers. We offer our fragrance to a dull world, an attraction or fragrance that people would find intoxicating.
When we embrace the Lord we go out with joy. We welcome people into the Catholic Church, particularly in the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults).
It’s great to see in the Archdiocese many prayer groups that are ecumenical. But I’d like to see also many prayer groups that lead people into the Catholic Church. This is a real priority!
Let’s also always remember in our work as missionary disciples to tend to the poor and the oppressed in our society. Remember Mother Teresa’s quote, “You did it to me.” They are five simple words, but profound ones.
Finally, we must every now again gather with strength in each other. It’s so hard to live the Catholic life on your own. We do need to have the support of our community and like minded people. In this Archdiocese I would hope that this gathering happens once a year. Also, in 2017, the 50th anniversary of the charismatic movement in the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has invited us to Rome to celebrate this anniversary with him.
Thank you once again for being so faithful in your Christian lives. I wish you all God’s blessings in the times ahead.