Dear brothers and sisters,
I have just come to the end of an extraordinary four days.
In my role on the executive of the Catholic Fraternity I have been attending a charismatic retreat for priests, over 1000 of them in fact, in the St John Lateran basilica in Rome.
I’m delighted to say I met the pope myself for the second time, but the inner glow I received from that encounter was soon overshadowed by Fr. Ken, who was one of five priests selected to ask the Pope a question. Ken’s question was on how we can effectively communicate the truths of the faith in an increasingly secular society like Australia. He said to Pope Francis, “You yourself have done a great job with this, Holy Father. What is your secret?” (Open article at Vatican Radio) The pope’s answer was that we need to witness by gestures, and seek to attract others by living our faith in Jesus in such a way that people will ask of us the reason for the hope that lies within us (1 Peter 3.15). When the pope finished Ken got out of his seat, walked over to him and gave him a hug – and a copy of his book ‘His Name is Mercy’, which the Holy Father appeared delighted to receive. Needless to say I, Dave Tremble, Dan Strickland and all the other Aussies present felt extremely proud of Ken. The four other priests who asked the pope a question all went over to hug him afterwards as well, thinking that was what you were supposed to do.
The last evening of the retreat saw Patti Gallagher Mansfield leading prayer for a new outpouring of the Spirit over the priests (and the handful of lay people blessed to be there). The anointing was tangible, and very powerful. It was one of the most amazing things I have experienced in my 32 years of charismatic renewal.
In the pope’s address to the priests he reinforced his comments last year at the charismatic rally in the Olympic stadium in Rome. Check this out (from the Vatican Radio report):
The Pope also spoke about his experience of the Charismatic movement, saying that when he first encountered it, he thought they were “not right in the head”, but as he grew older he saw how wrong he was.
“I ask all of you, each of you, that as part of the current of grace of the Charismatic Renewal, to plan seminars of life in the Spirit, in your parishes, in your seminaries and schools … share the Baptism of the Spirit and your catechesis, because it is produced by the work Holy Spirit through a personal encounter with Jesus, which changes lives.”
In light of the pope’s renewed commission to share the Spirit with everyone, I’ve been reflecting on what’s been happening around the community. We have so much to be grateful for.
Light to the Nations was again a wonderful event. We had around 950 souls present and despite the challenging weather the spiritual blessings flowed abundantly.
I’m very grateful to the many, many community members who worked hard to bring it all together. Tony Bitar and the catering team deserve a special mention for the amazing work they put in to produce excellent food in really trying circumstances.
Financial sponsorship from the Australian Catholic University, Harvest Pilgrimages, Catholic Church Insurance and CSYMA was a blessing for us. For the first time in quite a few years we ended up in the black!
I was thrilled too with the Downpour Pentecost event in Sydney. The event was put together through the visionary leadership of Phil Ryall and the assistance of DOJ members from Sydney South, Wollongong, Sydney North, Blue Mountains and Canberra along with friends from the Servants of Jesus community. The current of grace was evidently flowing powerfully.
The Melbourne branch ran a wonderful Life in the Spirit seminar during the gatherings earlier this year. Many people attended and were deeply touched by the Lord. The rallies and youth events in Melbourne have likewise been powerfully anointed and very well attended.
In the Canberra branch we have been running a modified version of the Life in the Spirit Seminars which we have called ‘At home in the Spirit’. Six seminars were conducted simultaneously in homes around Canberra (one in Murrumbateman). It was wonderful to see St. Benedict’s Church in Narrabundah full when we gathered the six seminars together to pray for the outpouring of the Spirit at a Sunday gathering last month. In running ‘At Home in the Spirit’ the Canberra branch have been reminded of the spiritual principle: Give and there will be gifts for you. A number of community members have told me they have been energised through serving at the seminars. The truth is, the more love and grace you give away, the more comes back to you.
Lara and I are taking the whole Kirk tribe up for the Darwin Winter School next month. Brothers and sisters from other branches are coming as well and if the summer schools in January are anything to go by, it will be an anointed few days.
The current of grace is flowing steadily all around us!
Let’s remember that we are a charismatic community, inspired and empowered by the Spirit of God. From what I have just experienced in Rome I can see that powerful graces are being poured out. I encourage you to jump into the current once again!
Love and blessings to everyone,
Disciples of Jesus Covenant Community