ALL THE DIFFERENCE

 

CARDINAL Sarah was blunt: “A West that denies its faith, its history, its roots, and its identity is destined for contempt, for death, and disappearance.” [1] Statistics reveal that this is not a prophetic warning—it’s a prophetic fulfillment:

Unbridled passions will give way to a total corruption of customs because Satan will reign through the Masonic sects, targeting the children in particular to insure general corruption…. The sacrament of Matrimony, which symbolizes the union of Christ with the Church, will be thoroughly attacked and profaned. Masonry, then reigning, will implement iniquitous laws aimed at extinguishing this sacrament. They will make it easy for all to live in sin, thus multiplying the birth of illegitimate children without the Church’s blessing…. In those times the atmosphere will be saturated with the spirit of impurity which, like a filthy sea, will engulf the streets and public places with incredible license.… Innocence will scarcely be found in children, or modesty in women. —Our Lady of Good Success to Ven. Mother Mariana on the Feast of the Purification, 1634; see tfp.org and catholictradition.org

The percentage of Americans who claim to have no religion has risen by 266% since 1991[2] while in Canada, Pew Research reports that ‘the number of Canadians with no religious affiliation has been rising, and attendance at religious services has been dropping’; those who identify as Catholic have dropped from 47% to 39% over four decades.[3] In Latin America, Catholics will no longer be in the majority by 2030. And in just four years, the number of Chilean Catholics dropped by 11%—despite a Latin American pontiff.[4] In Australia, a recent census reveals that the number of people indicating they had ‘No Religion’ has increased by a staggering 5o% from just 2011 to 2016.[5] In Ireland, only 18% of Catholics were attending Mass regularly by 2011.[6] And Europeans have abandoned Christianity such that only 2% of Belgian youth say they go to Mass every week; in Hungary, 3%; Austria, 3%; Lithuania, 5%; and Germany, 6%. [7]

Here’s another statistic: After Jesus Christ gathered thousands around Him, healing their sick, raising the dead, casting out their demons and miraculously feeding them… only a few of His followers remained beneath the Cross. Even after His Resurrection and Ascension, there was but a handful that gathered in the Upper Room to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. And when the Spirit came?

Three thousand were converted that day.

The moral of the story: the Church must gather once again in the “upper room” of prayer and repentance to implore, as it were, a new Pentecost. Since St. John XXIII, this has indeed been the prayer of every pope:

This stifling worldliness can only be healed by breathing in the pure air of the Holy Spirit who frees us from self-centredness cloaked in an outward religiosity bereft of God. —POPE FRANCIS,Evangelii Gaudium, n. 97

Not that Pentecost has ever ceased to be an actuality during the whole history of the Church, but so great are the needs and the perils of the present age, so vast the horizon of mankind drawn towards world coexistence and powerless to achieve it, that there is no salvation for it except in a new outpouring of the gift of God. —POPE ST. PAUL VI, Gaudete in Domino, May 9th, 1975, Sect. VII; www.vatican.va

But wait. Haven’t we already received the Holy Spirit in Baptism and Confirmation…?

 

FILLED… AGAIN, AND AGAIN

What is the following event described in the Acts of the Apostles?:

When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31)

Did you guess “Pentecost”? That’s incorrect. Pentecost occurred two chapters earlier. And yet we read that at both events, the same men “were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” [8] How can they be filled again? And again?

The Angel Gabriel greeted Mary as one “full of grace,” or as Dr. Scott Hahn explains, she who…

…”has been” and “is now” filled with divine life. —Ignatius Catholic Bible Study, footnote on Luke 1:28; p. 105

That is, Mary was already “filled with the Holy Spirit” prior to the Annunciation. But a new divine action was necessary in the world. And thus, the Holy Spirit “overshadowed” her, that is, “filled” her again (and then again at Pentecost).

Filled with the Holy Spirit she makes the Word visible in the humility of his flesh. —Catchechism of the Catholic Church, n. 724

The Word made flesh, Jesus who is God, He who is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit. But can He, too, be “filled” with the Spirit? Indeed, we read that “the Holy Spirit descended upon him” and that He was “full of the Holy Spirit.” [9] Moreover, as he emerged from forty days of temptation in the wilderness, Jesus returned “in the power of the Spirit.” [10]

We so often find in the Scriptures that prior to a pivotal word or action, whether it was that of John the Baptist,[11] Elizabeth,[12] Zechariah,[13] Peter,[14] Stephen,[15] Paul[16] or others,[17] that they were first “filled with the Holy Spirit.” What followed was a manifestation of God’s active presence:

…the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. (1 Cor 12:8-10)

In the Sacraments of Initiation, we are indeed sealed indelibly with the Holy Spirit. But through the course of our lives, if we are docile to the working of grace, we too can be filled with the Spirit, again and again.

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!… for he does not ration his gift of the Spirit. (Luke 11:13, John 3:34)

 

COME HOLY SPIRIT

Without the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, however, Christians are rendered impotent. As Pope Paul VI said,

Techniques of evangelization are good, but even the most advanced ones could not replace the gentle action of the Spirit. The most perfect preparation of the evangelizer has no effect without the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit the most convincing dialectic has no power over the heart of man. —Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 75

So too, in marriage:

Those two who… “become one body” (Gen 2:24), cannot bring about this union on the proper level of persons (communion personarum) except throug the powers coming from the spirit, and precisely from the Holy Spirit who purifies, enlivens, strengthens, and perfects the powers of the human spirit. “It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless” (Jn 6:63). —POPE ST. JOHN PAUL II, General Audience, November 14th, 1984; Theology of the Body, pp. 415-416

Many are baptized and confirmed. But very often, Catholics have not experienced a “release” of the Spirit in their lives, a “stirring” of grace and power which, in fact, makes all the difference. Said St. John the Baptist:

I baptize you with water for repentance… he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (Matt 3:11)

This being “filled with the Holy Spirit” has come to be known in some circles as “baptism in the Holy Spirit” or the “outpouring” or “infilling” of the Spirit.

…this grace of Pentecost, known as Baptism in the Holy Spirit, does not belong to any particular movement but to the whole Church. In fact, it is really nothing new but has been part of God’s design for His people from that first Pentecost in Jerusalem and through the history of the Church. Indeed, this grace of Pentecost has been seen in the life and practice of the Church, according to the writings of the Fathers of the Church, as normative for Christian living and as integral to the fullness of Christian Initiation. —Most Reverend Sam G. Jacobs, Bishop of Alexandria, LA;Fanning the Flame, p. 7, by McDonnell and Montague

This grace often ignites in believers a new hunger for God, a desire to pray, a thirst for Scripture, a call to mission and thus a release of spiritual gifts or charisms that change the course of their lives and even the Church:

Whether extraordinary or simple and humble, charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to her building up, to the good of men, and to the needs of the world. Charisms are to be accepted with gratitude by the person who receives them and by all members of the Church as well.Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 799-800

St. Augustine once said that “What the soul is to the human body, the Holy Spirit is to the Body of Christ, which is the Church.”[18] It is clear, then, what is bringing about the collapse of the Church in the West and other parts of the world: she has lost the breath of the Spirit in her lungs.

All of us need to place ourselves downwind from the breath of the Holy Spirit, the mysterious breath which even now cannot be completely defined. —POPE ST. PAUL VI, Announcement of the Holy Year 1973; Open the Windows, The Popes and Charismatic Renewal, Kilian McDonnell; p. 2

If Pope Benedict warned that “the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel”, [19] then the fuel is the Holy Spirit. Without Him, we are not a people on fire, but a Church about to expire. Our problems are not political, they are spiritual. The solutions do not lie in synods, but in upper rooms.

 

A NEW THING

The “Charismatic Renewal” is a movement in the Church, blessed by four popes, and acknowledged to be an instrument of a renewed understanding of the role of the Spirit in the universal Church.[20] However, it may be a mistake to try and revive antiquated models or force a program that has had its season. But what has not become outdated is God’s desire to continue to pour out the Holy Spirit, in His way, until the end of time.

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:19)

What is this “new thing” God is doing today? The Father has sent the Blessed Mother to gather disciples once again into the upper room of her Immaculate Heart. In this cenacle, she is preparing us for a new Pentecost like the world has never seen…[21]

The Lord Jesus had a really deep conversation with me. He asked me to urgently take the messages to the bishop. (It was March 27, 1963, and I did that.) He spoke to me at length about the time of grace and the Spirit of Love quite comparable to the first Pentecost, flooding the earth with its power. That will be the great miracle drawing the attention of all humanity. All that is the effusion of the effect of grace of the Blessed Virgin’s Flame of Love. The earth has been covered in darkness because of the lack of faith in the soul of humanity and therefore will experience a great jolt. Following that, people will believe. This jolt, by the power of faith, will create a new world. Through the Flame of Love of the Blessed Virgin, faith will take root in souls, and the face of the earth will be renewed, because “nothing like it has happened ever since the Word became Flesh.” The renewal of the earth, although flooded with sufferings, will come about by the power of intercession of the Blessed Virgin. —Jesus to Elizabeth Kindelmann, The Flame of Love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary: The Spiritual Diary (Kindle Edition, Loc. 2898-2899); approved in 2009 by Cardinal Péter Erdö Cardinal, Primate and Archbishop. Note: Pope Francis gave his Apostolic Blessing upon the Flame of Love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Movement on June 19th, 2013.

St. John Paul II explains this Marian role:

…in the redemptive economy of grace, brought about through the action of the Holy Spirit, there is a unique correspondence between the moment of the Incarnation of the Word and the moment of the birth of the Church. The person who links these two moments is Mary: Mary at Nazareth and Mary in the Upper Room at Jerusalem. In both cases her discreet yet essential presence indicates the path of “birth from the Holy Spirit.” Redemptoris Mater, n. 24

Through Our Lady, “spouse” of the Holy Spirit, God is opening up a new path for humanity, an “era of peace” on the other side of these present tribulations. The question isn’t whether or not God will do this, but which Catholics will answer the call to become a part of it.

Renew your wonders in our time, as though for a new Pentecost, and grant that the holy Church, preserving unanimous and continuous prayer, together with Mary the Mother of Jesus, and also under the guidance of St. Peter, may increase the reign of the divine Savior, the reign of truth and justice, the reign of love and peace…. —POPE ST. JOHN XXIII at the convocation of the Second Vatican Council, December 25th, 1961; Open the Windows, The Popes and Charismatic Renewal, Kilian McDonnell; p. 1

…let us implore from God the grace of a new Pentecost… May tongues of fire, combining burning love of God and neighbor with zeal for the spread of Christ’s Kingdom, descend on all present! —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Homily, New York City, April 19th, 2008

Be open to Christ, welcome the Spirit, so that a new Pentecost may take place in every community! A new humanity, a joyful one, will arise from your midst; you will experience again the saving power of the Lord. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, “Address to Bishops of Latin America,” L’Osservatore Romano (English language edition), October 21, 1992, p.10, sec.30.

 

RELATED READING

The Convergence and the Blessing

The Coming Effect of Grace

The Torrent of Grace

When the Spirit Comes

The Marian Dimension of the Storm

The Coming New and Divine Holiness

Rethinking the End Times

Charismatic? A seven-part series on the Renewal and the Spirit

Your financial support and prayers are why
you are reading this today.
Bless you and thank you. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s