A People Set Apart


Pat Hogan

Pat Hogan is a member of the Remnant of God prayer group in Manistique, MI.

We perceive countless reasons in today’s world to hang our heads and wonder why God does not make Himself known to the lost and wandering masses in our society. We feel powerless over prevailing attitudes and behaviors. We wonder, “Lord, where are you?” In our hearts we cry, “Come Lord Jesus, come.” Humankind seems out of control and sinking fast. It would seem all we can do is pray and petition the Lord for change. Unless you’re Charismatic, believe in the Gifts of the Spirit and let the Spirit work through you.

Looking about our charismatic prayer meetings and gatherings, we notice a great number of gray and graying heads in the crowd. We feel the need for “new life” in our walks and in the renewal. We feel like road weary warriors returning from an insurmountable battle. We need some freshness, an enhanced energy. We muse that perhaps the Renewal needs revival. What’s that saying? ”If God feels far away, who moved?” We know that the Holy Spirit Himself started this Charismatic Renewal. Also we are certain God has a plan for that renewal. He made sure that each and every one of us was part of that plan. Hand picked. Chosen. Has He changed His mind? No! Because our numbers are slipping should we give up hope? No! What’s happening then? We speculate. . .

Focus on the prophets of the past century, our Popes. Their papacies have served as signposts through the years of the great work God has planned. Emphasis on the Holy Spirit in the journey of the modern day Church is prevalent. On January 25, 1959--Pope John XXIII makes known his intention to hold Vatican II and announced the dawning of the age of the Holy Spirit! The dawning. The beginning. God’s time! Did this divine revelation die with Good Pope John? No! The Spirit worked on, the vision passed on (transition). Pope Paul VI understood the crux of this work when he said, “the Church and the world need more than ever that the miracle of Pentecost should continue in history.” That was in 1975. The Spirit worked on, the vision passed, the people listened. Our beloved John Paul II has appealed for us to embrace this “New Springtime” of our Church. As part of the preparation for the Great Jubilee Year 2000, the Pope had asked the Church to focus on the role and charisms of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit worked, the vision unfolded, the people responded. The Holy Spirit has touched 125 million people world over through the Charismatic Renewal.

The Renewal has been Gods instrument in sending forth His Spirit and enlivening His people to awaken a sleeping giant — His Church. We must not fall to sleep ourselves. It is such a wonder to uncap all the graces and living water that flows inside each of us from our sacraments. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit gives us an awareness of God that we’ve never known before. We learn to know and love a one on one God, a personal God. So many times through the years we’ve been anointed and commissioned. We’ve heard prophecy after prophecy (God is patient) urging us to believe and go forth. We’ve been equipped. The gifts are our weapons, the fruits our strength.

So then, why do we seem to ebb? It appears to me that all things in the natural world are cyclical. Animal numbers go up and down. Tides move in and out. Could it be just the nature of things? A progression of sorts? We are in the natural world, but we are also in the Spirit. “The Spirit Himself give witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rm. 8:16).

We know from biblical history that there were many times that God’s chosen people were put to the test. All the Lord asked of them was that they would remain faithful to Him in all things at all times. From that same history He has proven what He can accomplish with a faithful remnant. Are we being tested? Will the faithful remnant be proven? Could it be that this is what He is asking of us; to remain faithful in this low tide.

Although we may be full of activity in other areas of the Church, we are still called to that spiritual vocation that was given us by our Baptism and Confirmation with the laying on of hands. We must believe in and employ the gifts given to us. Now more than ever we must incorporate them into our lives everyday. We need to depend on them more and ourselves less. Give ourselves over freely to the movement of the Spirit and the will of God. As St. Paul says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” As Charismatics we must guard our faith in Christ witness to the reality of the Renewal, and be faithful members of the Church. As Catholics, we must do our part in the Spirit to “build up the Body of Christ” and remain the in the “pillar bulwark of truth”, the Church (1 Tim 3:15)
We have to remember and write it on our hearts that “not as man sees does God see” and that up to now we don’t have the whole picture.

God has not changed his mind nor abandoned the plan. He continues to renew His Church and will continue for as long as the Holy Spirit blows over the face of the earth. The gifts are still being poured out. The living rivers are flowing free and fast. We must remain willing to be useful instruments in the Hand of God to bring on that new Springtime, a new Pentecost — as well as knowing that He is with us always as He fills the hearts of His people.

"Renew your wonders in our midst as in a New Pentecost!" Pope John XXIII
Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
shed a ray of light divine!
Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine!
You, of comforters the best:
You, the soul's most welcome guest:
Sweet refreshment here below;
In our labor, rest most sweet:
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.
O most blessed Light divine,
shine within these hearts of thine,
and our inmost being fill!
Where you are not, man has naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
nothing free from taint of ill,
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
wash the stains of guilt away:
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
melt the frozen, warm the chill;
guide the steps that go astray.
On the faithful,
who adore and confess you evermore
in your sev'nfold gift descend;
Give them virtue's sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end.
Amen. Alleluia

From the Diocese of Marquette Michigan, U.P. Catholic Charismatic Newsletter (December, 2003)