Fr. Ray Zeugner

This past winter started early and as the months dragged on into February and March almost a sense of discouragement set in (except for snowmobilers, skiers and winter sportsmen) as we look for the least signs of Spring. The feelings in the charismatic renewal and prayer groups can be the same.
The hopes of the late sixties when the renewal was new and full of enthusiasm to be fully accepted into the Church and renewed in a few years, has turned into a long waiting winter and in many cases a sense of discouragement can set in – the prayer groups are small, many of the same faces attending for years with hair graying or going bald, many groups have risen and fallen, some people have left the renewal for other ministries. The deep snows and bare trees of winter show no evidence of new life of springtime.

Yet, let us look back at last spring and summer, which was a time of growth and enjoying the warm summer breezes, beaches, boating and walks through the sweet smelling flowers and woods.
This is reminiscent of when I look back thirty years in the renewal. It was indeed exciting, challenging, new and fresh. When the Lord touched my life in a personal way it was like the clouds of winter opened up to the sunshine of summer. My priesthood, prayer life came alive like never before known in my life. I have seen the Lord work in power in changing my priorities from a priesthood set on accomplishments to a love of the Lord, desire for longer prayer time and a greater desire to serve the Lord under the real discernable direction of the Spirit. It was and still is an ever-growing excitement of the numerous surprises of the Lord. This did not come all at once, but gradually, as I was called to surrender more and more to the action of the Spirit.

This past February I was to give one of the talks at the charismatic retreat at Marygrove. I prepared for months by prayer. Yet going on that retreat the Lord gave me only one word, "repentance." When I got up to speak a little nervously and yet trusting, the Lord brought to mind for the next forty minutes all he wanted to say about repentance. As I listened to myself it was joyfully exhilarating as I watched the power of God touch people's hearts. One of the culminating points of the retreat was the straight three hours of confessions, which were filled with the power of God in the use of the charisms of healing, forgiving and advising. It was extremely exhausting and yet at the same time fulfilling watching the Lord work. This is just one instance of the Lord's power working for the last thirty years.
I am sure that all who have been touched by the Lord in the renewal through the life of the Spirit seminars have many marvelous stories to share of God's power. Even some who are not directly involved in the renewal anymore have expressed a longing to group together again or grow spiritually. All of them I am sure would say their lives have changed through the renewal.

Since the sixties with no human founder, the Lord has spread the charismatic renewal throughout the world into millions of people's lives. They are experiencing a renewed insight and power of their Baptism and Confirmation initiation.

The renewal has touched every diocese and Rome itself with the International Charismatic Renewal Services under the umbrella of the Vatican and Holy Father. Over the years I have witnessed people enter into parish ministries after being touched by the Lord giving them courage and love they never had before to serve and step out in trust. I have seen vocations to the priesthood, deaconate and religious life come alive after going through the life of the spirit seminars. I have talked with ordained priests and bishops who have come more alive with a greater love and power in their ministry. I have seen engaged couples touched by the Lord entering into marriage with determination to have the Lord as the center of their family life.

All this fulfills the teaching of the church in the Vatican II document on the Church, chapter 12: "It is not only through the sacraments of the Church that the Holy Spirit makes holy the people. .. He also distributes his special graces among the faithful of every rank. Whether these charisms be very remarkable or more simple and diffused they are to be received with thanksgiving…"

Throughout this newsletter you will see some of the extraordinary and some of the ordinary workings of the Spirit touching lives and renewing his Church. The Lord is not done with the renewal and will continue to work in the power of the Holy Spirit to renew the Church, the people of God.

Under the snow and barren trees of winter is the anticipation and hope of a new springtime. It is showing its face. Can you see it?

From the Diocese of Marquette Michigan, U.P. Catholic Charismatic Newsletter (Spring 2001)