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A VISION FOR
The vision for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal has always been to bring renewal to the Church. It should be noted that this is only one way that the Church is being renewed. Those people who are involved in Charismatic Prayer Groups must seek the Lord of how they can participate on local levels, keeping in mind the overall vision of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. In a recent issue, (see NL 8707) I mentioned that the single most important thing that is needed for a prayer groups survival is VISION! Without a clear vision and direction, the prayer group will suffer fatal consequences. The group will become weak and become less attendance; eventually it will die and cease to exist.
Anyone can open the church doors, plug in the coffee pot, and start a prayer meeting. But, to keep it going week after week, month after month, year after year . . . takes vision. The Scriptures says, "Without a vision, a people perish." (Proverbs 29:18) Each of us, in our prayer groups, need a vision and purpose of why they exist, and where they belong in God's plan for the renewal of the whole Church. If there is no vision for yourself or what your prayer group is, or should be, then they should go ask someone who has a vision. Find someone who can help you see what God is doing with the Charismatic Renewal, and how your group fits into the plan.
Before we can have God's vision for our prayer group, we must first renew our commitment to following Jesus as Lord and Savior! Above everything else, the prayer group, and especially the leaders, must re-commit their lives to Jesus. And when He speaks, we must be willing to move with Him. One of the biggest mistakes we can make in the Charismatic Renewal today is to forget that our purpose is to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior. We can quickly develop a sense of independence within "our group", and not support or associate with other groups. When our spiritual eyes are fixed on Jesus and committed to following His move, then, and only then, can we move on to the next step of seeking God's vision!
CATCH THE VISION !
In order to follow God, we must have a clear vision of where we are, and where we are going, and what is God calling us to? Some groups have little or no vision as to why the group exists, or what God wants them to do. They seem very comfortable, and it doesn't matter, one way or another, if there is any purpose or goal for the group. I believe God has a plan for us and our prayer groups existence. We need to see how we fit into God's plan. It is essential that every group has a vision of where they're going, and what God wants them to accomplish as a group. Is your group called to bring renewal to your parish church, or to other churches as well? Is it called to be Catholic, Ecumenical, or both? Is it called to a special outreach ministry? Is it called to intercessory prayer life, or a full charismatic relationship, including ALL the gifts of the Holy Spirit; wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues, interpretation? What specifically is God's vision for your group? Do you have a clear understanding what it is with definite goals and actions?
Several years ago, I read an article
in New Covenant, by Father Mike Scanlon. He illustrated the
problems of groups without a vision, with a scene from "Alice In
In 1976, several people, along with myself, began meeting together each week, in our homes to read, share and discuss the Bible. We were all involved in the Charismatic Renewal. After 10 weeks of sharing the Book of Acts, there was a strong sense that we needed to be more than what we were; a small group of people sharing the Bible with one another. It was now clear to us that God wanted more from us. We began praying to seek God's direction. The only thing we knew for sure was that we should continue to meet weekly. We stopped the Bible discussion and sharing at Chapter 10 of Acts, and continued faithfully for the next few months seeking God's vision and plan for us. thus, this was the beginning of our regular weekly prayer meetings. it was during this time that God also gave us an identity . . . The People Of Joy Prayer Community! Shortly afterwards, we were encouraged to move out of our homes into a public building where others can come freely to seek the Lord. God opened doors as we continued to meet in a nearby Episcopal Church, for the next few years. In 1979, we were encouraged in prayer that we would be better able to minister more directly to Catholics if we were meeting in a Catholic Church. This did not relieve us from our responsibilities of being ecumenical, it just broadened our responsibilities as Christians to have a vision to reach out to ALL people, and share with them that Jesus Christ is Lord! We were strongly committed to identify the prayer group as "A Catholic-Ecumenical Christian Community." We sort the advise of a Catholic pries and a Lutheran ministers to confirm our identity and vision. We were then encouraged to write it down and document it.
I believe that the greatest vision God has given the Charismatic Renewal is that someday it will become part of the normal life of the Church. I also believe that deep down in the hearts of many people, there is a real love of the Lord. It is in our anxiousness to actively bring that Love of God to our brothers and sisters, that we stumble, fall and sometimes even fail. I know I do. Sometimes, in our excitement, and the way we express ourselves, we will be misunderstood by some. It will seem to some to be elitist and judgmental to others. when this happens, we can become weak and do nothing more. But, St. Paul says "that in our weakness, we are made strong!" There are as many differences as there are people, and not everyone will agree with you. That's OK, because not everyone agreed with Jesus either. Fr. Scanlon suggests "that we make a commitment to one another, to speak well of one another, to pray for one another, to work together. It's especially important that we put our time and financial resources into the work God is doing, and not let our differences on other issues prevent us from supporting what God is doing in our midst."