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THE VISION 

The Catholic Evangelical Pentecostal Spirituality aims at the salvation of individuals through a mystical experience of Christ, discipleship of believers through absolute allegiance to the Holy Bible, confirmation of the Word of God through signs and wonders[1] and restoration of the world through intense evangelization. This will be achieved by the renewal of individuals and parishes through interior conversion, devotion to the Scriptures, formation in the habits of discipleship, intense Christian community, manifestation of the charismatic gifts and a commitment to evangelization.[2]

 

Catholic Evangelical Pentecostal Spirituality is Catholic, because it recognizes the authority of the Pope, Bishop of Rome, Supreme Pontiff and Vicar of Christ, and the teaching authority of the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church. It is Evangelical, because it emphasizes the conversion experience and salvation by faith alone in Jesus, believes that the Holy Bible is the Infallible Word of God and primary source of religious authority and that all Christians must evangelize. It is Pentecostal because it believes that the preaching of the Word of God will be confirmed by the signs and wonders and that all charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit are even now available to the believers.[3]  

 

The Eternal Search for the Eternal

Every human being is directly or indirectly searching for Eternity and God. As St. Augustine says, “You  made us for Yourself, and our heart is restless, until it rest in You”.[4] Or as Blaise Pascal says, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man that can’t be filled by anything except God the creator, made known through Jesus Christ his Son.”[5] This “evangelical awakening,”[6] is occurring in millions of Catholics and they find themselves searching for preaching founded on the belief that the Holy Bible is the Word of God, confirmation of the Word of God through signs and wonders, lively liturgies, lives transformed by the Gospel, warm fellowships and a caring Christian community. All over the world this has resulted in millions of Catholics leaving the Roman Catholic Church for the newer churches. As a consequence ex-Catholics are the second largest single spiritual group in USA.[7]

 

As ‘The Evangelical Catholic Vision’, says: “These millions of Catholics are ready for a deeper, more meaningful life in Christ, and many of them will seek out the fellowship and spiritual nourishment they desire in other ecclesial communities. In the past, we as a Church have often attempted to stem this evangelical exodus of Catholics by writing pamphlets warning against the dangers of fundamentalism. ……Merely issuing warnings has proven to be an inadequate pastoral response, as demonstrated by the millions who leave to find evangelical life year after year. A better response, rather, is to address the healthy evangelical longings that often attract persons to such groups in the first place by changing our perspectives and practices so that these millions of Catholics find the help they are seeking within the Church. To do so, we need only draw more deeply upon the rich evangelical tradition that has been at the heart of renewal throughout redemptive history.[8] 

 

Evangelical and Pentecostal Renewal throughout Redemptive History

People come to an evangelical and pentecostal experience through prophetic voices and movements that call to repentance and spiritual renewal and manifest charismatic gifts. If we study pattern of renewal, we note that renewal is precipitated by a decline in fervor and faithfulness among the people of God, intense spiritual, intellectual, emotional, physical, financial or social want and when major evangelization efforts are needed. Then, prophetic voices, like John the Baptist, St. Patrick, St. Francis of Assisi or St. Francis Xavier arise, prompted to proclaim the message of repentance and renewed faithfulness to God or to take the message to the unreached. When the people respond to the message — generally in the midst of a hostile reaction to the Word of God — a community or movement arises or Church is planted.

 

Characteristics shown by these movements include:-

Emphasis on interior conversion,

Fidelity to the Word of God,

Confirmation of the Word of God through signs and wonders,

Discipleship, with commitment to holiness and personal prayer,

Intense Christian community,

Dedication to evangelization. [9]

 

Examples of Evangelical Renewal   

“Movements that particularly illustrate this evangelical renewal go back to what might be considered a ‘prototypical’ movement, with the rediscovery of the Law of the Lord and the subsequent revival of religion under King Josiah (2 Kings 22ff).  Other examples include the prophetic voices of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, the ministry of asceticism and repentance of John the Baptist, the religious and missionary renewal carried out under St. Benedict’s army of monks, the rediscovery of the simple yet radical Gospel of Christ under the Novus Evangelista St. Francis of Assisi, and the preaching ministry of the Vir Evangelicus St. Dominic. There are also the varied surges of religious renewal in the high middle ages that gave birth to evangelical movements such as Peter Waldo and the Waldensians, the Modern Devotion, with Geert Groote’s Brethren of the Common Life being the most well known of them, John Wesley and the Methodists, the Great Awakenings in Britain and America, the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements of the twentieth century, and contemporary trans-denominational evangelical movements including those that have flourished under the particularly evangelical pontificates of Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, and  John Paul II.”[10]

 

Also to be mentioned are the missionary initiative of St. Patrick to British Islands and Ireland and of St. Francis Xavier to Asia, both of which were aided and fuelled by miraculous manifestations of the Charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit. This pattern is seen these days in the explosive growth of the charismatic and pentecostal churches. 

 

Renewal and Reunion

One of the historical phenomena seen in the Church has been separation; development of alternate spirituality and theology by the separated group and reunion even while the group maintains the alternate spirituality and theology.  These groups are commonly referred to as different rites. They include the Mozarabic,  Ambrosian,  Bragan Rites in the Western Catholic Church. One of the compromises has been the use of the Missal of 1962 (Tridentine Mass) which predate Vatican II, for those who wished to use that liturgy.  A classical example of reunion in the Western Church is the “Anglican Use” granted since the 1980s by the Holy See to some former Anglican and Episcopal clergy, who were reunited with the Catholic Church along with their parishes.  They have been allowed to celebrate the sacramental rites according to Anglican forms, doctrinally corrected.

 

Practically all the Eastern Rites Churches have been formed as a result of reunion. They include the Maronite (with 3 million believers), Syriac (110,000 believers) and Syro-Malankarese  (350,000) of the Antiochian Western Syriac tradition, the Chaldean (310,000) and  Syro-Malabarese (3 million) of the Antiochian Eastern Syriac tradition, and the Armenian (350,000), Albanian (1,400), Belarussian, Bulgarian (20,000), Czech, Krizevci (50,000), Greek (2,500), Hungarian (300,000), Melkite (1 million), Romanian (1 million), Romanian, Russian, Ruthenian, Slovak (225,000) and Ukrainian(5.5 million) of the Byzantine tradition. The Italo-Albanian Rite, with 60,000 believers,who never separated from Rome  also belong to this tradition.  Coptic (200,000 believers) and the Ethiopian/Abyssinian  (200,000) are two Alexandrian tradition rites that were also reunited with the Catholic Church.

 

These developments wrought by the Holy Spirit reveals a path of separation, development of alternate spirituality and reunion with the maintenance of alternate spirituality. This enriches the Church and makes the Church truly Catholic. Perhaps the Holy Spirit is pointing to such a route of reunion with at least some of the evangelical and pentecostal churches and groups, wherein they could maintain their spirituality.

 

The Need for Evangelical Renewal Today

“The pattern of redemptive history continues today as the circumstances of our contemporary world draw us once more toward evangelical renewal.  As prophets of this renewal, participants at the Second Vatican Council were well aware of the plight of modern people and perceived the ‘spiritual agitation’ of our age. Even as human power over the physical world expands, says Paul VI, we are still uncertain of ourselves.  Addressing this uncertainty, the document continues:-

 

‘Influenced by such a variety of complexities, many of our contemporaries are kept from accurately identifying permanent values and adjusting them properly to fresh discoveries. As a result, buffeted between hope and anxiety and pressing one another with questions about the present course of events, they are burdened down with uneasiness. This same course of events leads men to look for answers; indeed, it forces them to do so’. (‘Gaudium et Spes’ sec. 4)

 

Observing the realities identified in the great Council of our time and inspired by the writings and concerns of his predecessors John XXIII and Paul VI, John Paul II has particularly sought to encourage evangelical renewal within the Church. He has written and spoken extensively about this renewal calling it the ‘new evangelization.

 

‘No demand on our ministry is more urgent than the "new evangelization" needed to satisfy the spiritual hunger of our times. The spirit of the new evangelization should inspire every aspect of your teaching, instruction and catechesis. The parish will necessarily be the center of the new evangelization, and thus the parish must be renewed in all its dimensions (New Evangelization paragraph 4)’"[11]

 

The Need for United Evangelical Initiative

As a result of these initiatives after Second Vatican Council, especially since 1972, there was a major move of the Holy Spirit in the Catholic Church when many Catholics came into a deeper, or  first-time, personal relationship with Jesus as Lord and Savior and thus had a mystical experience of Christ (described as the “born-again” experience by Protestants). Many of these Catholics were also baptized in the Holy Spirit. Within a short period there were vital charismatic prayer meetings in many places. A feature of this revival in many parts of the world was its trans-denominational nature as very often God used Catholic Christians to bless Protestant and vice-versa.

 

One of the phenomena associated with these renewal movements has been the renewal of the sacraments by recommitment by those who come to a full understanding of their faith. This had been occurring for sometime in respect of the sacrament of matrimony in the Marriage Encounter Movement. Every often this is done at the Church at Cana where Jesus blessed the wedding feast by turning water into wine. Recently many who come to a mystical experience of Christ have been renewing their baptism by taking a full immersion baptism following the example of Jesus under the hands of John the Baptist at Jordan River. Some of them have done this at Jordan River itself. Unfortunately, some of these extra zealous believers have been forced to leave the Catholic Church or some others have left on their own. In both cases there is deficient management of the situation.   

 

In spite of the zealousness in many believers, the revival has dried up in most parts of the world or has lost its vigor as the movement was deliberately made to lose its trans-denominational vision and trans-denominational nature and guided back into traditional Catholic devotions.

 

As Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap says: “The second danger is devotionalism. Here too, we need to remember how it all began. The Charismatic Renewal was born with a powerful drive to return to the essentials of Christian life: the Holy Spirit, the Lordship of Christ, the Word of God, the Sacraments, the charisms, prayer, and evangelization. This is the secret of its explosive power…… There has been a return to an excessive insistence on what is optional. The Charismatic Renewal itself has become sucked into this whirlpool; to such an extent that in some places it has become identified merely by association with certain devotions, apparitions, individuals and particular messages. ….. …..We need to become holy and to spread the Gospel. Even in the matter of devotion to Mary, if we were to take seriously and deepen our appreciation of what Scripture and the liturgical and dogmatic tradition of the Church have to offer, we would be able to offer her all the honor we desire, without feeling any need to scurry about after the latest message or apparition. In this way, we would render our devotion to Mary more acceptable to other Christians, and we would be hastening the day when, instead of being an object of division, she would become a positive factor in the unity of Christians…

 

Our task as spiritual guides is to help our brothers and sisters to be open to the great mysteries of the faith and never to shut themselves up in any short-lived devotionalism, which can never serve to re-evangelize the world. …..We must not confuse what is demanded of everyone with things that are to be left to individual choice.[12]

 

One of the attempts to regain the lost vision and reinvigorate the revival, especially in Republic of Ireland, has been the Evangelical Catholic Initiative, which aims at building bridges between Evangelicals in the Protestant and Pentecostal Churches and evangelical Catholics. This was motivated by the fact that what unites Christians is far greater than what divides. Indeed, what divides Christians is often not doctrine, so much as history, culture, language and politics. One of aims was to foster genuine evangelism, while avoiding proselytism. It is only as Evangelical Christians within the Protestant and Pentecostal Churches find their brothers and sisters in Christ in the Catholic Church and vice-versa, that a real spiritual revival will sweep the world.

 

The Need for Biblical Catholicism

Only Biblical Catholicism can give the answers that humanity is searching for, satiate humanity’s spiritual hunger and meet the needs of millions of Catholics seeking a deeper and more meaningful life in Christ,  prepare the ground for reunion with at least some of the evangelical and pentecostal churches with the Catholic Church and empower the Catholic Church to be the vehicle and vanguard of the ultimate revival that will conquer the world with love of Christ before His Coming.

 

To begin with, an understanding of Biblical Catholicism itself becomes necessary. Hence this Manifesto:-  

[1] See Acts 14:  3

[2] See also “The Evangelical Catholic Vision”, www.evangelicalcatholic.com

 

[3] “Statutes” of The Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) or Catholic Pentecostal Renewal” as it is also called, says:-

“The central goals of CCR, or Catholic Pentecostal Renewal as it is also called, include:

  1. To foster mature and continuous personal conversion to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

  2. To foster a decisive personal receptivity to the person, presence and the power of the Holy Spirit.

These two spiritual graces are often experienced together in what is called in different parts of the world a baptism in the Holy Spirit, or a release of the Holy Spirit, or a renewal of the Holy Spirit. They are most often understood as a personal acceptance of the graces of Christian initiation and as an empowering for personal Christian service in the Church and in the world.

  3 . To foster the reception and use of the spiritual gifts (charismata) not only in the CCR but also in the broader Church. These gifts, ordinary and extraordinary are abundantly found among laity, religious and clergy. Their proper understanding and use in harmony with other elements of the Church life is a source of strength for Christians on their journey towards holiness and in the carrying out of their mission.

  4. To foster the work of evangelization in the power of the Holy Spirit, including the evangelization of the unchurched, the re-evangelization of nominal Christians, the evangelization of culture and social structures. CCR especially promotes sharing in the Church's mission by proclaiming the Gospel in word and deed, and by bearing witness to Jesus Christ through personal testimony and through those works of faith and justice to which each one is called.

 5. To foster the ongoing growth in holiness through the proper integration of these charismatic emphases with the full life of the Church. This is accomplished through participation in a rich sacramental and liturgical life, and appreciation of the tradition of Catholic prayer and spirituality, and ongoing formation in Catholic doctrine. This is guided by the Church's Magisterium, and participation in the pastoral plan of the Church.”

Copyright © 1999 International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services - www.iccrs.org

 

[4]Augustine, Confessions, BOOK 1, 1.1.1, adopted from translation of E.B. Pusey, 

 

[5] Pascal Blaise, Pensees translated by W. F. Trotter,  1996-1997 International School of Theology,  Campus Crusade for  Christ,  http://www.leaderu.com/cyber/books/pensees/pensees.html    

[6] “The Evangelical Catholic Vision”, www.evangelicalcatholic.com  

[7] Wood, Steve, “How I Led Catholics Out of the Church”, St. Joseph's Covenant Newsletter 4 no. 2 (March/April 1998),www.catholiceducation.org 

 

[8] “The Evangelical Catholic Vision”, www.evangelicalcatholic.com    

[9] See also “The Evangelical Catholic Vision”, www.evangelicalcatholic.com  

[10] “The Evangelical Catholic Vision”, www.evangelicalcatholic.com  

[11] “The Evangelical Catholic Vision”, www.evangelicalcatholic.com  

[12] Cantalamessa, Raniero, Rev. OFM Cap, “Remember  those Early Days”, Charisindia, October 2003

 

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