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Holy Spirit: Make ‘missionary disciples’ of all of us

Life will be victorious

by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann

Blessed Elena Guerra, an Italian religious who lived from 1835-1914, devoted her life to the education of girls.

For that purpose, she founded the Oblates of the Holy Spirit. As the name of the order indicates, Blessed Elena also had a deep reverence for the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. In addition to her work in education, she also sought to promote devotion to the Holy Spirit.

Blessed Elena wrote 12 letters to Pope Leo XIII encouraging the Holy Father to renew devotion to the Holy Spirit throughout the Catholic Church. Partially in response to her prompting, Pope Leo promulgated an encyclical, “Divinium Illud Munus,” in 1897, asking Catholic bishops throughout the world to promote devotion to the Holy Spirit and specifically requesting the praying of a novena to the Holy Spirit at the beginning of the 20th century.

On Jan. 1, 1901, Pope Leo sang the “Veni Creator Spiritus” (“Come Holy Spirit”) in front of the famous Holy Spirit window in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome asking for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the church. At this same time in Topeka, at Bethel College and Bible School, a group of students had been praying to receive the Holy Spirit in a manner similar to that described in the Acts of the Apostles.

On the very same day that Pope Leo in Rome was praying for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the church, one of the Bethel College students, Agnes Ozman, had a powerful experience of the Holy Spirit’s presence that, in part, manifested itself by her praying in tongues.

Over the next few days, several other students had similar experiences. These events at “Stone’s Folly” in Topeka are considered by many as the beginning of the Protestant Pentecostal and charismatic movement.

This past October in Kansas City, Missouri, there was an international gathering of Catholic and Protestant leaders of the charismatic renewal. The event was called Kairos 2017 and it was held here to commemorate the 40th anniversary of a major gathering of Catholic and Protestant charismatics in Kansas City.

Dr. Mary Healy, a professor in sacred Scripture at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in the Archdiocese of Detroit, was one of the participants at the Kairos event.

In her presentation, Healy noted with interest that some have postulated the first observable answer to Pope Leo’s prayer in Rome occurred in Topeka at a Protestant Bible college.

In speculating why God might have chosen to respond to Pope Leo’s prayer in this way, Healy recalled that the Holy Father had received a very tepid response from Catholic bishops around the world regarding his request for a vigorous promotion of devotion to Holy Spirit.

She hypothesized that the Catholic Church at that time was not prepared to welcome a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Many date the beginning of the Catholic charismatic renewal to a 1967 retreat at Duchesne University in Pittsburgh.

While it is fascinating to reflect on the local connections to the beginning and the development of the charismatic renewal in the Christian world, I want us to do more in the archdiocese than just recall this history. I am asking our priests, deacons, religious and laity during 2018 to pray for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Catholic community in northeast Kansas.

Specifically, I am asking everyone to pray for the Holy Spirit to guide our efforts to create within the archdiocese and all of our parishes and ministries a culture of evangelization. At the same time, I ask that we beg the Holy Spirit to help each of us become, what Pope Francis terms, “missionary disciples”!

A culture of evangelization means for our parishes, institutions and ministries to become less focused on merely maintaining the status quo and more and more dedicated to sharing the truth, beauty and goodness of our Catholic faith with others.

With a large number of nonpracticing Catholics and an even larger number of individuals who claim no religious affiliation, those of us blessed with the joy that only Jesus and life in his church can bring to our hearts have an obligation to share the gift of our faith with others.

In preparation for the solemnity of Pentecost on May 20, I will be encouraging individuals and parishes to pray a Holy Spirit novena, begging the Holy Spirit to rekindle the fire of his love here in northeast Kansas.

For now, I ask each member of the archdiocese during the coming year to consider praying daily, or as frequently as possible, one of the prayers to the Holy Spirit found below. I ask that you pray for the Holy Spirit to help us in our efforts to build a culture of evangelization and to help each of us become more and more missionary disciples.

Finally, the former Bethel College site in Topeka is today Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish campus.

The foundation to Most Pure Heart of Mary rectory is all that remains of the Bethel College buildings. After many years of planning, Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish is preparing to build a new rectory. Father Greg Hammes, the pastor, wants to construct a eucharistic adoration chapel on the site of the current rectory.

If this actually happens, I think it will please both the Holy Spirit and Pope Leo XIII.

Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created and you shall renew the face of the earth. O God, who has taught the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that by the gift of the same Spirit we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in his consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer to the Holy Spirit
by Cardinal Mercier
O Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore you. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, console me. Tell me what I should do; give me your orders. I promise to submit myself to all that you desire of me and to accept all that you permit to happen to me. Let me only know your will. Amen.

A Prayer to the Holy Spirit
by St. Augustine of Hippo
Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen

About the author

Archbishop Joseph Naumann

Joseph F. Naumann is the archbishop for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

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  • the charismatic movement is definitely in error and not Biblical, as is the Roman Catholic Church. The Biblical emphasis on Holiness is missing from both, following the new birth. It is useless here to say more, for when the presupposition concerning history and theology is present, no further light is possible. May God richly bless you.

  • A renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit is certainly to be commended, as is evangelization.

    It is concerning, though, that oftentimes evangelization is identified or equated with the charismatic movement alone. There are many other movements in the Church which, together, represent the call for a new evangelization. Moreover, Dr. Healy’s claim that the event in Topeka, KS was an answer to Leo XIII’s prayer for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit is extremely dubious and disturbing. Charles Parham, the leader of the Topeka movement, considered himself to be a mouthpiece of the Holy Spirit. His followers were responsible for at least one exorcism-murder:

    In general, though there are good aspects to the charismatic movement, it tends to be dangerously undiscerning, elitist, and excessively ecumenical. Many Catholic charismatics embrace the “Toronto Blessing,” for example, which is repudiated as heresy even by many Protestants. The movement is also childish, as it encourages attachment to “tongues,” which practice itself has a very complex, equivocal, and unclear history showing much scholarly disagreement:

    The charismatics are not “experts” on evangelization, although this is how they promote themselves. During the past two decades, to avoid controversies over charismatic covenant communities (etc.) , they have refashioned themselves and gone under the banner of “evangelization.” But it is simply charismatic excess, renamed.

    Many Catholic scholars have had strong reservations about the charismatic movement, including Fr. John Hardon. I do not believe this movement is the answer, and certainly not the only or best answer, to vacant pews and religious indifference. Bring in the lives of the saints; traditional teachings on interiority; explanations of the Mass, etc. Practice the liturgy faithfully and reverently. Don’t buy into programs like “Alpha,” but programs that respect the intellectual nature of the human person and expose him to true Catholic spirituality.

  • A wonderful article and inspiring call to pray for a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Would that Bishops of the Orthodox Church throughout the world would realize the need for a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Orthodox believers and call for prayer among the clergy & laity for just such an outpouring and spiritual renewal!