A Miracle Of Grace

Author: Michelle Moran

A Miracle Of Grace

Last September when Salvatore Martinez, the president of Renewal in the Spirit (RnS) in Italy, met with Pope Francis, he took the opportunity to invite him to their annual conference which they were holding in Rome for the first time.

The Pope agreed to come. His acceptance, which was the first time a pope has come to a charismatic event outside the Vatican, transformed what had been planned as a national conference into an international event.

Thus RnS invited ICCRS and the Catholic Fraternity, who are the two principle international bodies recognised by the Vatican to serve the worldwide CCR, to work with them on the event.

The venue for the gathering was to be the Olympic Stadium in Rome and with only 6 months or so to prepare we were faced with a big challenge.

We all worked together on the programme and while ICCRS looked after the registrations for international participants, RnS took care of all the practicalities, as they have a lot of experience in running big events in Italy.

Unfortunately due to the short timescale not as many participants as would have liked to have come, from the worldwide renewal were able to make it as it was a long way to come for just a couple of days.

Even so about 1,500 people from 61 countries round the world joined 50,000+ Italians on the day.

The evening before the gathering some of the leadership team, speakers and guests celebrated Mass together.

There was a prophetic word which said ‘none of you have the complete picture but all have pieces of the jigsaw.

When you each join your pieces together the full picture will emerge’.

This proved to be something that we lived beyond our imaginings on 1st and 2nd June.

Repent, believe, receive and move out in mission

The programme was built around the themes of “Repent, believe, receive and move out in mission.”

On the first day there were contributions from Cardinal Comastri who, referring to the Prodigal Son, spoke powerfully about the need for deeper conversion. Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa OFM Cap, the papal preacher, encouraged us that if “you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your hearts that God raised him from the dead you will be saved.” (Romans 10.9)

Patti Mansfield led a powerful time of intercession where she prayed specifically for priests, young people and families.

Obviously the highlight of the day was the arrival of Pope Francis. You cannot imagine how I felt as I walked across the field of the Olympic Stadium to welcome and escort the Holy Father into the arena where 45,000 charismatics were waiting to welcome him with the most exuberant joy imaginable!

Papal Invitation to Rome 2017

The Holy Father stayed with us for an hour and a half. At his request we sang at full volume his favourite charismatic song ‘Vive Jesus el Senor’.

There were short testimonies from a priest, a young person, a family, and a blind lady and each of these was followed by a moment of prayer.

Then the Holy Father delivered his address, which reflected his experience of CCR in Buenos Aires.

His final words were an invitation to all of us to come to St Peter’s Square at Pentecost 2017 to celebrate our Golden Jubilee with him. So you are all invited!

Finally there was a moment when the Holy Father knelt and we all prayed for him in tongues!

After the exuberance of June 1st our second day could have been an anti climax but this certainly wasn’t the case.

The crowds poured into the stadium and we had a full house, full of the Spirit!

Ralph Martin spoke about the need we all have for ‘power from on high’.

He senses that these extraordinary days of the Spirit that we are experiencing are to prepare us for all the challenges and the struggles that lie ahead as we move out in mission.

His talk was followed by an act of entrustment to Mary. This was followed by a prayer led by many historic leaders of CCR (including Charles Whitehead who was ICCRS president for many years) for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

What are you prepared to give up?

Spontaneously and symbolically we were led to join together and gather at the foot of the huge crucifix that was on the stage.

For me personally this felt like we were joining Mary at the foot of the cross, with the Lord saying to us “what are you prepared to give up and to suffer for me?”

As Jesus from the cross gave Mary as our mother to the Church, I sensed the Lord was giving us, as leaders, the responsibility to shepherd the Renewal in the shadow of the Cross.

The new President of the Catholic Fraternity, Gilberto Gomes Barbosa spoke very prophetically and in a moving way about the need for deeper unity and communion in CCR.

He ended his talk by inviting myself and Salvatore Martinez to stand with him.

Then we symbolically washed each others hands as a sign of our repentance for past hurts and divisions and a commitment to move forward together in a new harmony as Pope Francis had urged us during the previous evening.

My exhortation focused on the three ICCRS themes for the journey to the Jubilee; fire starters, fanning the flame and spreading the fire.

The event drew to a close with Salvatore addressing the CCR in all its various expressions.

He described our unity in diversity as being like a fruit salad not a fruit smoothie. Then he encouraged us all to move out in mission with Pope Francis.

There was a final moment of prayer led by Sr Briege McKenna and a closing ceremony of choreography and songs led by the young people.

As the crowds began to disperse there was a tangible sense of the joy of the Gospel in our midst and, for some of us, a profound sense that God is on the move in the power of the Spirit in ways beyond our wildest imaginings.

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