Virtual Catholic Charismatic Renewal Conference puts spotlight on God’s love
COVID-19 continues to make its presence felt, but so does the Holy Spirit. Those who attended the Diocese of Peoria’s 35th Catholic Charismatic Renewal Conference found that reason enough to celebrate and Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, encouraged them to do so.
“The Holy Spirit is essential to our life of faith in the Catholic Church. The Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, is the love that unites the Father to the Son. The Holy Spirit is the power in God’s word. The Holy Spirit is the power that makes our sacraments work,” Bishop Jenky said in welcoming participants to the virtual conference, made available through a series of videos on July 30.
“We need the Holy Spirit in the secular world in a time when people know so little about Christianity. So do what you do — praise God, witness the faith, and share that faith with everybody you meet.” — Bishop Jenky
We need the Holy Spirit in the secular world in a time when people know so little about Christianity,” Bishop Jenky said. “So do what you do — praise God, witness the faith and share that faith with everybody you meet.”
Offering tips and prayerful support were keynote speakers Jim and Jonna Schuster, graduates of the University of Illinois and founders of Catholic Revival Ministries in California. Between them they have a decade of experience in parish ministry and youth ministry, and Jonna served as a campus minister at Western Illinois University for two years.
The theme for the conference was “Bear Patiently in God’s Love,” and that love is something the world desperately needs after living through the pandemic for the better part of two years they said.
The title of their talk was “Being Carriers of Love.”
THE WAY OF LOVE
“I feel like more than ever now is the time for the church to emerge because the world needs what we carry. The world needs what you carry,” Jonna said. “The world needs Jesus and as members of the church we are carriers of Jesus. We have the presence of the living God dwelling inside of us.”
Just as the disciples did, we are called to carry that presence everywhere we go, she said, adding that this is so important because Jesus is the solution to every problem we will ever face.
That makes this a time of opportunity and not simply hardship, she told viewers. But she cautioned them not to come on too strong with arguments and apologetics as they attempt to bring restoration and healing to the world because people’s hearts are still raw from isolation, illness, and fear.
Her suggestion was to use the way of love.
“When we carry God’s presence, when we learn to release God’s presence into broken situations, what’s essentially happening is we are setting out to give people an encounter with love,” Jonna said. “Put simply, everyone we meet should walk away from us feeling loved.”
It’s God’s love and kindness that leads people to repentance, she explained.
If there is a situation that someone feels a longing to fix or restore, the best way is to pray that God will give us his view of that situation and teach us to see through the eyes of love.
Saying that this can be hard to do, Jonna asked viewers not to attempt it if they are not anchored in the Lord. Otherwise they will be giving from a place of emptiness, she said.
“For this reason, intimacy with the Lord is our greatest weapon,” Jonna said before turning the talk over to Jim. “It is of utmost importance. For us to be missionary minded we have to be rooted in intimacy with the Lord.”
A STABLE ANCHOR
Jim Schuster said many people go through a cycle of being filled by the Lord’s love and then pouring that out to others, only to be left empty again. He suggested the principle of overflow instead.
“It’s this idea that we can both pour ourselves out in love for others while remaining full ourselves,” he explained. “When we allow the love of God to fill us to overflowing, it can have a tremendous impact on the world around us.”
This requires learning to love by receiving God’s love for us, Jim said, telling them “If we aren’t experiencing the love that Jesus has for us, we have no hope of loving others well.”
“God’s love is always available to us. We can always go back and tap into that love and receive from his love,” he said. “His love is not contingent on my performance. It remains the stable anchor I can always return to.”
In praying, it is important to imagine the Lord is present to us and then receive his affections for us. “Allow the Lord to take you wherever he wants to go in prayer, but remain anchored in his affections the whole time,” Jim said.
He has found that the Lord often wants to talk about his hopes and dreams, because God loves the things that make our hearts come alive. Sometimes he will lead us to an area of pain or correction, but always with love.
“He can fill us to overflowing and we can extend his love and even his affections to those we meet during the day because we’re always tapped into that place of receiving his affections,” Jim said, before leading conference participants in a short time of prayer.
Dan Dúet of Two Twelve Ministries in San Antonio, Texas, returned to the conference for the sixth year to offer praise and worship music, as well as a talk: “It’s One or the Other: What Will I Take with Me into Battle?”
Reminding them of the Scripture passage on which the conference was based, Deuteronomy 31:6, he urged them to be “strong and steadfast” in the face of adversity, “for it is the Lord your God who marches with you. He will never fail or forsake you.”
It is not possible to live God’s will for us unless we are aligned with him and not the other way around, Dúet said.
“We do not create God in our image and likeness and yet that is a message that is permeating through our society,” he told conference participants.
He invited them to get to know the Lord in the Scriptures and sacraments, because “The word of God is truth.”
Deacon Kevin Zeeb of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Morton offered opening and closing remarks and prayers. Chairing the conference was Cady Nosbisch.