One dynamic speaker after another reminded us of what it means to be a follower of Christ. Dr. Tom Curran provided a powerful and profound keynote address to get things started on Friday evening, and praise and worship filled the event for the rest of the weekend. We were reminded to live with the joy of the Lord, and Maria Vadia demonstrated clearly how it can be done. Wow! I don't believe I have ever witnessed such energy from one individual at any religious event I have ever attended. Bishop Sam Jacobs wrapped everything up by challenging us in his closing homily to praise God at all times--not just when we are at conferences.
Extravagant grace is something we have each received from God, and it was certainly beneficial to be reminded of this awesome gift from God. The power of the Holy Spirit is present in our lives at all times. How do we allow the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to take place in our day-to-day lives? It has to be more than just a one time event when we receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, or more than an annual event when we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost. It needs to be a way of life.
The Charismatic renewal impacted my life in a dramatic way many years ago when I was diagnosed with cancer for the second time in my life. The prayer group that I had been attending on a minimal level reached out and prayed for me in a way that I had never experienced. I was invited to let the glory of God shine through this difficult moment of my life by giving praise to God in all things. That was one of the most difficult invitations I have ever received. I did not want to praise God. I wanted to be angry with God.
Although I still have a long way to go in my faith journey, the Charismatic renewal has definitely helped me grow in my relationship with the Lord. This includes giving praise to God in all things, inviting the Holy Spirit to truly guide me and empower me to walk faithfully with Jesus on a day to day basis, and ultimately, to simply walk humbly with my God.
Observing others singing and praising God with arms outstretched, speaking in different tongues, dancing before the Lord, and freely demonstrating outward expressions of exuberant joy in the process is not what we typically experience in our Sunday gatherings. Although I have been to several of these major charismatic gatherings, I will admit that it still moves this particular introvert out of his comfort zone. However, that is a good thing. Each time I participate I come away with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment, and it enhances my Sunday experience when I return back to the parish.
If you have never attended a charismatic prayer group, participated in a "Life In The Spirit Seminar, or participated in a Cursillo experience, I invite you to seek one of these events out and give it a try. Let the Holy Spirit fill you with a "Fresh Fire and Extravagant Grace!"