ROME, JUNE 10, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Profound friendship with Jesus Christ and a sure and strong sense of conversion are just two of the effects of the Holy Spirit, say charismatic renewal leaders.
The leaders of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal recently shared with ZENIT their personal experience of Pentecost. The ICCRS, headquartered in Vatican City, provides service, communication and linkage to this ecclesial reality whose spirituality is followed by more than 100 million Catholics.
At the vigil of Pentecost in St. Peter’s Basilica, on May 29, John Paul II sent special greetings to the Rinnovamento nello Spirito Santo, an Italian branch of the expression of Catholic Charismatic Renewal.
The Pope said that “thanks to the charismatic movement, many Christians, men and women, youths and adults, have rediscovered Pentecost as a living and present reality in their daily life.”
ICCRS leaders readily testify to the workings of the Spirit.
Allan Panozza, president of ICCRS, recalls Matthew 3:11 — “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” — and says, “I have always loved my Catholic faith.”
“But when I received a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit in 1978 in what is described within Catholic Charismatic Renewal as the ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit’ — I experienced that fire,” Panozza said. “And yet it was so simple: my prayer from deep within which said to God ‘I give you my life.'”
“I began to experience profound changes within myself,” recalled Panozza, an Australian. “I found myself being led to a deeper love and devotion to the Blessed Eucharist. I experienced a hunger to know more about the Word of God, and avidly read and studied the Scriptures.”
Panozza also found himself “letting go of long-held habits of impressing my own attitudes and beliefs onto other people. I began to see myself more in the light of being loved by Almighty God, and that love became mine to share.”
“But by far the greatest change in my life was to know the reality that Jesus is my friend,” the ICCRS president said. “Yes, he is my protector, he is my Savior; indeed, increasingly I know him to be the Lord of my life. But above all else — he is my friend! I know that he will never desert me nor disown me, and that my eternal destiny is securely held in his hands.”
“This was the sublime grace given me by the Holy Spirit, and that grace remains with me daily,” Panozza said. “Through the intercession of Mary I am empowered as she was to prayerfully surrender my life to God, and to be used in service by him in the ways he chooses.”
Oreste Pesare, director of the ICCRS office in the Vatican, recalled how “one day, 20 years ago, when nobody could help me, I cried to the Lord. I was then an agnostic. And he answered me; he liberated me ‘miraculously’ and instantly from what would have harmed my life forever.”
“I felt loved as I had never felt before, as I needed to feel for so many years … and I gave him my life,” Pesare said. “Since then, the Love of God, the Holy Spirit, has led my step by step on the paths of my history until he transformed an unbeliever — as I was — into a believer.”
“Today I can witness that the Holy Spirit is my point of reference, refuge in difficulties, fortitude in my commitment. He is alive, converses with me, counsels me, guides me. He is my God and I am immensely grateful to him,” Pesare said.
Nicholas Chia, representative of Asia in ICCRS, said that “in a world where money, power and sex are symbols of success, to live my Christian life is not easy.”
“God’s Holy Spirit is my lifeline to survive in this secular world, where there is no peace, no joy, no true happiness,” he said.
“He is my strength when I am weak, he is the treasure that I seek, he is my friend when I am lonely,” said Chia.
“Living one’s faith is not the fruit of one’s own efforts,” Oreste Pesare said, “but rather a grace that we receive through a continual outpouring of the Holy Spirit — when we pray, especially with our brothers and sisters; when we receive the sacraments. This is what happened in Jerusalem that day” of Pentecost.
The Spirit “is the love that every man and all of creation need to live,” Pesare continued. “To receive the Holy Spirit consciously, freely in one’s life, enables you to experience the passage from death to life. Anyone with a searching heart desires this passage and intuits its importance in one’s life.”
[Friday: The drive to evangelize]