A Report on the Events at the Golden Jubilee of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal
– by Bernhard Stock
The 50th Anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal was celebrated in Rome at the Feast of Pentecost, 4th of June. The event attracted tens of thousands of members of the renewal, and many came early for days of prayer events, talks and seminars.
The Sword of the Spirit was well represented at the Jubilee, with members from more than 30 communities and all regions. On the evening of the 31st of May, some 200 people from Sword of the Spirit communities from various parts of the world gathered for an evening of prayer and fellowship.
The evening began with a delightful time of mingling with brothers and sisters from all over the world, greeting old friends and making new acquaintances. This was followed by an hour of worship and listening to the Lord. In spite of the travel weariness of many the prayer time was lively and fervent. Jean Barbara spoke to us, encouraging all to engage what we have been hearing from the Lord most strongly in the past few years – unity and mission.
During the prayer meeting there were several strong words of prophecy. Here are two of them:
“I’m coming like a dove but I’m coming like a lion as well. I’m coming to take my territory back – everything that was stolen by the enemy.” And I sensed that there was something eager in the Lord’s voice. It was like a roar. Territory in the life of our communities, as well our personal life – he wants to take back every piece of land that the enemy has taken over, and the loss of it has robbed us of our joy and peace, bringing depression, loss, sadness. God wants to restore. And this is the invitation: to cry out to him and not settle on this piece of land that is remaining but eagerly cry out to him for help and for restoration, for him to rule and to be enthroned. The Lion of Judah is eager and ready.
For some years I’ve had a growing sense of encouragement, comfort, hope and joy when I see what God is doing for and through young people in our midst. The Lord is being really faithful to his promises and is also answering our prayers in raising up a generation of believers who are deeply committed to proclaiming the kingdom of God. His spirit is being poured out powerfully on them. These verses come to mind: Acts 2:17-18: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions…” But I think God has an equally strong word for older and old people: ’…your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.”
The following day there was an informal meeting of some leaders of the three major networks of communities which have grown from the charismatic renewal: the Catholic Fraternity, the European Network of Communities (the ENC), an ecumenical network and the Sword of the Spirit.
I was privileged to attend this and was encouraged to hear the brothers from the other two networks expressing their gratitude for the input they had received from the Sword of the Spirit in their beginning years.
Leaders from these three networks had prepared together and then led a meeting for members of the communities which have grown from the charismatic renewal. It took place Thursday afternoon, June 1st, in the Lateran Basilica, the pope’s parish church. About 2,000 people attended.
During Friday and Saturday mornings, several meetings and workshops were offered. The highlight of the events that weekend was an open-air vigil in the Circus Maximus on Saturday evening, with around 30,000 people attending. It started at 1pm with praise and worship, exhortations and talks, with a general celebrative tone. Around 6pm Pope Francis joined the event and gave a strong and engaging address, especially emphasizing his desire for the charismatic renewal to return to its ecumenical roots.
Participating in the jubilee in Rome was encouraging and upbuilding – seeing how the work of the Holy Spirit has grown over fifty years, and especially for me as a member of a community, seeing how many blessings have sprung from the call God has given us to build charismatic and ecumenical community all over the world. May we all – including those who couldn’t be there – experience the grace of a renewal of our first love and commitment to follow the Lord.
Bernhard Stock is one of the founders and a former senior coordinator of the Bread of Life community in Munich, Germany. He is currently the Moderator of the Christ the King Association, the Catholic Association of the Sword of the Spirit. Photos by Maria Paula Arce, used with permission.