Recently on the feast of the Transfiguration I attended a Catholic Charismatic Renewal, close by on the mainland from Whidbey Island. It was a day of many emotions for me. Most of those were joyous ones of being able to praise God and to listen to His word and the proclamation of it. But I have to confess that there were times when the bombarding volume of noise from speakers almost deafened me to what was being proclaimed.
I have always valued silence as golden. So I was puzzled in a day with so much emphasis on the working of the Holy Spirit, why was there not more time simply to be quiet and "know that I am God"? I know I would have liked to have spent more time in silence and calling upon the name of the Lord from within. My mind wandered to the little child Samuel puzzled by the voice he heard, and he being told go back by Eli and in the silence listen once again, and when you hear this voice say, "Speak Lord for your servant hears you."
Still in that somewhat noisy scene there were various words that penetrated my very being and spoke to me, of which the core was, that my purpose and that of every Christian was solely to be an evangelist. Unless we are proclaiming Jesus as the Saviour of all, we are not doing our jobs as Christians. It gave me much to think about. How well to do I proclaim the name of Jesus as being the name of salvation, and indeed more powerful than invoking any other name?
I felt very ashamed that I had become somewhat lethargic in my pastoral ministry. I had lost that very convicting voice that in the name of Jesus all kinds of things DO happen. Miracles still happen. Jesus is just as powerful to-day as he was when healing the sick and forgiving the sinful two thousand years ago. So the very next day after giving the Sacrament to an elderly couple to whom I have been ministering for some time, I noticed the husband scratching himself with an itch he has been troubled with for some time. I said, "I am going to pray over your arms in the name of Jesus, our Saviour for healing." I did and I know there will be healing, thanks be to God.
I have also been made aware, and rightfully so, that unless I am trying to tell others of what Jesus can do for them through the power of the Holy Spirit then I am not doing what I should do as a Christian. There are so many in our society who are caught up with so many servitudes of this world, that unless we Christians unleash this power then so many souls are going to be condemned to death without ever knowing the joy of a Saviour as Lancelot Andrewes often preached.
I do recognize that the New Testament tells us that the ultimate service of a Christian is to serve his/her fellow human beings. We serve others in many acts of charities and kindness but so often we don't speak up about the wonderful name of Jesus. I pondered why is this so? Is its because I don't meditate sufficiently on that name which is above every other name, or simply pray that holy name over and over again, softly and rhythmically enough?.
I have known that the Jesu prayer has been a very much loved prayer of adoration and devotion for centuries. Sometimes this is prayer is extended as in the Eastern Church to a whole sentence, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me." A monk of the Eastern Church in explaining how to pray it, advised that firstly "all tension and haste must be avoided". The goal aimed at "is not a constant liberal repetition but a kind of latent presence of the names of Jesus in our hearts". Secondly, begin to pronounce it with "loving adoration. ... Cling to it, and repeat it slowly, gently and quietly. As you do this, do not think that you are invoking the name; but think only of Jesus Himself."
So this is another challenge for me after this day to keep the blessed name of Jesus in my heart, so much so that it will be there even when I sleep.
The Renewal Day also made me go back to the writings of Richard Rolle, that inspiring mystic of the medieval church in England. I found passages to encourage me once again such as:
May [I] love your name Jesus, and meditate on it in my heart, so that I may never forget it wherever I am. I shall find great joy and strength in Your name, Lord Jesus, and because I love You so tenderly, and as such an intimate friend, You will fill me with grace on this earth.
TThis way, Rolle assures me I shall never forget it wherever I am. It will be my joy and comfort. But that joy and comfort I must share with others.
Bernard of Clairvaux was another source to inspire me to greater delights in my new found confidence.
Learn to love Him tenderly, to love Him wisely, to love Him with a mighty powerful love; tenderly, that you be not enticed away from Him; wisely, that you be not deceived and so drawn away from Him; and strongly, that you be not separated from Him by any force. Delight yourself in Christ who is wisdom beyond all else, in order that worldly glory or fleshly pleasure may not withdraw you from Him; and let Christ who is the Truth enlighten you, so that you may not be led away by the spirit of falsehood and error. Amen.
I have always attended Mass on daily basis, and whenever I cannot I always pray the Mass of the day and make a spiritual Communion. During the Mass for the Transfiguration that ended the day of renewal, through the celebrant I became much more aware of how much healing is conveyed, not just by receiving the Lord in the Sacrament but in the text as illustrated in the prayer before the doxology of the Lord's Prayer. However it is by receiving Jesus when I hold my outstretched hands that I am given the true medicine of life. I must learn to ponder more deeply on not only receiving the Lord for which I have always been so humbly thankful, but also to realise He is penetrating every bit of my body with His life, renewing me in a way nothing else can. Thank you Jesus for Your life and for revealing Your presence in greater depth.
After the Mass there was a healing service. It has been a long time since I have been to such a service, different in many ways from receiving the laying on of hands and anointing after Mass. Years ago when living in Australia I use to be a member of the Order of St. Luke and the Guild of St. Raphael, and so I prayed for all kinds of healings to take place, not just at Mass which has been my custom for many years now, but at regular times with other people. I have also practised the spontaneous prayer, yet, I am afraid not as much as I should be doing. Don't be afraid Our Lord has assured us. When you pray in My name I shall grant your request. I must cling to these words and remember that Jesus does not have any other hands in this world but mine and others to do His healing work. Our blessed Saviour reached out in His great love towards all and gave many a hunger to taste and see how gracious He is. Pray God, let me be a faithful disciple.