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(Part 83)


June 2, 2014
Today’s reading: Acts 19:1-8

“And when Paul laid his hands on them, the holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.” (v.6). Later Paul would list tongues and prophecy as two of the nine spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12:10-11). Then he would also tell the Corinthians, “Now I should like all of you to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy.” (1 Cor 14:5a).

Unfortunately, much of the experience accompanying the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost on the early Church has been lost today, or at least neglected or ignored. The early Church was vibrant and converted the Roman Empire to the faith in just a few centuries. Today the Church is rapidly losing members, is wracked by dissent with the enemy within, and is not vigorously engaged in missionary activity. That is why there is the call to the New Evangelization.

But the New Evangelization cannot be a matter of just doing the very same things, and expecting a different result (that is the definition of “insanity”). While the many programs, ministries, groups and movements in the Church can and should continue, there has to be something more, something different, something “new.”

Now what is new is actually what is old. What needs to happen with the New Evangelization is a return to the old methodology of the Holy Spirit from the day of Pentecost and onward. Let us look at how things were, how they are now, and how they ought to return to how they were.

Infilling of the Holy Spirit
At sacramental Baptism
and Confirmation
Adult experience of
baptism in the Spirit
Spiritual Gifts
7 gifts
(see Isaiah 11:2-3a)
9 gifts
(see 1 Cor 12:8-10)
Memorized; structured
Spontaneous; from the heart
Prayers with singing
Prayers with singing, praising, clapping, shouting, dancing
Learning about the faith


Infilling of the Holy Spirit
At sacramental Baptism
and Confirmation
Adult experience of
baptism in the Spirit
Meeting Christ
Knowing about Jesus
Having a personal encounter
and relationship with Jesus
Living Christ
Avoid sin and do good
Be holy, be a true disciple,
strive for Christian perfection
Sharing Christ
Let the priest, nun and catechist do it
All should evangelize,
especially the laity
Sharing the faith
With timidity and reluctance
With boldness and power

Now this is not to discard what we have at present (do discard the negatives). However, it is to bring back as well what we had in the past, in order to serve the future.

The Holy Spirit descended on the disciples at Pentecost as noise like a strong driving wind and as tongues of fire (Acts 2:2-3). The disciples were filled with the Spirit and began to worship in power and vibrancy, even making some people think they were drunk. Today worship lacks vibrancy, life and power. Catholics are soberly boring. When the early Church “prayed, the place where they were gathered shook” (Acts 4:31a)!

Catholics, especially the youth, are leaving the Church in droves. Of those listed as Catholics, only 1% are true disciples, while 99% are the lost sheep. There seems to still be much activity, but it is the activity of chickens with their heads chopped off that still run round and round in circles. But in due time, they drop dead. For those who are still active in some way in their faith, they have become comfortable and complacent. They are not engaged in the authentic life and mission of the Church. The young, who are idealistic, are not engaged to aspire for the highest and noblest ideals of purity, witness, mission and self-sacrifice.

And so the Church is called to the New Evangelization. To properly respond, we must look to Pentecost and the life of the early Church as recorded in the book of Acts. There we will see the need for the baptism in the Holy Spirit, as an adult experience apart from sacramental Baptism and Confirmation. In the Bible we will see the need for the spiritual gifts that are intended to build up the body for the work of evangelization. These are the 9 gifts of 1 Corinthian 12 (there are other lists as well) and not the 7 traditional gifts (which are still important but are for personal sanctification).

The New Evangelization is a call to the whole Church. This means laity and clergy. Yes, the clergy are themselves in need of renewal. The clergy abuse scandal is, well, scandalous. The number of dissident clerics is alarming. The bishops and priests who do not speak out openly and boldly against the culture of death are betraying the faith. The nuns who are liberal and dissident, who have shed their habits (and abandoned their good habits) are leading many astray. Being our pastors, clerics need to show the way. They too need to experience a renewed infilling of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, through the work of the Holy Spirit as in the early Church, “even a large group of priests were becoming obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:7b).

May our whole Church respond to, and understand, the Spirit’s call to the New Evangelization.

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