His name is John, and he came calling out “re-Pentecost!”
And if you think that’s a silly pun, you’re half right. The pun on “repent” and “Pentecost” is deliberate, but there’s nothing silly about the message.
Repentance and a new Pentecost go together, John Connelly told Our Lady of Pentecost Summer Institute in Kelowna, and the Catholic Church has no hope without them.
That might sound scary, but Connelly said Catholics should take heart. Literally. A new heart is just as essential as repentance and a new Pentecost, and only God can provide it.
“Nothing can put the Catholic Church together again but God,” he said. “The scandals are going to continue until we admit that we can’t do the job without a new Pentecost.”
Connelly, who operates God’s Revolution Today multi-media ministry out of Burns Lake, B.C., said his message was in keeping with the message of another John 2,000 years ago: John the Baptist, who preached repentance, and promised that Jesus would baptize his hearers with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11). “Repentance points us to Pentecost,” Connelly said.
Connelly said the evidence of how little we as Catholics can do on our own power is all around us—or rather, among us. He said only 10 to 15 per cent of Catholics have a relationship with Jesus and are trying to be His disciples. The rest of the Catholic population is nominal at best, “and ‘nominal’ is kind for most of them.”
“Our programs are not working,” he said. “We need power that we do not have, and it is our lack of humility that will not admit it. We as a Church need to repent.”
That power, he said, comes from the Holy Spirit—the power that came down on Peter and the other apostles on the first Pentecost. “Something happened to Peter in that upper room,” he said, “and that something must happen in every Catholic.
“I’m not saying you need to join the charismatic renewal. I’m saying you need Pentecost. This should be universal—it should not just be a group in the Church. The Holy Spirit is central, central, central to the basics of Catholicism. Somehow, we’re not always getting the message.”
The Holy Spirit comes in fire, he said, and that’s exactly what we need.
“Fire can be seen,” he said. “A person who is on fire burns. The trouble is that the Church is not on fire.”
“The Spirit and the bride say ‘come’” (Revelation 22:17a) was Connelly’s overall theme for his talks. He devoted his morning talk to the Spirit, and the afternoon to the bride. The bride, he said, is us, or at least it’s supposed to be.
“God is not just looking for friends, or obedient servants,” he said. “He’s looking for a bride. The only thing we can compare it to on earth is a loving relationship between a husband and a wife.”
And to be a fitting bride for our Lord, we must have a new heart, like the one God gave to St. Margaret Mary, founder of the Sacred Heart devotion. “Love desires a heart that it not divided,” St. Margaret Mary said. “It calls for all or none.”
That, Connelly said, is something we can’t do for ourselves. We can only ask God humbly for a new heart, and then let him provide it, no matter how much it hurts.
“We have spiritual heart disease, and the divine physician must operate,” he said.
Connelly said the Church is facing tough times, but great times too. Tough times will mean Catholics have to make a conscious choice for their Church, he said, and many of the 85 to 90 per cent of Catholics who are lukewarm will drop aside. “Pope Benedict has said the Church of the future will be smaller,” he said.
Quoting Pope Benedict, Connelly said the Church of the future will have a renewed love for the Eucharist and for prayer; reconciliation between Christian denominations as all suffer persecution; and the flourishing of small faith communities.
“If you have a small prayer group, you’re right on target,” Connelly said.
But this small Church will also spread, he said: “Wherever there’s fire, people are going to gather.”
Connelly said God’s faithful must “come out of Babylon” (Revelation 18:4), not by literally leaving a sinful world but by setting ourselves apart from it spiritually, through personal holiness. “You live in Babylon. Babylon is all around you,” he said. “Create a desert in your own life where you will find God. That’s what a prayer group is.”
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