"A lay Catholic perspective"

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Fraternal Lessons

by John Lewis


THE CATHOLIC CHURCH accommodates all sorts of people within one network of truth. I understand that there are over 1000 well-established religious orders, in addition to other smaller groups under the authority of their local bishops. One movement of the Holy Spirit to which I am particularly indebted is the Charismatic Renewal. I thank the Lord for Charismatic Renewal, the people who introduced me to it, and the people I have met there.

The weekly prayer meeting is the main gathering event of the Charismatic Renewal and oriented to praising the Lord. At one prayer meeting Bill was the teacher and what he said was the opposite of what I would have thought. Bill told us that the praise time was not for God's benefit. He said that after the meeting God does not rub his hands and say, "Man I feel great, they really praised me this evening, man I feel good." (My thought was to ask, then why praise the Lord; it is surely not for my benefit?) Bill went on to explain that the reason we praise the Lord is this; it is good for us to do so. Clearly either Bill was mistaken or, unlikely as it may seem, possibly I was wrong. The fact is I was wrong; I missed the mark.

From this one experience I have come to see that a lot of other seemingly-strange teachings are also true, such as the "God is Love" teaching. I was correctly brought up to believe that keeping the Ten Commandments is mandatory. However, I had the motive wrong. God gave us the Ten Commandments for our benefit, as he knew that for us to be happy we must obey his commandments. It is true that breaking commandments leads to hell for now and for all eternity. Keeping the commandments gives joy now and forever. God loved us so much that he gave us the winning formula. Lest there be a misunderstanding, Jesus the model of faithfulness went with his parents into exile. Later, his friends deserted him and he was crucified. Joy is not the same thing as having a good time.

Last weekend I attended a men's fellowship conference. The first speaker was Bishop McNamara. His background impressed me; he is a former Rear-Admiral in the U.S. Navy Chaplaincy branch. His talk was about fatherless America and a Catholic response. He spoke of the absence of fathers in homes and our failures to be home leaders, and he talked of the representation of fatherhood in TV sitcoms and how this all leads to the disparagement of fatherhood, which leads to crime, murder, and poverty.

Our response to this crisis is not despair. The Church has kept the Father's blueprint; it is in the Gospel. Our response relates to our concept of God. God is love. Jesus is our answer.

The Charismatic Renewal has been a blessing to me. I am writing this page by courtesy of beloved friends whom I met through a men's breakfast sponsored by the Renewal. I also remember Lorne Polson — what a saint. These friends have encouraged me to learn about the Lord and strengthened my faith and I thank you all and Our Lord and Saviour who made it all possible.