August / September 2017 - Vol. 93

Bruce Yocum gives main
                                      address at June 1 CCR 50th
50 Years of Charismatic Community

Reflections on a Remarkable Work of God

by Bruce Yocum

Intro: The 50th Anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal was celebrated in Rome at the Feast of Pentecost, 4th of June [2017]. The event attracted tens of thousands of members of the renewal, and many came early for days of prayer events, talks and seminars.

Three streams of the charismatic renewal communities, the Catholic Fraternity, the European Network of Communities (the ENC) an ecumenical network, and the Sword of the Spirit held a common event for the Golden Jubilee which took place on
Thursday afternoon, June 1st, in the Lateran Basilica, the pope’s parish church. About 2,000 people attended. Bruce Yocum was chosen by the three groups to give the main address. The follow is an adapted transcription of Bruce's presentation.

Looking Back Looking Around and Looking Ahead

I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name for ever and ever. Every day I will bless you, and praise your name for ever and ever. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall laud your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.  On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. Men shall proclaim the might of your terrible acts, and I will declare your greatness.

Psalm 145:1-6
It was a great blessing to be gathered in Rome to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the charismatic renewal. And we have to begin by thanking Pope Francis for inviting us here and giving us the privilege of celebrating both the Vigil of Pentecost and the solemnity of Pentecost together with him.

We thank Michelle Moran and the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services (ICCRS), and Gilberto Barbosa and the Catholic Fraternity for organizing this event for us.

We have had the remarkable blessing of four successive Popes who have been great supporters of this renewal – even to the point of Pope Francis recommending the Life in the Spirit Seminars to the whole Church.

Fifty years is a good moment to take stock of where we are. It is long enough that we have a genuine history to look back on, a history of great acts of God, but the renewal is young enough that we can look ahead to even greater things that God will do.

So I invite us to look back, to look around and to look ahead.

Paul Jordan from
                          Jerusalem Community leads worship
Paul Jordan from Jerusalem leads worship

Looking Back: Remembering the Works of God

We are here to acknowledge and to give thanks for the remarkable things God has done in our midst over the past fifty years.

As the liturgy tells us - or rather, as the Church proclaims in the liturgy of the Eucharist:
It is right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Lord, Holy Father, almighty and eternal God, Through Christ our Lord. (Preface of Sundays in Ordinary Time, 1)
We are instructed in the Psalms to
Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him, tell of all his wonderful works! (Psalm 105/104:1-2)
Remember the wonderful works that he has done, (Psalm 105/104:5)
To proclaim the great deeds of God, to tell of His saving acts is to worship Him. We can consider our days here in Rome, as we remember and recount what God has done in this outpouring of His Holy Spirit, as one great act of worship.

But there is more. We have a duty to proclaim these great deeds of God to our children and our children’s children.
We will not hide from their children, but will tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders which he has wrought.... that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, (Psalm 78/77:4, 6-7)
We have a duty to pass on to coming generations our testimony to what God has done among us.

Proclaiming the great works of God is an incitement to faith for all who hear of them.

Here let me publicly thank Patti Mansfield Gallagher for the remarkable gift she has given to us and to future generations in her new edition of As By a New Pentecost. It is a superb testimony to what God did to bring into being this work of grace, and an excellent means for passing on to the next generation the story of what God has done for us. – And I hope that it is soon translated into many languages.

Patti has captured the extraordinary ecumenical dimension of this renewal, detailing the prayer of a Pope, answered within hours by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on a small group of Protestants Bible school student in Kansas, USA.

We here today are heirs of the Pentecostal movement. Let us not forget that.

But we have not only to remember, but to remind ourselves again and again of what God has done for us so that we do not turn away from or lose the great gift He has so generously given. Forgetting led the Israelites to sin:
But they soon forgot His works... (Psalm 106/105:13)
They forgot God their Savior who had done such great things in Egypt... (Psalm 106/105:21)
So let us take this as an opportunity also to ask the Lord to keep alive in our minds, hearts and spirits gratitude for the great gift of this unexpected and remarkable outpouring of His Holy Spirit.

Jean Barbara,
                          President of Sword of the Spirit, speaks
Jean Barbara, president of Sword of the Spirit, addresses the assembly

Looking Around: Getting Perspective on God's work

The early exhilaration
I hesitate to confess it, but I am so old that I was around at the beginning of charismatic renewal in the Catholic Church. It was an extraordinary, exhilarating time. When I attended my first charismatic prayer meeting on March 8 1968, in the apartment of Steve Clark, Ralph Martin, Jim Cavnar and Jerry Rauch (who were all at that time working for St. Mary's parish at the University of Michigan) there were perhaps a dozen people attending. By the end of February - three weeks later - there were 90! By May there were 300 or more attending every Thursday night. By 1969, only two years after the earliest Catholic charismatic prayer groups began, the Bishops of the United States issued a statement in support of the movement. This was a sign and a wonder: bishops never do anything so quickly!

The renewal was spreading worldwide with a rapidity that was head-turning. Within the first few years the renewal had become a far-flung international phenomenon, with rapidly growing centers in Europe, Latin America, Asia, the South Pacific and Africa. New Covenant magazine was being mailed throughout the world. The national conferences in the United States had become so large there were being held in the football stadium at the University of Notre Dame.

This was wildfire!
Not only was the renewal crossing national boundaries, it was crossing ecumenical boundaries, creating a grass roots ecumenical movement. Under the masterful leadership of Dr. Kevin Ranaghan, a very broad-based ecumenical committee prepared and led an ecumenical conference of over 50,000 in Kansas City, Misouirie in 1977.

Building a Fire
So what we saw in those years was wildfire.

But God had been at work for years gathering sticks for this fire, and Patti also tells a part of that story, showing the importance, for example, of the Cursillo movement in the preparation for what God would do in Charismatic Renewal. 

Getting Perspective
Back in those years I often went camping in the springtime in the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, where melting late winter snow and spring showers can turn the many steeply tumbling mountain rivers into raging torrents. The current was often so swift and strong that if one attempted to cross, even where the water was only waist deep, one could be swept away downstream. That was often for me an image of what had happened in the renewal. I, and many millions of others, had been caught up in the powerful current of this new work of God and were swept along in it. The current was so strong that we were engulfed by it, our lives being swirled around by it, all of our attention absorbed by it.

In those early days the current of charismatic renewal and covenant community had such a strong hold upon my life that I thought that it was what God was doing in the Church.

These racing rivers are landscape-changing - pushing around boulders and breaking down banks, transforming the landscape.

  When a mountain river gets a good ways down the mountain it becomes deeper, broader, even more powerful but less violent. You can get your head up and look around. After the charismatic renewal had become an accepted and ubiquitous aspect of the life of the church I began to notice that it was not the only river on the mountain! There were in fact, and literally (not an exaggeration) hundreds of these powerful currents: Neocatechumenate, the Focolare, the St. Egidio movement, Communion and Liberation, Cursillo and many, many more. They are all new, all products of the work of the Holy Spirit in the church in the 20th century.

We rightly appreciate the great work of God that is the charismatic renewal, and for us in particular charismatic community. But When we lift up our heads out of the roaring, rushing waters of the action of God that has formed us and carried us, we see that we are one of many powerful currents rushing along, many other new forms of life in the church which began contemporaneously with us and are both like us and quite different from us.

I had the great privilege of attending “Together for Europe” Stuttgart 2007, a gathering of leaders of more than 250 new communities and movements just from Europe, all beginning within the last 50 years.

Great variety and diversity of charismatic communities
Even within this great stream of charismatic communities there is a great variety and a great diversity.

As all these rivers of God’s life and action go crashing and racing along they are transforming the landscape of the church.

We must be grateful to God for what he done for us in charismatic renewal and in community, and we must faithfully live out the call He has given to us so that it can bear the fruit in the life of the Church that God intends. At the same time we have to be aware, as the Lord said through prophecy to us in our communities in the Sword of the Spirit many years ago, we are Aa part and not the whole.”

We need that perspective so that we can look ahead with clarity of vision to see where God is leading us.

crow attending June 1 Golden
                                  Jubilee session

Looking Ahead

What does the future hold? I don’t know much, but - Days of trial, days of darkness, certainly.

But also as that same prophetic word said, a time of glory for the Church
A time of darkness is coming on the world, but a time of glory is coming for my church, a time of glory is coming for my people.  I will pour out on you all the gifts of my Spirit.  I will prepare you for spiritual combat; I will prepare you for a time of evangelism that the world has never seen.
But in what form that will take place, and what our role will be.....

God will continue to pour out His Spirit
In 2013 ICCRS sponsored a “prophetic consultation” in the Holy Land, and on one of those days we prayed together in what some believe to be the “upper room” where the disciples were gathered on the day of Pentecost. We had an excellent time of prayer, and during that prayer time we received a prophetic word, a promise from the Lord that He was not finished pouring out the Holy Spirit in this renewal. It was very much like a prophetic word we received many years ago:
The Lord says, “when I poured out my Holy Spirit upon you how did I pour it upon you?  Did I pour it upon you in small measure? No, I poured it upon you as the beginning of a river which I intend to widen and to deepen and to grow in its strength, its current, its volume. I am zealous for my people's sake. I am zealous to save them and to change them, to restore them. And I will pour out my Holy Spirit upon you more and more until it is accomplished.”
Three simple points
1.    Throughout the history of the Church, from the very beginning, God has used renewal communities as a source of strength and fresh vision. If you ask "Why has God suddenly raised up so many new communities in the Church?” the answer surely is that He is about a work of renewal.

2.    Stay clear on and faithful to your call. God always takes the initiative to bring renewal and new life.  He gives the call - but we must respond to the call, we must heed and answer it, the call that He has given to us.

But why so many new forms of community, so many distinct callings?

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.  1 Corinthians 12:4-7

The members of the body. Not all are the eyes or the hands or the feet.

3.    Live your call charismatically, with expectant faith, looking for God's word, God's intervention, God's miraculous power.


God has given us the great privilege of seeing His powerful action
•    In our individual lives
•    In our communities
•    In the Church

The Church has encouraged and supported us in a remarkable way.

Let us celebrate these blessings, remember them and look with great expectation to the future.

Bruce Yocum is a former President of Christ the King Association and a founding leader of the Sword of the Spirit.  .l
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