We are not just called to be people who have experienced a ‘personal Pentecost’, important as this is, but along with this experience goes a responsibility.
The Culture of Pentecost
(Used with Permission, ICCRS Newsletter)
May the ‘Spirituality of Pentecost’ spread in the Church for a new ‘Culture of Pentecost’. During the Pontificates of John Paul II (May 2004) and Benedict XVI (Sept 2005), there has been strong encouragement to the Church to propagate the Culture of Pentecost. Obviously this is a road concept with many dimensions but undoubtedly this call finds a home with us in Charismatic Renewal. On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of CCR, Cardinal Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, spoke about the experience of Baptism in the Spirit or the Outpouring of the Spirit.
He said that this experience which is central to charismatic Renewal and which has embraced millions of Catholics on every continent could be the starting point of the Culture of Pentecost. The Grace of Pentecost is a Missionary Grace It is therefore important for us to embrace our mandate. We are not just called to be people who have experienced a ‘personal Pentecost’, important as this is, but along with this experience goes a responsibility. We are called to be channels for the graces of Pentecost in our Church and in our world. When the Holy Spirit came down upon the apostles in the Upper room they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.
They experienced not only a personal renewal but they were also empowered with gifts such as speech/ glossolalia and courage which enabled them to reach out powerfully into the surrounding culture. They were transformed and Peter, who was an uneducated layman, was able to so convince the crowds by his arguments that they accepted his message and were baptized. On that very first day about 3,000 new converts were added to their number. Throughout the Acts of the Apostles Luke records many instances where the apostles moved in the power of the Holy Spirit and consequently, the Church began to grow in number (e.g. Acts 2:47; 4:4; 5:14; 6:1,7: 11:21,24). So the grace of Pentecost is essentially a missionary grace. While recognizing that in the Charismatic Renewal we do not have a monopoly of the Holy Spirit.
It would seem that we do have a particular calling to be ambassadors of the Holy Spirit spreading the Culture of Pentecost. This was emphasized by Pope John Paul II in 2002, when he said: “In our time that is so hungry for hope, make the Holy Spirit known and loved. Help bring to life that ‘Culture of Pentecost’ that alone can make fruitful the civilization of love and friendly co-existence among peoples. With fervent insistence, never tire of praying ‘Come Holy Spirit! Come! Come!’” (Address to delegates from the Renewal in the Spirit).
Moving from the Spirituality of Pentecost to the Culture of Pentecost The challenge for CCR is not to keep the Spirituality of Pentecost locked up in the prayer meeting or indeed to restrict it just to the Charismatic Renewal. Evangelization must be a priority for us, as it was for the apostles when they left the Upper room. As early as 1992, Pope Benedict (then Cardinal Ratzinger) wrote; “Are we going to discover the secret of the first Pentecost in the Church? Are we going to offer ourselves humbly to the renewing power of the Holy Spirit so that He can free us from our poverty and our total inability to carry out the task of proclaiming Jesus Christ to our fellow men?…
The Upper Room is the place where Christians allow themselves in welcoming the Holy Spirit to be transformed in prayer. But it is also the place from which one goes out to bring the fire of Pentecost to one’s brothers and sisters” (New Covenant magazine). Clearly, Pentecost is for the world. It is about transforming society through the power of the Holy Spirit. A culture of Pentecost creates a society that upholds human dignity through acknowledging that humanity is made in God’s image and likeness. It is a society where hope reigns supreme and where light shines out stronger than any darkness. It is the exact opposite to the cultural relativism which pervades so much of our world. At a conference in Lucca, Italy in 2005, Salvatore Martinez defined the Culture of Pentecost as ‘the antidote to the dark evil of the world’. In reply Cardinal Rylko said; ‘we must learn the method of the Holy Spirit who works in history and renews the face of the earth, not to be overcome by evil’
We all have a responsibility as individuals and as groups to discern the ways in which the Lord is calling us to be promoters of the Culture of Pentecost. One way in which this will happen is through intensifying the Spirituality of Pentecost in the Church. Perhaps you can do this by encouraging as many people as possible to participate in praying the Pentecost Novena and to join in the worldwide witness of the Pentecost of the Nations. From this place of intercession we will be empowered to reach out into the world promoting the culture of Pentecost through the witness of our lives and through works of mercy and justice.