My husband and I attended a Catholic Charismatic Renewal Conference this past weekend. We had not been to one for several years for one reason or another.
But it was worth the wait! What a blessing it was to be there! Talk about renewal.
There was a lot of beautiful music. And daily Mass. Oh my. The joy. There was so much joy. So much praise & worship.
We had an opportunity for confession and we had Mass both days and we had a healing service unlike one I had ever been to before. The focus was completely on Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament.
There was a procession with the Blessed Sacrament. And then the monstrance was placed on the altar and we prayed and prayed and sang and listened to the priest pray. His words were so powerful.
Before I knew it, tears were streaming down my cheeks. I just knew I was loved by Jesus. At that moment, all was well.
Over the weekend, there were some inspiring talks. The priest spoke about the church being under attack and how we charismatics need to go forth and spread the gospel. He told us to speak out. We need to use our gifts, he said, and bring the light of Christ to all.
We cannot be silent. We need to defend life. We need to proclaim the gospel for all to hear.
But with love, he told us. Don't criticize. Don’t condemn. No infighting. Pray for the person who gets you upset.
The theme of the conference was Jeremiah 15:19 - "If you return, I will restore you and you shall stand before me."
The theme for me - the message that I kept getting all weekend from different speakers was this -
The Church is not about a set of rules or regulations. The Church is about the person of Jesus Christ. And once we fall in love with Jesus, then we love His church.
So when I got home, I found these quotes from Pope Benedict:
"The Church is not an association that wishes to promote a certain cause. It is not about a cause. It is about the person of Jesus Christ." - Pope Benedict XVI, July 1, 2008
And this one too - "Many people perceive Christianity as something institutional -- rather than as an encounter with Christ -- which explains why they don't see it as a source of joy." -Pope Benedict XVI, May 2004
Ahh, but it is a source of joy.
I am now convinced, that we will never be able to change people's minds until we change their hearts. The opinions out there in the secular world about the Catholic Church, about contraception and abortion and euthanasia, will not change until people change. Until people have a real conversion of heart and fall in love with the Lord.
Then change will happen.
Years ago I had a conversion and became Catholic. I was changed by Jesus.
Jesus makes all things new.