A Letter to the Remnant
A Letter to the Remnant People of the
Charismatic Prayer Community of Boston College
From John Mallon
My dear friends, brothers and sisters, of the Charismatic Prayer Community of Boston College:
I write to you in the Holy Spirit of our Lord Jesus in the Father's love.
I write to exhort you and encourage you.
Though we face many trials, obstacles, and disappointments there is cause for rejoicing here! (1 Peter 1:6; James 1:2-4). The turmoil we experience in our Church today is but birth pangs of a new era. (Mt. 25: 8). Many prophetic voices through the centuries have pointed to this, our time, as a time of something special. Some have even made reference to a Slav Pope.
The approved Marian apparitions have given us the message to repent, pray, and fast for peace in our world and the conversion of sinners. Many have responded to this. In 1975, at St. Peter's in Rome, a prophecy given by Fr. Michael Scanlan, T.O.R., warned about a time of darkness and persecution coming upon the Church, and of many of God's people being more under the spirit of the world than the Holy Spirit. We see this all around us, even—or should I say especially—in the Church. However, we are not to be discouraged! It is a fantastic time to be a Catholic! Fr. Scanlan went on to prophesy that the dark time would be followed by the greatest period of evangelization the world has ever seen. Indeed, Christian leaders have already sounded the trumpet for this earlier this month in New Orleans. We are in the midst of a great Christian awakening, and a Catholic renaissance. Cardinal Newman predicted about this coming at the end of our century, saying: “It will be like a second spring.”
So what does all this say to us here at BC? We are few in number, but I say that is irrelevant. What matters is our Faithfulness and our Love. Many seeds have been planted, and no doubt many who come after us will reap fruits that we may never see. (cf. 1 Cor. 3: 5-9). It does not matter that we see, for we live by faith and not by sight, (2 Cor. 5:7) and faith is the substance of things hoped for. (Heb. 11:1).
Since our opponent the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour, (1 Peter 5: 8), I would like to present a list of cautions based on experience and observation concerning matters that could get in the way of our faithfulness to our Lord in His day to day call to us.
1. Discouragement, anger, and lamentation over days gone by of apparent greater commitment and larger numbers. These tempt us to judge, accomplish nothing, and prevent us from hearing the ever new instructions from the Spirit for today .
2. Contention and bickering: much time and energy has been dissipated on matters of controversy among us in the past. For example, the Catholic/Protestant questions. If anyone has difficulties with Catholic doctrines he or she should consult a trusted priest and pray that Jesus Himself will be his or her teacher by the Spirit of peace, and not confusion or fear which comes from the evil one. We must always remember that there is more that unites us than divides us. We should be children no longer blown about by every wind of doctrine originating in human trickery and skill in proposing error. (cf. Ep. 4:14-16) (see also Gal. 5:15.)
3. Laying scrupulous and heavy burdens on ourselves and one another. Commitment flows from the Spirit into our hearts and bubbles up into the will. It is irreverent to demand that others conform to our piety, especially in the name of fraternal correction. Some can fast weekly, monthly, or not at all; and some may only be able to attend shared prayer on an irregular basis; according to their other responsibilities, which we dare not judge. We are part of the larger Church which has adequate "house rules" for our spiritual protection. We are not under vows. See Galatians.
4. Spiritual pride: We who have experienced the Power of God in Pentecost in our day ought not to be puffed up about it, but rather humbled and awed that the Spirit who blows where He will (Jn. 3:8) blew on us in this astounding and special way, unworthy as we are. (2 Cor. 3: 5). Beware also of that false humility which is an odd form of pride. This tends to deny the Power of God (cf. 2 Cor. 3:6) working through us and quenches the work of the Spirit. (1 Thes. 5:19). Use your gifts! But always in love for the upbuilding of others, never to show off or proselytize.
Some have voiced concerns to me about witnessing. My suggestion is to look to St. John the Evangelist, the disciple whom Jesus loved, as our example. St. John is often pictured with his head resting on our Lord's chest. I like to think that what made him a great evangelist was what he heard when he listened to the Heart of Jesus. His message was the result of his intense intimacy with, and love for Jesus. Now then, you are the light of the world, let your light shine before all, that all may see the good that you do and give glory to God! (Mt. 5:14—16). But, if your light should dim, come to Jesus in prayer and silence, especially in the Blessed Sacrament, and be loved. Be-love-ed, like St. John, and get your batteries charged. Jesus is the True Vine, and apart from Him we can do nothing! (Jn. 15). Pray always! (1 Thes. 5:17, Ep. 6:18). Everything comes from prayer—it is our shelter. (Psalm 121). If we do this our witness will be our very being . Ask the Lord to draw to you those who will be blessed by the uniqueness of your witness and God will speak to them through you. You can trust Him to provide the words for that person's needs that you may not even be aware of. (Lk. 12:12). You will know that it was of God when you come away feeling that you were the one who was blessed.
Again, by all means, use your spiritual gifts. Sometimes we are called to do this boldly; other times discreetly, always respectful of persons and where they are in the Lord. (1 Cor. 1-4, 5-12) Avoid "churchy" or charismatic jargon which alienates and puts people off. Rather, be all things to all people. (1 Cor. 9: 22-23). Speaking only those things that will upbuild. (Ep. 4: 29). See 1 Cor. 16:40.
Remember the prophecies our community has received: "I am going to pour out My Spirit in power on this place, [BC] but I am not just going to use the charismatic renewal—so don't be jealous!" I have indeed met other Catholic brothers and sisters on this campus zealous to share the Good News of our Lord, especially some from Opus Dei, with their fine gifts of discipline and formation. They have been a great encouragement to me and we may rejoice in them.
We must be wary, of the two opposite problems of fundamentalism, and the increasingly bizarre forms of liberal and radical theology, some of which have strayed into idolatry, paganism, and the occult. Those involved with these "no-gods" must be prayed for. (cf. Gal. 4: 8-9). We indeed tread among snakes and scorpions (Lk.10:19). We are often lambs among wolves. (Lk. 10: 3). We have power over this, but as our Lord instructs, this is not where our our rejoicing lies. (Lk. 10:20). God has anointed leaders in place in His Church to deal with false teachers of other gospels. (Gal. 1: 6—12). We must be charitable to persons, avoid fear and anger, and focus on Jesus and the marvelous, if subtle—yet spectacular things the Spirit is doing in our midst—like healing Fr. Bob's ankle! (Mk. 16:18b). Our God reigns.
The danger of fundamentalism is that it comes on, often without sincere gentleness, seeking to prove points—often with more style than substance. These people usually lack sensitivity to the Catholic heart and mind, bulldozing the Word, rendering it repellant with jargon and in-group language. This alienates rather than attracts. This approach is so unnecessary because the True Christ shining forth from a human heart is naturally attractive. What is needed is to bless, not bludgeon—but you know this. When we encounter this problem we must appreciate that these brethren are sincere in their intentions, but their style and methods often do more harm than good. We can try to point this out to them, in love; but if they will not hear us we can only shake the dust from our feet. (Lk. 9: 5). Avoid arguments. (see 2 Tim. 2: 23—25). Try to undo any damage done to anyone with your witness of love. Lamentably, some of these folks are more concerned with tearing down Catholicism than building up the Body of Christ.
Concerning both of these extremes—certain forms of fundamentalism and certain radical theologies,—we can only cite our beloved brother St. John: "Beloved, do not believe every spirit..." (1 Jn. 4, 5:19-21) and St. Paul,"Test everything and hold fast to what is good" (1 Thes. 5:21). The Lord calls us to be like little children, (Mt. 18:3) but that is not all—He also calls us to to be wise as serpents, (Mt. 10:16) as well as innocent as doves. In regards to dissenting theology in the classroom, undifferentiated from Church Teaching, see 2 Tim. 4: 3-5. We may take assurance and consolation from the writings of our brother, St. Ignatius of Loyola: "If we wish to be sure that we are right in all things, we should be ready to accept this principle: I will be ready to believe that the white I see is black, if the hierarchical Church so defines it." (Spiritual Exercises) Remember the words of St. Augustine who said “The measure of the Holy Spirit in a person is their love for the Church.” (paraphrased). Also see 2 Tim. 3:14; Heb. 13:8—9. Be respectful of priests. (1 Peter 5: 5—7, Sirach 7:29—31).
Rejoice! The Kingdom of God is at hand! In prayer I heard from the Lord that the enemy would be kicking up his heels at BC, but do not be alarmed. These are merely the death throes of his strongholds coming down. (cf. Lk. 10:18). Pray and discern this in your hearts and and be watchful to see if it is not true! Rejoice! Our names are written in the Book of Life! (Lk. 10:20)! “Remain calm so that you will be able to pray. Above all let your love for one another be constant, for love covers a multitude of sins. The one who speaks is to deliver God's message. The one who serves is to do it with the strength provided by God. Thus, in all of you God is to be glorified through Jesus Christ: To Him be glory and dominion throughout the ages. Amen.” (1 Peter 4: 7b-8, 11). You are a great encouragement to me, and “I am sure of this much: that He who has begun the good work in you will carry it through to completion right up to the day of Christ Jesus.” (Ph.1:6). Glory be to Him now and to the day of eternity! Amen. (2 Peter 3:18b).
© 1987, 2008, 2020 by John Mallon