Like St. Francis, it’s time to fall on our knees
Kneel before the Lord, invest your heart in him, rest in the Spirit’s love, and do your best to fulfill God’s will.
Do all of that, lay evangelist Jim Murphy says, and you’ll be doing your part to rebuild God’s church.
“Rebuild My Church,” the words of the crucified Christ to St. Francis of Assisi, was the theme of the Southern Regional Conference of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal March 28-30 at the Best Western Landmark hotel in Metairie.
Murphy was the keynote speaker at the Friday night session, and his blueprint for rebuilding comes from St. Bonaventure’s biography of St. Francis. In “The Life of St. Francis of Assisi,” St. Bonaventure describes how Francis went into the church of St. Damiano and “lay prostrate before a crucifix.” This is the first step of rebuilding, Murphy said, because “the closer you get to the Lord, the more you realize how little you have to give him.”
St. Francis gave God all that he had, and that was enough.
St. Bonaventure adds that St. Francis was “gazing with tearful eyes upon the holy cross.” With an emphasis on the tears of St. Francis, Murphy asked: “How deeply are we moved? How invested are we in the things of God?” To rebuild God’s church, Murphy said, we must be like St. Francis. “He was in love with God,” he said.
It was while gazing with tearful eyes upon the cross that St. Francis heard the voice of Jesus saying, “Francis, rebuild my church, which has fallen into ruin.” Those words sent St. Francis “into a great ecstasy.” You might say that Francis was “resting in the Spirit,” Murphy said, adding: “This is a key point. … We’re spending too much time on the practical before spending time on the mystical. Contemplation is the foundation of evangelization.”
Open to God’s will
Finally, Murphy said, St. Francis was open to obeying God’s will. In fact, St. Francis took the Lord literally and started rebuilding St. Damiano. It was only later that St. Francis understood the command to rebuild the Church of Christ. But what matters, Murphy said, was this: “When God spoke, he listened. He was prepared to put his whole heart into obeying the command.”
Building on the story of St. Francis, Murphy said that God calls us to do our best to follow his will and build up his church. “Even if you goof it up,” he said, “at least you gave God something to work with. … Anything worth doing is worth doing. Do something! God can multiply it.”
Murphy’s keynote address was part of a Spirit-filled weekend that included liturgies, a praise party, eucharistic adoration, late-night worship and more. Archbishop Gregory Aymond welcomed the hundreds of people in attendance Friday night. “My prayer is that this will be a time of renewal for you,” he said, a time to re-energize and be empowered to “reach out to the needy, the poor and those away from the church.”
This year’s conference included youth and young adults, with music by Leslie Bertucci and Noloudrocks as well as Joe Polito and Joyful Noise.
Domestic church addressed
Saturday featured a healing Mass with Father Robert Cruz from the Houma-Thibodaux Diocese, as well as a family workshop with Murphy, who spoke to adults on “Rebuilding the Domestic Church,” while children were involved in various activities. Internationally renowned missionary Maria Vadia highlighted the Saturday evening festival of praise. Vadia, originally from Cuba, emphasized the importance of relying on the Holy Spirit as the power to rebuild the church.
“We have been given everything we need to do the works of Jesus,” Vadia said.
Sunday featured a eucharistic healing service and concluded with Mass by Bishop Sam Jacobs, the recently retired Bishop of Houma-Thibodaux, who will mark his 50th anniversary of priestly ordination and 25 years as a bishop in the summer.
Approximately 1,000 people from the region attended the conference, leaving renewed for the work of the new evangelization. For information on the Catholic Charismatic Renewal of New Orleans and upcoming events, visit ccrno.org.