He made his remarks today in Florence, Italy:
“Pope Francis has strongly outlined anew a comprehensive vision for the future of the Catholic church, forcefully telling an emblematic meeting of the entire Italian church community here that our times require a deeply merciful Catholicism that is unafraid of change.
In a 49-minute speech to a decennial national conference of the Italian church — which is bringing together some 2,200 people from 220 dioceses to this historic renaissance city for five days — Francis said Catholics must realize: “We are not living an era of change but a change of era.”
“Before the problems of the church it is not useful to search for solutions in conservatism or fundamentalism, in the restoration of obsolete conduct and forms that no longer have the capacity of being significant culturally,” the pontiff said at one point during his remarks.
“Christian doctrine is not a closed system incapable of generating questions, doubts, interrogatives — but is alive, knows being unsettled, enlivened,” said the pope. “It has a face that is not rigid, it has a body that moves and grows, it has a soft flesh: it is called Jesus Christ.”
“The reform of the church then, and the church is semper reformanda … does not end in the umpteenth plan to change structures,” he continued. “It means instead grafting yourself to and rooting yourself in Christ, leaving yourself to be guided by the Spirit — so that all will be possible with genius and creativity.”
— — Francis said Catholics must realize: “We are not living an era of change but a change of era.”
Two weeks before my ordination on May 18 1996 I picked up and read a book that changed my life. The book was ‘The Catholic Church at the End of and Era. What is the Spirit Saying’ by Ralph Martin.
The title of the book intrigued me. It was as if the title of the book was a prophecy. The world was not changing by degree. There are core changes happening in our world. We are living at the end of an era.
This is why we need a New Evangelization. A fresh new way of thinking and reaching out to the world with the Good News of the Gospel.
When I read ‘The Catholic Church at the End of and Era. What is the Spirit Saying’ Ralph Martin talked about something that I had never heard before. He talked about the importance of the ‘Baptism of the Holy Spirit.’
It was because of this book that on my ordination day as I laid prostrate before my bishop. I prayed this prayer.
“Jesus I know that I will become a priest in the sacrament sense. But I also need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit in the Pentecostal and Evangelical sense also. Jesus I need your Holy Spirit.”
Two days later on May 20 1996 at 8 pm at St Charles Church in Clarendon Va. I was Baptized in the Holy Spirit.
What is one thing that the Holy Spirit is telling the Church at this moment in time? When as Pope Francis says “We are not living an era of change but a change of era.”
Jesus is reminding the Church of the importance of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The grace of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is meant for every member of the Body of Christ.
May you pray today “Jesus baptize me with your Holy Spirit. Jesus baptize me with the Holy Spirit and with Fire.”