From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Eastern Washington Catholic Charismatics gather in Spokane

Story and photo by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff

Photo
  • Father Mike Savelesky, Inland Register spirituality columnist and pastor of Assumption Parish, Spokane, was one of the speakers for the Inland Empire Catholic Charismatic Renewal conference held last month in Spokane. (IR photo)

    Holy Names Sister Linda Koontz of El Paso, Texas, was the featured speaker at the Inland Empire Catholic Charismatic Renewal annual conference held in Spokane last month.

    The heart of Sister Linda’s talk addressed the conference’s theme, “Abide in Me.”

    “Jesus didn’t come to give us a religion,” she said. “He came to give us a relationship. Does Jesus abide in you or is he just a visitor?”

    Sister Linda chided the spiritual state of many people in the renewal and in the church. “We are the frozen chosen,” she said. But there is hope. People can be set free with a “fresh anointing” of the Holy Spirit. She quoted Pope Paul VI, who said the greatest need, first and last, “is a perennial Pentecost, a coming alive in Jesus so it lasts all year long.”

    Sister Linda recalled her own disappointment and the emptiness in her life as a Sister in the late 1960s, saying it was unfulfilling and “dull.” She told about coming across a group of teenagers who “were happy in the Holy Spirit and I wondered where they got it. I lived in chapel and I didn’t have it. But I knew I wanted it.”

    The teens prayed with her and soon her spiritual life began to blossom. “That’s how you know the presence of the Spirit,” she said, “by the fruit. Astonishing things happen when the Holy Spirit moves.”

    One of her firm beliefs is that those who “abide in Jesus” need to tell “what the Lord has done” for them. She said she wanted to “cry out over the whole church and tell them the Holy Spirit is the only way.”

    When believers live in the Holy Spirit, she said, “Jesus can use us the way he wants, to heal other people. Jesus heals today but we don’t believe it and we don’t call on him. He wants us to put our burdens down and live a new life.

    “There is a God-sized hole in each of us that only Jesus can fill. God’s plan is to bring us to life and restore us to his presence. The Holy Spirit changes persons and history and leaves people astonished. When there are people who are hungry, we will see Jesus work. If you are hungry (spiritually), are you ready to change your address and return home to the Lord?”

    Sister Linda grew up in Spokane, where she attended St. Aloysius and Holy Names Academy. She entered the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in Spokane in 1960.

    She now works with the poverty-stricken people in Juarez, Mexico, where she has started a ministry called “Spirit for the Lord International.”

    Among the guest presenters Saturday was Father Mike Savelesky, pastor of Assumption Parish in Spokane and spirituality writer for the Inland Register. He gave a talk titled “The Holy Spirit in Times of Trial.”

    He explained that each person is made up of three parts.

    There is the physical body — “the means of being in the world, the temple of the Holy Spirit.” There is the mind — “allowing us to reflect on our experiences and use our intelligence.” Then there is spirit or soul — “every person has one of these, too, an inner self being that is deeper and richer. It is otherness which gives us our identity and makes us unique.

    “If we are focused on our bodies,” said Father Savelesky, “it leads nowhere. It has no power to save. But people who experience this new reality of the other Spirit are in touch with true freedom. We often forget the new era made possible by the choice of God in Christ Jesus.”

    Father Savelesky also talked about abiding in Christ.

    “If we forget to listen,” he said, “and to experience this deep hole in ourselves, we will miss the whole boat. If you just listen to your life, you will recognize that we are not abandoned by God.”

    Father Savelesky said this is “nowhere more evident than in times of trial.” Signs of trial include decentering, fragmentation, a sense of false control, power plays and a sense of desperation.

    “It’s a time of confusion when simplicity no longer heals,” he said. There is a pressure to act, and make a decision. The reality requires action.

    People living through times of trial often choose to hide from it or deny it. “They also blame others,” Father Savelesky said. “But how I answer the time of trial is a statement about me. This is when we pray ‘Come, Holy Ghost,’ and recognize that it is out of our hands.

    “God isn’t ‘out there,’ but profoundly and intimately within us. He knows our trials and needs intimately. His Spirit is already poured out; that’s what God has done for us.”

    Father Savelesky reminded his audience that “Jesus lived in a time of trial; all times are times of trial. We are all struggling ... on this journey of faith.”

    Jesus dealt with his time of trial by “staying focused on the kingdom of God,” Father Save-lesky said. “He had no agenda of his own and had a sense of his identity in his mission. He didn’t get distracted and kept his opposition in perspective.

    “You and I have that same perspective, but we don’t claim it.”

    How is that done?

    Father Savelesky offered some practical help:

    First, “pray. Turn your heart and mind to God.

    “Sort through the issues. Ask, ‘What’s the real issue? What are the facts of the situation?’ Be patient; this can take time.

    “Look at your motivation. What moves you in dealing with the truth? Ask why that bothers you.

    “Never make decisions in turmoil, only in peace.”

    Finally, “Step out of yourself and let God’s spirituality take over. Unforgiveness is one of the biggest obstacles, and yet it’s part of conversion, to let it go. There comes a point, and for Jesus it was in the garden, of letting it all go and letting God be God.

    “If we have done all we can do to get prepared, if we are radically converted and honest with ourselves, and in touch with the Holy Spirit, God, in his surprising energy and grace, will surprise us with the answer to our prayers.”

    About 200 people attended the two-day event, which ended with a Mass and healing service Saturday night.


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