Serving the Diocese of Orlando Catholic Charismatic Renewal

We pray that through wisdom and spiritual understanding you should reach the fullest knowledge of His will.
Colossians 1:9

By Fr. Tom Forrest, CCSR

Fidelity, itís a touch of the Holy Spirit. You can call it a virtue, fruit of the Holy Spirit that makes us dependable. When Iím motivated by this fruit of the Holy Spirit, I keep every promise I make, I finish every job I begin. I follow to the letter this instruction I received from Jesus Christ. Let your Ďyesí be a Ďyesí, let your Ďno to anything that is evil, wrong, sinful be a Ďnoí. Because I am faithful, I win other peoples trust. They know they can put their confidence in me, they can rely on me. When I have this virtue, I become reliable.
When someone looks at you or me and they say, ĎWhat I like about you is the fact that you are so reliable". It implies a very high level of strength of character. It means that others know they can lean on me, I donít buckle. I donít accept failure, I do the job.
Fidelity, its just one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, but it enriches my character to the point of greatness. Fidelity alone can make me a great person. To be a great person I must be great in the way that I live and do everything that others are expecting of me.
Now there are two ways of being faithful. Faith-filled. First, it means that I never, never lose faith in God. Secondly, it means others never have a reason for losing their faith in me. God is always true to his promises (Psalm 145) and so too am I, his good and faithful servant.

The fruits of the Spirit are outstanding Christian virtues. Like any of the virtues, faithfulness, fidelity, makes me God-like. (Do) you remember that penny Catechism? Whoever forgot it? What was the third question'? How did God make me? And the answer, "to his own image and likeness." God loves us so much that he wants to put some of his qualities in us. He wants to make us look like Him. One of the outstanding qualities of God is His faithfulness. I have to be faithful to have peace myself so that the others who live with me can have peace. That's what upsets them when I don't come through. When I say it but I don't do it. When I promise it but I don't give it. What a different world we would be living in if we were all with each other and with God, always faithful. We would be back in paradise. How faithful was Jesus'? Every teaching he gave us. every command He gave us, He himself followed. Every mission that the Father gave him, he followed to the letter, to perfection. He meant evcrv word he spoke,
kept every promise he made. His yes' was a `yes' and his `no' was a no.

So first, lets look at the faithfulness of God. You donít know God unless you know Him to be faithful, unless you believe He is faithful. He made so many promises to us, among them this one: Ď1 will remain with you always, even to the end of the world" So, are you ever alone? Are you every without Godís help? Not if He made you this promise. How many psalms are there in the Bible? One hundred fifty. I will only quote three of them, Psalms 118, 119, 136. In those three you will hear God say to you 35 times, "my love for you is everlasting." He said it 35 times in the three psalms because He did not mean it? No, because He wanted you to believe it. He wanted you to put your trust in him so he repeats it again and again and again to make sure that you hear it and believe it and live it.
No failure, no sin of ours, no obstacle, no difficulty exists that is powerful enough to separate us from His love. What will separate us from the love of Jesus Christí? Will anguishí? Can distress. persecution. famine, or nakedness, peril, or the sword? No, not height, nor depth nor any creature is able to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ. the Lord. He is with us always. Some people come along and say, "Iím depressed" and we say, "Yes, I know, youíre depressing me!" We donít need any of that because we have this God who~ loves us with a never-ending love. The Lordís kindness is forever (Psalm 145). He is always faithful to His promises. He promised the Israelites a land of milk and honey. Did he keep his promise? They took possession of a fertile land, vineyards, olive groves and fruit trees in abundance. Jesus promises to send us His Holy Spirit. Did He keep His promise? He said: "Amen, Amen, I tell you, truly I tel/you I give you my word." He wanted us to believe and He kept His promise. Suddenly there came from the sky the noise like a strong driving wind and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues.
Psalm lii praises Godís fidelity with these words. "You are mindful of your covenant forever." In the covenant God promised us a Savior, did He keep His promise? He sent us the best savior He could send, His own divine son and that son, faithful to the Father, went all the way to the cross. Is God faithful? Do we know God to be faithful? Then why the fear? Why the tears? Why the terror? Why the worry? Why the depression? We can count on Him. He is always there for us and that gives us peace. We are his servants. Are his servants faithful like him? Iím going to give you two examples. Both women. Aside from Mary, this first woman is the most incredibly faithful person I ever read or heard about and I donít know her name. The only name we have for her is the Mother of the Maccabees. What a woman. The scriptures say that the most admirable and most worthy of everlasting remembrance was this mother who saw her seven sons perish in a single day and bore it courageously, each one of the sons died once (for their faith) but the mother died eight times. Seven times for her sons and once herself Read 2 Maccabees 7:1-42)
The other woman is Mother Teresa. She put all of her trust in God. Now how did God trust her? Mother had told me about the three times when Jesus spoke to her directly, asking something of her.
The first time, He told her to found the Missionaries of Charity. What kind of a job did she do? She founded up to 450 foundations in 120 countries of the world and before she died, had 4,500 members of her order. Did she do the job?
The second one, she was told, "Go to President Reagan, and ask him for food for the starving of Ethiopia". She took off immediately, went to Washington, spoke with President Reagan. He gave her 50 million dollars worth of food which she took to the poor of Ethiopia. Jesus said do it and Mother did
The third one, while coming back from Poland on a train to Rome I She was feeling very sad because of some priest that she tried to help in Poland. When she told me about this, she said, Father, they are so lonesome, they are so alone. She was worried about this, praying about it on the train. Then the Lord spoke to her and told her to begin the Veronica Intercessors for Priests. When she arrives in Rome, she calls me. She says, Father, the Lord told me to start the Veronica Intercessors for Priests, I donít know what that is. I said, I donít know either but I took a guess and said, well in tradition there is this woman who washed clean the face of the High Priest, Jesus. So maybe with prayer these intercessors, and you can see the need today, have to wipe clean the face, the sullied face, of any priest who needs the help. Then she went to work and before she was done she had 50,000 priests adopted in the prayers of contemplatives and sisters all over the world.
If suddenly we were all drenched, soaked, in that one fruit of the Holy Spirit, the fruit of fidelity so that we fearlessly put all our trust in God, that fearlessly everyone that needed us could knowingly, confidently, put their trust in us, then there would no longer be for us, in this world, a valley of tears.
What makes it a valley of tears is our infidelity. If we were faithful, our homes, our places of work would be places of comfort and of high productivity. Our churches would be packed not just with worshippers but with brothers and sisters taking real care of each other. Our government would be blessed with politicians who didnít work just to win the next election. Our streets would be clean and safe, free of fear and violence. God is certainly pleased with our devotions and our prayerfulness but he wants more than that of us. He wants our constancy, he wants our loyalty, he wants our fortitude, our perseverance, he wants to see us live in an utterly reliable way. Fidelity is certainly a vitally important virtue filling us with Godlike quality, making us truly what God wants us to beó utterly reliable after Godís own heart.
Fidelity makes me dependable, committed, persevering, loyal, hardworking, it makes me God-like. God is so amazingly faithful in His mercy, in His forgiveness, in His love, the way He hears our prayers, saving, healing, feeding. Shepherding, blessing us and supplying all our needs. Let us pray for it. Let us beg it of God.
Let us go back to paradise.

Fr. Tom Forrest, CCRS is a Redemptorist priest and International Director of Evangelization 2000. Editorís note: The above article was transcribed from a tape of Sunday Ďs homily preached at the 2002 Diocesan Charismatic Conference and edited to meet our



Six hundred conferees were exhorted, admonished, encouraged, and challenged as the theme GO INTO ALL THE WORLD AND PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS
was explored by three outstanding speakers, teachers and preachers the first weekend in October at the Hilton Hotel in Altamonte Springs.
AIlleluia Community, a covenant community in Augusta, Georgia. again, as in years past, led the praise and worship during the Conference with their anointed music.
Friday evening, the conference opened with our own Bishop Dorsey welcoming us with affirmation as he spoke of his support for us and the presence of the renewal in the Church.
County Judge Jan Halkerís powerful testimony of the years long need to do better than others, achieve more, and be in total control. She talked of the failures and abuses in her life that eventually lead her to the Lord. It was a witness to the love and healing power of God.
Come Follow Me was the topic of Fr. Bill Halbingís opening session talk. Everyone who knew Fr. Bill was prepared Ďto learn while we laughí. Preaching from 1 Kings 19, Fr. Bill spoke of yesterdays victories not being todayís victories. He spoke of Elijah as a prophet lead by the Holy Spirit. Elijahís mantle provided Elisha with a double portion of the Holy Spirit. The mantle means glory and power of the Spirit. A double portion of the Holy Spirit means you finally take your inheritance. We were told, "to be Christian is not a rightóitís a privilege".
Fr. Tom Forrest led off Saturday morning session with a call to live as Heralds of Christ. He told us that our call to be evangelizers holds great responsibility because we Ďgive away the pearl of great price.. .the treasure hidden in the field... Paradise. Before we can be a Ďherald of Jesus Christí, we must first know Him. Our greatest sin may be keeping the treasure to ourselves instead of sharing Him with others. it is a love story we have to tell and it must be written on our hearts.
Next, Fr. Bill celebrated Mass. In his homily he told us that Jesus gives two powers: the power to drive out hell and the power to see miracles. He said, when Jesus does something miraculously itís
to tell what heís going to do spiritually. Then he talked of three Wís: Watch Satan fall. Wielding of the power and your name Written in the Book of Life.
Kay Stevens greeted us after lunch with a true rags to riches witness of courage and determination; a stored fired by the presence of the Holy Spirit in her life at a very early age. Her music and continual pointing to God as a source of all her success was a lesson for all to hear.
Sister Nancy Kellar began the evening session with a talk entitled A Power Beyond Our Own.
She spoke of the Holy Spirit and the charismatic renewal, reminding us that we needed to broaden our vision of the renewal. She said, that thereís always more of the Holy Spirit. Thereís more for each of us and more for the Catholic charismatic renewal in the Church. She exhorted us to broaden our vision of the renewal. Then she talked on the things that hold people back from coming into a fuller life in the Holy Spirit. She made us aware of the things that cause us to lose our fervor.
Fr. Tom Forrest close Saturdayís night session with his talk A New Evangelization and A New Pentecost. Father put so much energy and body language into his message the importance of it was not missed by anyone. The whole church is missionary and evangelization is the first duty of the people of God. The church exists to evangelize. If it isnít doing that how alive is it?
Sunday morning, Sister Nancy challenged us to Go Into All The World. The last words of Jesus to us were not a suggestion, but a command to:
"go make disciples of all nations and I will be with you to the end of time". The fruit is not for the branches, it is for the hungry and will only multiply when itís given away. Evangelization is one beggar showing another beggar where the bread is.
Fr. Tom celebrated the closing liturgy. His homily on Fidelity is the featured article in this newsletter. The Conference ended with this word:
"I have given you all that you need. Accept it and me and go forth in to the world".
Tapes of the Conference may be ordered from Living Life Abundantly 325 Scarlet Blvd., Oldsmar, FL 34677. Tel: 1-800-558-5452.
Submitted by Teri Surbrook