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Not often do I have the privilege of participating in events that will be written in history books as monumental game-changing moments of history. Today was such a day.

My team of discipleship students arrived at the Circus Maximus in Rome hours before the opening band would step out on stage. The sweat oozing from our pores boiled under the intense Italian sun, but that did not stop the crowds from gathering. Already, hundreds of fully-garbed nuns, enthusiastic tourists with matching red hats, and patriotic Zambians all wearing homemade outfits in the colors of their flag, swarmed the premises. In a matter of hours, the empty plain of the Circus Maximus overflowed with colorful umbrellas and flags in the hands of 50,000 believers from over 120 countries!

Who are they and why had they come?

As worship escalated for the next three hours, one moment in particular caught my breath. The worship leader paused, inviting Holy Spirit to linger. Songs began erupting spontaneously throughout the crowds and fifty thousand voices lifted up their heavenly language as one. The sound, unlike anything I have ever heard, struck awe in my heart. The power of that moment electrified me. This must be a glimpse of heaven. I could not worship myself for gazing at the upturned faces around me, lifted in such reverence to Him. Crucifixes dangled from their necks, blinking in the sun. These were Catholics. You know, that one sect of Christianity that us evangelicals deny their salvation and speculate that their leader may be the anti-Christ. I’ve heard such statements from those who call themselves “the Church.” And it grieves me. Looking around, I felt at home here in the midst of Catholics who loved the Lord. But how had this happened? You see, God has been moving.

We ask for God to move but He already is.

Fifty years ago, the Holy Spirit began encountering those inside the Catholic Church on a widespread scale. Their hunger and thirst for more of the Lord sparked the Catholic Charismatic Movement that would continue until today. This year, Pope Francis, recognizing the significance of this movement within the church orchestrated a Jubilee celebration of these fifty years since the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit. He invited charismatic Catholics from all around the world to converge in Rome in the first week of June for a commemoration celebration. In announcing this Jubilee celebration, Pope Francis made two significant statements. The first declared his heart intent to have not only Catholics join, but for other denominations to participate as well. A call for unity. The second urged all Catholics to pray for another outpouring of the Holy Spirit, even as this celebration coincided with the first outpouring at Pentecost.

What does a movement in the Catholic Church have to do with us?

The Word promises that Yeshua will one day return for His Bride. As we see the signs of the times and recognize that this day is on the horizon, we also must recognize that He is not coming for a fragmented, and divisive Bride, but one who is united in her desire for Him. Today, we see many ugly divisions within the Bride of Christ and even animosity between one denomination and the next. Any direction you look, you can find negativity, back-biting, competition and criticism tearing apart His Bride and destroying any influence we might have had over our cities.But the Lord’s ultimate plan is to “unite all things in Him,” [Eph 1:10] and as that day approaches, I believe we will see—we must see—unity restored in the Church, between all those who call on His name. And it is the responsibility of the Church to humble herself to embrace that unity.

We can expect nothing less than for the God of the universe to respond.

Looking around at the upturned faces and mouths uttering the beautiful praise of our Savior, I understood this: these are my brothers and sisters. Their expression may look a little different. They may still wear their white collars, nun habits, and crucifixes, but we are family united in the Messiah. This truly was an historic moment for an evangelical missionary from a Messianic Jewish ministry to join my heart in worship with my Catholic brothers and sisters. Pope Francis has taken a stand for unity, urging his flock to cry out for the Holy Spirit, and asking other denominations to join in that cry. God is doing something unprecedented in this time to restore unity. Will we join in that call?

Scriptures say “… if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” [Matthew 18:19-20] We celebrate the one and two that do gather. But when we see 50,000 uniting with one voice to cry out for another outpouring of the Spirit, we can expect nothing less than for the God of the universe to respond! It is an unprecedented call from the Catholic corner. Let there be an unprecedented response! His Bride is coming together, heralding the soon return of the Lord. And He is eagerly waiting.

By: Alicia Grove

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Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Joshua Ratliff says:

    This is fantastic! So exciting. God is so good! Hey so, I was wondering if there is a way to contact those involved in writing the article? Any chance anyone knows how to do that?

  • J says:

    While I’m glad that some Catholics are encountering Holy Spirit, many of us bible believing Charismatics and Pentecostals are growing in our concern over the present movement. In a day when the ecumenical movement it rising, and Charismatic leaders are doing photo shoots with the Pope and kissing priests feet like at the Call, it is imperative that we stand on the Word and not be given solely to the idea of unity at the cost the fundamental truths found in scripture. It is true that the current pope supports unity but seeks that unity amongst all religions. Not only that but the unity he seeks also seems to be one of Charismatics and Pentecostals coming home… that is submission to the authority of the Catholic Church. There was a reason for the reformation, there is a reason that there has always been Christians that recognize the dangers of the Catholic system. There is a reason that Catholics persecuted those that insisted on adult baptism etc. Finally, I’d just like to state that many of the people that financially partner with me through Modern Day would likely be concern over this issue. That being said, I no wish to offend but am simply bring this controversial issue to the forefront.

  • Brent Vermillion says:

    Since that move of God fifty years ago during the charismatic movement the Catholic church’s response has varied greatly from stopping charismatic movements on local levels, as was the case at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, to encouraging them greatly. The Catholic church still prohibits non-catholics from taking communion for example. How does this reflect on the Pope’s so called call for unity. Further, what would be the cost of this unity? I am all for my brothers and sisters who are born again Catholics but I still cannot be in favor of erroneous doctrine regarding Mary and the Saints and extra, non-canonical books in their Bible. I can join with them in unity in a meeting like this but I cannot be in agreement with them on very significant issues. Further, in almost all strongholds of Catholicism such as Spain, Italy, etc. it is the Catholic church who persecutes the protestant or evangelical church to this very day. (I was a missionary in Spain for almost 30 years and this space would be to small for me to tell the stories of catholic persecution against the evangelical church and specific persecution by catholics of people who converted by being born again in evangelical churches. The sad truth is that most Catholics (like most Anglicans and Lutherans) have not been born again and do not know Christ. This article is good but it only covers what is essentially a fringe movement that has been barely tolerated for 50 years within the Catholic church. What about the hundreds of millions who have gone to hell while clinging on to infant baptism and confirmation in the Catholic church as their salvation without ever being saved or born again? I am glad the author had a great and real experience but it in no way should stop us from looking at the reality that the vast majority of the world’s catholics are lost and without Christ even though they are in the church. This is true for most nominal Christians. They are still a very real mission field. I am sure most Modern Day missionaries working in Latin America and other majority Catholic countries could attest to this too.

  • Andi says:

    I’m a convert to the Catholic Church from a non-denominational background. It’s a beautiful church with a depth of faith I was surprised to find. We all love the Lord and He is bigger than our differences. That experience described does sound like a glimpse of what Heaven will be like. God is so good.

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