By Charlie Johnston
Last Sunday I enjoyed spending the afternoon with Ralph Martin, Pete Herbeck and Sr. Ann Shields of Renewal Ministries, along with Al Kresta of Ave Maria Radio. It was a wonderful meeting. I have long admired Martin – and wish that all Charismatic Ministries would live it like he does. When they do, it will be an incredibly powerful asset to all the faithful. We chuckled a little about the controversy that is growing around me as we got the picture above…with Herbeck amusedly and wearily figuring that when this picture was published they would be accused of endorsing everything I say. They are wonderful, tireless workers in the Lord’s service and I was grateful to have an afternoon visiting with them. And I love meeting with some of the most substantial people in the work before us – for if they have accomplished something significant, they are well aware of the slings and arrows that go with it – and not terribly intimidated by them. Pray for all the good people working at Renewal Ministries, that their faith may spread and grow.
I am soon going to have to make some changes and re-prioritize a few things here. The swirl of confusion is growing and I think I have to refine a few things in order to effectively help people keep heart as things go deeper and closer to full-Storm mode.
I think right now that my top two priorities are to write for the website and to carry out my missionary journeys. You have been short-changed by my often sparse writing here while I am on the road. Funny thing, my fundamental message is so simple and consistent – acknowledge God, take the next right step, and be a sign of hope to those around you – that I did not think it would take as much writing to underline and emphasize it. I guess there are a lot of facets to it, though. The simplest things often take a lifetime to really learn and live well. The response to my many presentations has been incredible. People are taking real heart from them and resolving to live that simple trust. I see people who came to scoff or set me straight leaving overjoyed all the time. To help raise groups of people all over the country committed to God and to helping each other and others around them…well, it is both a joy and a privilege to participate in that.
Times are getting more dire and intense. Shortly, I am going to put a new “Contact” email address up and remove the old one. I will keep the old one and use it for communication with colleagues, priests, pastors and regional coordinators, but will not leave it published or answer general queries from it. I will get a team of people to respond to questions from the new address (I already have someone in mind to lead the team) and alert me to anything that needs personal attention from me. I am terribly bogged down in emails, which is keeping me from writing as much as I should – as well as keeping me tired all the time – and I am afraid causing me to be unnecessarily sharp in replies sometimes. (The sharpness, of course, is my fault…but there it is.)
Controversies that are now a constant cacophony are about to become a deafening roar. I need to speak with calm clarity as that rises, to cut through the din. Right now, awareness of this site and my work is growing by leaps and bounds. There are several very serious inquiries and examinations I am submitting to – some when I get back home. Some very substantial people have said I am worthy of hearing, more voices are rising in criticism of me, too. There will be more of both as time goes on. Some just react to something they have heard or some snippet they have read and then criticize on ground that are trivial or even false. Some very good people criticize for reasonable reasons. I will have to face judgment for how I handle the work in front of me – and both fans and critics will have to face judgment for how they came to their conclusions. Those who make their critique from honest grounds have nothing to worry about – and in fact will help me refine my own work. Those who do otherwise will have to answer for their own work. My habit in public life has always been to respond to serious, sincere concerns from substantial sources while not getting bogged down in petty or manufactured controversies. Rather, I let my work speak for itself. A lot less work gets done if you busy yourself defending yourself against trivia or falsehoods. So don’t get too upset if you hear someone criticize me – or get too excited if you hear someone praise me. Some good people will criticize me. A very good priest in some authority told me recently that he had a very bad reaction to me for a while – then realized his reaction had very little to do with what I actually had to say, and so listened harder to find the source of his reaction. We parted friends – and fellow workers in the vineyard. In the end, you have to discern. As I once said, if I tell you false, 10,000 theologians praising me will not help me when I stand before God. If I tell you true, 10,000 attacking me will do me no damage when I stand before God. Let us continue to build each other up through fraternal care, correction and encouragement and all will be well.
Today and tomorrow I am in the Chicago area, able to visit old family and friends. I have a car and am able to drive myself. I love my work, but it is great to feel like I have control of my life for a few days…so I am going to indulge myself among family and friends for these few days.
I have the important piece on schism and what it portends, then a piece particularly for priests and pastors. I have been inundated with requests from priests asking for any advice I might have on how they can fully live their responsibility to their people in difficult times. I want to offer what I can, knowing that whether it is helpful or not, the very fact they are taking it so seriously bodes very well for their flocks.
God bless all here – as our friend, CrewDog, likes to say. (I sure am glad he is in our foxhole!)