Burning Bush Experiences in different countries
“Burning Bush” Experiences - Introduction
“Oh, if only…unanimous and fervent prayers could be raised to Heaven in every part of Christendom, as they were one in the Cenacle [upper room] of Jerusalem for a rekindling of the Divine Spirit” Blessed Elena Guerra”.
Many testimonies have arisen about “Burning Bush” Experiences, which is an invitation “to return to the Cenacle” in adoration and intercession. A return not of nostalgia, looking for the beginning experiences of the CCR but with a servant’s heart, a maturity, with a heart understanding what it is to experience the power of the Spirit and His gifts in prayer, in united contemplation of the Eucharistic mystery. Our challenge is to intercede beyond what is so often our normal scope of prayer – family, friends, our group or community to incessant adoration and where we may intercede by means of the Spirit with great fervor for the renewal of the Church, full Christian unity and the conversion of sinners, a renewal of society and thereby “a renewal of the face of the earth, uniting ourselves with the intentions of the Holy Father.
The Burning Bush Initiative desires to help the people of God experience a Pentecost not only of a moment or a day, but a permanent Pentecost, according to the intuition of Blessed Elena Guerra who, at the end of the nineteenth century, urged Pope Leo XIII to lead the Church back to the Cenacle/Upper Room of Jerusalem, for the Church to be enlightened again and again and burn like a Burning Bush. It is a response to Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter, Novo Millennio Ineunte, “As this millennium begins, allow the successor of Peter to invite the whole Church to make this act of faith, which expresses itself in a renewed commitment to prayer” and the Holy Father’s invitation and encouragement at the, Solemn Vespers of Pentecost 2004, “Thanks to the Charismatic Movement, many Christians, men and women, youths and adults, have rediscovered Pentecost as a living and present reality in their daily life. I desire that the spirituality of Pentecost be spread in the Church, as a renewed thrust of prayer, holiness, communion and proclamation… sincerely desire that this initiative lead many to rediscover the gifts of the Spirit, which have their source in Pentecost”, (see ICCRS newsletter, special issue July/August 2004).
This initiative had spread throughout the world, in Europe, Far East, Africa, the Americas etc., since it’s beginning during Easter in Rome, 1997. The call of the “Burning Bush” contains a common vision that has many varied applications by the various structures responding to it, whether it is parishes, or on diocesan or citywide level, or ecclesial movements or new communities. The Holy Spirit’s leading has been varied and different in the concepts of the “Burning Bush” Pentecost Novena and “Burning Bush” Events, with each experience having its own uniqueness.
It was first in Europe where the promotion of the “Burning Bush” Pentecost Novena intensely began, with three groups responding to the call for Pentecost in 2001, Renewal in the Spirit (RnS), Italy; the National Service Committee (NSC) of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) in Austria and St. Leu, a French Parish in Paris. All groups have continued now for the last 4 years. In the European ICCRS-conference in Czestochowa (Poland, 2002), we had an intercession workshop with testimonies from each country, where they shared their 2001-2002 experiences of the “Burning Bush” Pentecost Novenas. It was the testimony of the Bologna group of RnS that was given. Also Belgium and Germany began their nationwide promotion of the Pentecost Novena in 2002, as well as other countries. In Poland, the call of “Burning Bush” was launched December 2003, at the VII Charismatic Forum organized by the Jesuits’ groups of Lodz and with the publishing of the book by Kim Kollins, Burning Bush, Return to the Upper Room. At Pentecost 2004, they gathered in the church every evening for adoration that lasted 2 hours. Since, there are four CCR groups in the parish, the different groups would lead the adoration and intercession. There was at least 400 people present every evening. The European CCR National Service Committees have linked together since 2003 in a united effort to promote the Pentecost Novena in each country.
The German CCR Young Council implemented the “Burning Bush Experience” into their youth work in 2004, at their “Jump”, youth conference. They organized “Burning Bush” Prayer Vigils at their leaders' gatherings before hand and during their conference held a “Burning Bush” Tent of Prayer event (night and day). At their fall, youth leaders meeting, they deepen the theme of the Burning Bush call and initiated a “Burning Bush” prayer campaign called Operation Trailblazer 2005, for the CCR National Conference and the World Youth Day.
An upcoming event will be held in Miami this Pentecost, 2005 Cenacle of Prayer of America. During this Year of the Eucharist, a “return to the Cenacle” is planned, where 40 hours of Eucharistic adoration and intercession for America, including an Eucharist procession through downtown Miami. It will end with a grand celebration of Pentecost “to invoke upon ourselves and upon the entire church, an abundant outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit” Pope John Paul II invitation to Pentecost Solemn Vespers, 2004). It will include the USA, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America, all responding to the Holy Fathers invitation “I invite individuals, communities and ecclesial groups…to strengthen s through prayers the spiritual bond between all American Catholics”.(Ecclesia in America,76) (www.nsc-chariscenter.org )
For this reason, I also say to you: "Open yourselves with docility to the gifts of the Holy Spirit! Receive with gratitude and obedience the charisms that the Spirit does not cease to offer! Do not forget that all charisms are given for the common good, that is, for the benefit of the whole Church!" Pope John Paul II, Pentecost Vespers, 2004
In October 2002, the Austrian National Service Committee of the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church invited Kim Kollins to a leadership conference to speak about the roots of the Charismatic Renewal and “Burning Bush” Initiative. She explained that Blessed Elena Guerra, influenced Pope Leo XIII to write an encyclical about the Holy Spirit, had the vision that the church should pray a novena (a nine days prayer) to ask the Holy Spirit for the Unity of Christianity. Blessed Elena’s focus was unity and renewal of the church and the society and evangelization. It took hundred years to discover that God still wants us to attend the Upper Room to seek the Lord and ask Him for a New Pentecost.
This fell on the hearts of nearly all leaders. So we started three projects:
1. The diocesan leaders asked the prayer groups to join them in a prayer of nine days including night prayer. Everybody was asked to take over one or two hours per day or night to pray. The diocesan team gave them bible verses concerning the Holy Spirit to contemplate them.
2.The second project was led by the National Service Committee. We invited a small group of about six people, which stayed together with us for nine days in a retreat house. We chose Salzburg because it lies in the middle of Austria. Intercessors or leaders were allowed to join the group but they had to decide to stay for at least a whole day.
In the morning we started with bible study and
In the afternoon: intercession – praying in tongues in the subjects: unity, renewal and evangelization.
In the evening we shared what we had experienced in a feedback and asked the Lord for guidance for the next day.
3. The third project started in Vienna, 9 times per year. A group met in the afternoon for bible study and intercession. This will be extended 9 times per year for a whole day including Eucharist and adoration. Because we have 9 dioceses we chose every capital of our dioceses as a venue. A group of the diocese leaders and two persons of the national service committee are responsible to organize this day.
In the first year of our nine days prayer (2001) Kim Kollins joined for two days and encouraged us to pray that Salzburg will be a door for evangelization as it was in the beginning of Christianity in our country.
2003 we spent the nine days prayer in Upper Austria from 30th of May till 8th of June.
Belgium: Burning Bush Experiences: 9 Days of Intercession Prayer for the Nation
Belgium is a small federal country of 10 million inhabitants with three language groups, French-, Dutch- and German speaking, which differ widely in political terms.
From the outset the Charismatic Renewal in Belgium was strongly supported by Belgian Cardinal Suenens.
For several years Charismatic brothers and sisters from the three language communities have been meeting to pray and follow God’s will.
So it was that all Christians (especially those from prayer groups) convened to celebrate together the Feast of Pentecost in 2002: some 1500 people gathered « one of heart and soul » at the Brussels Basilica on Pentecost Monday around the Cross of Jesus that unites all men. Cardinal Danneels presided over this joyful and prayerful assembly, inviting everyone to welcome the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
In 2003, prayer induced the multilingual core group to organise a novena from Ascension to Pentecost. Every day on a 24 hrs basis, a diocese adored and worshipped that faith might be restored in Belgium; a candle was carried from one diocese to another. Testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit could be seen in reconciliation prevailing over former misunderstandings and bringing greater faith and unity.
In 2004, the Lord continued watching over and leading His people. The Charismatic core group thus felt in prayer that the Lord Himself wanted to sew together different pieces of cloth to make one single garment, namely Jesus’ robe.
Throughout the year, the Lord led us through His Word. We met the challenge of running nine days of prayer (the word novena seemed old-fashioned) for revival in Belgium by designing a single poster in the three national languages, a single prayer book with the prophecies of the year, and prayers based on the Holy Father’s « Ecclesia in Europa ». Every day in a town from each diocese, nine services united local Christians, parishes, prayer groups, communities, sometimes around the local bishop, sometimes with brothers and sisters of other movements or confessions. « The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light rising » (Is 9, 1) Yes, a praying people has risen. Local radios and Christian magazines relayed what was an achievement: a Belgium-wide drive that bridged every language barrier. The Lord really allowed each one to understand the message, regardless of their mother tongue! The Holy Spirit is at work shaping His people.
In 2005, a similar
country-wide event will be proposed: common prayer will unite all the dioceses
around the Eucharist since in this year we are “sent to celebrate”.
Residents of several homes have already expressed the wish to participate in the 9 days of prayer and will receive prayer books. We pray that the Holy Spirit will spread graces throughout the country.
(written by the chairpersons of French and Flemish speaking Belgium, Françoise Huybrechts and Marc Meirsman; March 2005)
A Burning Bush - Upper Room Experience in a French parish in Paris (France)
On Saturday May 29, 2004, the pope declared during the vespers of Pentecost : "Thanks to the Charismatic Movement, a multitude of Christians, men and women, young people and adults have rediscovered Pentecost as a living reality in their daily lives. I hope that the spirituality of Pentecost will spread in the Church as a renewed incentive to prayer, holiness, communion and proclamation" (3).
In 2001 when we asked our priest Denis Trinez whether he would agree to live this experience of the Upper Room/Burning Bush according to the triple demand of Sister Elena Guerra for intercession ( ), and such as Kim Kollins shared it with us for three years, we did not know how far this project would be leading the members of our parish, and beyond.
THIS DOCUMENT WILL THUS TRY TO SHOW THE GRADUAL TAKING-TO-HEART OF THE BURNING BUSH INITIATIVE BY A PARISH COMMUNITY.
How did we manage the experience ?
2001 – Baby steps
The first year, with the agreement of our priest, we opened the church from 9am to 10pm during the nine days between Ascension and Pentecost. With Sr. Hubert-Dominique Dufour o.p. who bore this project, we wondered whether we would be able to hold on all this time ! As we did not want this experience to be too heavy on the parish community, we asked the charismatic prayer groups of Paris and area to come and help us.
This first year, each day was divided into periods of praise, intercession and adoration. At 6:30pm, we would have the usual Eucharist and, in the evening, at about 8:30pm, a time of prayer supported by the parish prayer group during which a specific teaching on the Holy Spirit was given each evening.
Day after day, during the times of praise and intercession, the prophecies and the words of God showed us the importance of our call. We had to go deeper down and visit the sin structures of the society, of the Church and of our families. Intercession showed us the importance of remaining in these dark places and at the same time it revealed its power to us.
After this first year, the experiment was so important that when we read it over with the parish council, we were led to ask ourselves how the parish could go further into it.
2002, the first invitation to the parish
The second year, in 2002, the pastoral council decided that the experience of the Upper Room would give room to each reality of the parish for a time of prayer from 4:30pm to 5:30pm followed by a time of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the Eucharist.
That year, sharing this experience of prayer with the various components of the parish was very positive and a mutual source of joy : we all discovered how powerful the prayer of each member of the parish was.
2003, the same experience again
That year, we renewed the same interactivity, with, in the evenings, a time of teaching on the theme of "Mary and the Holy Spirit,. Mary, Master of spiritual life".
2004, complete change, or “ Duc in altum “
When the parish council decided to go on in 2004 with the Cenacle project, the members realised this could not be done without a deep modification of the process.
The argument within the pastoral council was:
1. How can people involved in the various parish activities feel concerned by the Upper Room and a necessary part of it if they intervene only for one hour during the nine days ?
2. Could we challenge the parish that the Upper Room project was worth giving it at least three evenings during the novena ?
3. Would we agree to try and live this time of Upper Room not like “a shop-window of my activities” but as a time of communion when the only important thing to look for is the friendship with the Holy Spirit, leaving aside what I am doing in the parish ?
4. How could we arouse the interest of the parish members for this spirituality of communion ?
5. Would the various activities present during the evenings accept to leave its place to the prayer group who was in charge of the whole project ?
The whole pastoral council believed in this possible interactivity and invited each reality of the parish to lead one evening meeting. The later evaluation was more than positive. For instance, this testimony :
The Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Saint Leu were the first to live this Upper Room novena : Friday is the day of their usual Eucharist for the Holy Land For that evening . they had prepared texts on, and prayers to, the Holy Spirit After a time of praise and the singing of the Veni Creator, we had a long meditation on the Litanies of the Holy Spirit. All along the evening, we were blessed with a keen listening of the texts read to us and with a charismatic capacity of heightening their appreciation through songs “ tailored to them “. We had a very deep time of adoration of the Blessed Sacrement after the reading of a text by Charles de Foucauld . and a real outpouring of the Holy Spirit during the reading of a text by St Jean-Marie Vianney ( le Curé d’ Ars ) : “It is the Holy Spirit who shapes the thoughts in the hearts of the just and who engenders the words in their mouths. Those who have the Holy Spirit produce nothing that is bad ; all fruit of the Holy Spirit are good… When one has the Holy Spirit, the heart opens up and is flooded with Divine Love “. At the end of the evening a Lady of the Holy Sepulchre said that this evening was for her "like Heaven on earth".
Were we not living the spirituality of communion? What was a gift for this lady was one for us also, was it not ? I could, of course give examples over each day, but what I would like to underline here is that the Charismatic grace of the Renewal in such a parish context largely contributes to highlight and develop the proper grace of each person.
Moreover, having accepted this year “ to lose - in a way - our charismatic grace“, led us to experience the challenge of the Holy Father's words at the Pentecost vespers ( quoted at the beginning of this text). In spite of many difficulties, "the game is worth the candle".
By Sr. Hubert-Dominique Dufour o.p.and
by the fire of intercession:
Young people experiencing the "Burning-Bush-Initiative"
The Youth of CCR (CEJ) in Germany organises every year a big national Youth gathering called JUMP. With half of the participiants being "new ones" (not yet in touch with anything related to CCR, lots of them even not religious at all) JUMP has an evangelistic focus.
The coworkers of the CCR-Youth in Germany come from the various prayer-groups and youth-weekend-initiatives throughout the nation and are almost all young people themselves. Starting at one of these local initiatives (called FCKW, youth-Germany) following the leader's personal contact with Kim Kollins models and thoughts of the BBI were implantated into the Youth-work. Especially in preparation for August 2004's JUMP the young coworkers were led into a "Burning-Bush-model" of intercession.
1. At the preparation-weekend in June the preachings focussed on "having greater expectations". A historical line was drawn from the beginning of the CCR, the BBI and the new emphasis on charisms and intercession which come along with it to the beginning of the Youth-initiatives in the CCR of Germany and the growing feeling that God wants to put the focus back to these "upper-room-topics" in our groups as well. A preaching on the calling of the "forerunners" challenged the young people to choose a radical lifestyle of holiness, dedicating themselves to prayer, fasting and discipleship. The auditorium responded in an enthusiastic way. Many of them received the gift of speaking in tongues this evening, to be prepared for what came next.
2. In preparation for the JUMP a prayer and fasting chain was formed on this very weekend. On the stage there was a wall with 30 frames representing the 30 days left to the JUMP. There were 6 small tickets to pick at each frame, 3 of them carrying the date and the word "fasting", 3 of them "prayer" - meaning to spend one day of fasting or one day of prayer in intercession for the JUMP. After about 30 seconds all the tickets were gone and the young people started to fast and pray in their homes. Many testimonies came back the following weeks: some experienced fervent zeal for prayer the first time, some started to pray with their prayer groups or met in small groups every morning...
3. In direct preparation for the JUMP a small group of Students dedicated themselves to more intense intercession: 21-day or 3-day fasts, intercession-meetings on an almost daily basis, nightwatches in prayer. They arrived at the JUMP location 3 days before the festival started and did constant intercession on the site.
4. On the 7 days of the JUMP (attracting some 550 participiants) there was a intercession team praying 24 hours a day. Before every program on the stage there was a 15-30 minutes intercession time with everybody involved with the program, just next to the stage.
5. The intercession-team, the councelling-team and the priests met everyday to share their impressions and feelings on what God is doing and where the spirit is leading. These informations immediately were forwarded to the leaders.
6. After having JUMPs since 1995 this year’s festival still was unique in the feeling of the significance of God’s working. There were more conversions, more healings in soul and body (especially during the sacrament of reconciliation) and a stronger sensation of Gods presence then in all the meetings before. On the last evening there were so many young people willing to give testimony on what God did this week that the leaders at one point just had to stop them to be able to finish the evening at some point of time - delayed even then.
7. The model of intercession we usually followed is the so called "ABC"-model promulgated by Kim Kollins: A. presenting the meeting to God / person / problem / situation, B. Praying in tongues to let the spirit pray for what he wants to, C. thanksgiving for what God is going to do - always expecting God’s leading in the topics to pray for or his speaking to us in guidance and encouragement.
CEJ had a youth leaders weekend in October 2004, led by Kim. Here the theme of the BBI was enlarged and deepen. The CEJ took the decision to implement the BBI (beginning now) for prayer preparation for the 2005 - German CCR 4 day National Conference (beginning Accession) and a BBI World Youth Day prayer campaign.
CCR- Youth Team – Johannes Hartl
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