The Burning Bush Initiative – A Return to the Upper Room
THE SURPRISES OF PENTECOST 2004with Pope John Paul II
Morning of the eve of Pentecost 2004 was dawning and with anticipation in my heart, I was awaiting to see what surprises of the Holy Spirit would be given to the People of God. The Burning Bush Initiative was imparted by the Holy Spirit during Holy Week 1997 and now 7 years later on the Feast of Pentecost the fruits of this grace as promoted by Renewal of the Holy Spirit was to be encouraged by the Holy Father in a public way.
In anticipation of what was to come I began reflecting back on the faithfulness of God throughout this journey. First, Archbishop Jean Chabbert, Bishop Emeritus of Perpignan, who has accompanied and directed my every step along this prophetic journey as the Burning Bush Initiative unfolded, would constantly remind me, “the Church is in need of continued renewal, to rekindle the “burning bush” of the Spirit, which“ gave birth to it on the day of Pentecost. A Pentecost not only of a moment, of a day, but a permanent Pentecost, according to the intuition of the 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. A Pentecost, which must reach not only the Church but the whole world in which man has lost his identity as a creature of God. The world needs to come back to God and it will only be able to do so through prayer. Indeed, prayer is the first duty of the baptized: to adore, to praise, to intercede, to give thanks. And of all prayers, the Eucharist is the central pillar. We must not forget that if the Cenacle of Jerusalem was the place where the great Pentecost took place, first of all it was where Jesus established the Eucharist and the ministerial priesthood. Isn’t the “burning bush” actually the Eucharist, which the Holy Spirit makes present, in every Mass, in the mystery of the Passover of the Lord?”
In the heart of the Church in Rome - Easter Triduum 1997 - alone in the Chapel of the Renewal in the Holy Spirit, my heart was impregnated with the vision of a call to the People of God to “return to the Upper Room / Cenacle in adoration and intercession”. This began a time of serving the Renewal in the Holy Spirit to kindle a blazing on-going fire of prayer to transform anew this chapel into a deeper reality of its vocation as a Burning Bush. It was a time in the shelter of this chapel, in a protected abode, where I would spend nine months as the vision deepened and expanded, grasping that this call was for all, beyond the boundaries of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, a call to the whole Church. A time where in this chapel, Salvatore Martinez and I would dream, hope, wait for charismatic prayer to set fire to the world and renew the Church.
The first six months of 1998, I continued to remain in Rome, now with a second task added: to prepare a special three-month Pentecost project of prayer for the great Pentecost Vigil with the Holy Father and the ecclesial movements and new communities. It was the Renewal in the Holy Spirit groups of the region of Lazio in Italy that carried the project in Rome as I criss-crossed the region. Also united in prayer for this project were leaders of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Germany and other European countries.
By autumn of that year, my bishop requested I begin putting into writing the journey the Holy Spirit had led us on. This pilgrimage now had a name. In the beginning of April 1999, the first version of Burning Bush, A Return to the Upper Room in Adoration and Intercession in English was presented to the leaders in the European meeting of Catholic Charismatic National Service Committees. Furthermore the book was sent to various leaders around the world. At the end of April, the Italian edition was presented by Renewal in the Holy Spirit at their national conference in Rimini and by autumn 1999 the German translation was available for the German-speaking Renewal leadership.
However the vision was not complete until the Holy Father brought his message to us in his Apostolic Letter of 2001, Novo Millennio Ineunte, “Our Christian communities must become genuine “schools” of Prayer, where meeting with Christ is expressed not just in imploring help but also in thanksgiving, praise, adoration, contemplation, listening and ardent devotion, until the hearer truly “falls in love”…It was Peter who spoke the word of faith: “At your word I will let down the nets.” 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.
A revised version of the book was completed in February 2001 and is now published in six languages. However it was not just writing that was being asked of me by my Bishop but also that I carry and promote the Burning Bush Initiative internationally beginning in 1999. I have visited 4 continents and over 20 countries, with at least that many more countries being touched by the vision. I have predominantly served in the context of the Catholic Charismatic National Service Committees, especially sharing this vision at their conferences, also writing many articles that have been published world-wide. The call of the Burning Bush contains a common vision that will have many varied applications by the various structures responding to it, whether it is parishes, or on diocesan or city-wide level, or ecclesial movements or new communities. A first international three-week residential “School of Intercession” was held in the summer of 2000, at the German center of International Catholic Program of Evangelization (ICPE), which Esther Fong and I co-led. It was in this season that I was led to challenge the groups to special prayer projects for the Pentecost Novena 2001, various Renewal realities responded: i.e. Paris - city-wide, Austria - nation-wide.
In Italy, Salvatore Martinez, chairman of Renewal in the Holy Spirit presented a paper entitled “Preparing for Pentecost 2001”, a proposal: “Return to the Upper Room” to the Bishops of Italy. This proposal which was launched in April at their national conference, had been sent to John Paul II at the end of the Holy Year. In 2002, Salvatore wrote a pastoral book “Per un Roveto Ardente di Preghiera, suggerimenti per un’animazione spirituale” (For a Burning Bush of Prayer, suggestions for a spiritual application). He states in his introduction, “This little book – which leads back to Kim’s book – is to be a further stimulus and a practical help in spreading the “chance” afforded by the Burning Bush as an “instrument of New Evangelization”. …In these past few years we have experienced in Italy, in various ways and for various reasons, the blessings that accompany the spreading of the Burning Bush: regional and diocesan meetings, vigils, weekends, triduums, weeklong retreats, all imbued with prayer renewed in its ardor. The Burning Bush is closely tied to the spirituality of the Renewal and brings about for the Renewal itself a new astonishment at the presence and the action of the Spirit. However, we wish for this initiative to be propagated and promoted more and more as a “grace of reawakening” of prayer in the Spirit, which is a heritage of the entire Church, and not just of our own Movement.”
At the European conference “Europe, put out into the Deep” in Poland 2002, organized by European sub-committee of ICCRS, of which I am a member, I led an evening entitled “ Return to the Upper Room”, as well as a workshop where various testimonies were given of the Pentecost Burning Bush 2001 events by France, Germany, Italy and Austria. Another step taken in this journey was in Budapest, March 2003, at a meeting organized by the European sub-committee of ICCRS for representatives of Catholic Charismatic National Service Committees and National Contacts. Here the decision was taken for the European Catholic Charismatic Renewal to link together in a united European effort for Pentecost, according to how the Holy Spirit would lead each respective country in this common goal. This European Pentecost Prayer Project (promoted night and day, where possible) inspired by the Burning Bush Initiative for a novena to the Holy Spirit from Ascension to Pentecost - for three major intentions for Europe: Renewal of the Church, Unity of Christianity and the Renewal of European Society (evangelization and social). The national representatives committed to promote this call of prayer, thereby uniting European Renewal in a common effort for Pentecost in 2003 and 2004. Looking forward, my international travels will take me this summer to the National Catholic Charismatic Conferences in America, France and Austria; believing in faith that the Lord will multiply many promoters of the Burning Bush Initiative, for His glory and as a special grace for all responding.
Finally the hour had arrived, 18.00, Saturday, May 29, 2004, and we were assembled in St. Peter’s Square for the Celebration of First Vespers of Pentecost. During the Holy Father’s homily his word filled my heart with great joy, what a wonderful surprise he had given to the Church and the world:
“I greet in a special way the members of Renewal in the Spirit, one of the various branches of the great family of the Catholic Charismatic Movement. 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.
In this regard, I encourage the initiative known as "Burning Bush", promoted by Renewal in the Spirit. It is about incessant adoration, day and night, before the Blessed Sacrament; it is an invitation to the faithful to "return to the Upper Room", so that, united in contemplation of the Eucharistic Mystery, they may intercede for full Christian unity and for the conversion of sinners. I warmly hope that this initiative will lead many to rediscover the gifts of the Spirit, whose original source is Pentecost.”
Kim Catherine-Marie Kollins
back to English homepage