Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord's Supper in Revival

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9780310245674: Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord's Supper in Revival

A study of how and why the sacramental elements, especially the Lord’s Supper, give stability to revivalsThis biblical and historical approach to revivals argues that the pattern for revival needs to combine the charismatic experience with the sacraments—especially the Lord’s Supper. The sacraments express God’s faithfulness and covenant nature. They also enhance and strengthen revivals and give them a stability that moderates the tendency toward individualism and antinomianism--two elements that often mar modern revival movements.

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About the Author:

William L. De Arteaga grew up in a devout Catholic home. After drifting away into atheism, he returned to the church, this time to a charismatic Episcopal church. He is an ordained priest of the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches and an adjunct professor of church history at Logos Christian College and Graduate School in Florida. The author of Quenching the Spirit, he is in demand as a speaker. The relationship between revivals and the sacraments is a topic he continues to present, always with enthusiastic reception.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

SACAREMENTAL SPIRITUALILY WITHOUT REVIVAL: TRADITIONAL CATHOLICISM 1 A CHEST FULL OF SUNDRIES I looked on with both sadness and pride and helped when I could. I was eleven years old, and my sister, nineteen, was packing a travel chest full of sundries such as toothpaste, bar soap, and writing paper. This was part of the requirements to enter the novitiate and become a Sister of Charity, a Catholic nun. At the time (1954) entering postulants were expected to bring this kit of basic supplies (waved in case of family poverty). The sundries kit was a residue from the Middle Ages, when women brought a partial dowry to the convent as a sign that the family was not avoiding the cost of marrying her off. My aunt had provided dozens of tubes of toothpaste, an awful-tasting brand that has long since been discontinued. My sister, Gloria, bought most of the other supplies with the money she earned from the part-time job she held while attending school. As I looked on, I secretly hoped that when the tubes were all squeezed out, the mother superior would somehow send her back home. Gloria had served as a "co-mother" to me, and I knew that although we would visit, I would miss her terribly. Gloria entered the novitiate with thirty-nine other young women at Mount Saint Vincent College (New York), where over 150 others were being formed into Catholic nuns. The basic program lasted three or four years, depending on the educational level of the postulant. The Sisters of Charity had been founded in the nineteenth century by Mother Elizabeth Seaton (now declared a saint), and they were dedicated to teaching and nursing. My sister’s admitted aversion to blood precluded the nursing vocation. My sadness was mixed with pride at having a sister who would be part of the spiritual elite of the church. We had repeatedly heard from the sisters and brothers in our parochial school that the vocation to the religious life was the highest (and most difficult) calling of life. I had thoughts that I too might someday follow into the religious life and become a teaching brother or priest. This happened less than fifty years ago. Yet it seems as if it took place on a different planet. We Catholics assumed that the church would go on unchanged from antiquity, its doctrines and theology stable and established since the Middle Ages by the great theologians of that era. The Roman Catholic Church had survived the Reformation, whereas the Protestant world was hopelessly divided by denominations and factions within denominations. In our view of the Protestant world, we saw little but weak belief among the more liberal denominations and rampant emotionalism among the fundamentalists. The Pentecostals were written off as cultic and beyond the pale of consideration. All this disorder in the Protestant world was caused, we believed, by not having the pope and the stability of Catholic doctrine to lead them. If anyone had predicted the present state of the Catholic Church at the beginning of the twentieth-first century, we would have assumed the revelation to be an absurd, demonic lie. Novitiates empty? Church attendance down to less than 30 percent of baptized Catholics? Theological factions among the bishops and priests? Theological liberalism and faithlessness in the seminaries? Catholic colleges and universities where the doctrines of the church were more often ignored and ridiculed than taught? Nonsense! That could never be! And yet it is true. It happened in our lifetime. SACRAMENTAL SPIRITUALITY AND CATHOLIC CHILDHOOD IN THE 1950S My family lived through this transition from traditional piety to the current pluralistic form of Catholicism. In the 1920s my parents’ families had been next-door neighbors in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. Both families practiced the nominal Catholicism so common to middle class Hispanics of that era. My father was orphaned when he was twelve and sent off to a Catholic (Christian Brothers) boarding school in Plattsburgh, New York. There the brothers fostered in him a devout Catholicism that he never abandoned. He met my mother again in 1929 in New York City, where her family had immigrated after the death of her father. My mother and father married in 1931 and established their home in Manhattan, in a neighborhood that was predominantly Irish Catholic. On a rainy Sunday morning, during their first year of marriage, my father set out for mass, but my mother refused to accompany him. He commented as he left, "If you don’t go to church the devil will take your soul!" My mother stayed home but literally quaked from fright while my father was at mass. She never missed Sunday mass after that. Gloria, their second child, was the only girl. She was born critically ill and not expected to survive. Mother, by now more devout, prayed desperately, "Lord, if you allow her to live, I will give her completely to you." She lived, and God accepted the vow. When Gloria was in the second grade, she approached mother and asked meekly, "Can you give me two hundred dollars when I’m eighteen?" My mother asked why, and she answered, "I need the money to become a nun." She had just heard that novices need to take into the con-vent several years’ supply of sundries—about two hundred dollars’ worth. We all went to the parochial school adjacent to our church, the Church of the Incarnation. Already in the 1950s there was a tremendous moral and behavioral gap with the local public schools. Catholic schools were safe, disciplined sanctuaries of moral education and learning. In contrast, New York public schools were suffering from the natural by-product of secular humanism: purposelessness, crime, and vandalism.

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