Renewal is on the increase in the Church. At St George's Cathedral, Southwark, a number of seminars were held. Here some of the participants describe how they have "come alive".
Maureen Evans, of Chislehurst, Kent, wrote: "I was drawn into the Charismatic Renewal about 18 months ago through the back door. At that time I didn't feel there was anything missing in my spiritual life because, frankly, it was virtually non-existent.
"I attended Mass weekly and occasionally during the week. I had great faith and trust in God, but He was up there and unreal to me.
"In August, 1976, my mother had a stroke and was completely paralysed down one side of her body and was unable to talk or drink properly. She underwent an operation which, praise the Lord, was successful. Five days after the operation she was home.
"However, her morale was low and she had a problem with her back which she had experienced for years, and it seemed to get worse: And this is where I came across the renewal.
"A friend of my husband told him that her back had been healed as a result of being prayed over by a friend, acting as one of a team. So I contacted my friend and asked if I could bring my mother along to the prayer group to be prayed over.
"Well, my mother was never prayed over but we were so impressed with the "presence of God" during that meeting. In spite of the speaking in tongues and prophesying, etc. I was drawn back, and I now thank God regularly for opening this wonderful door for me. Incidentally, my mother's back is now better — I acted as proxy for her over a period of time.
"I think that the most wonderful thing that has happened since Jesus came alive in my life is my complete happiness as a "Mum" at home. I have three young children — six. five and two. I was married for more than two years before my first child arrived. I was extremely happy at work and it didn't really bother me to think of us without children.
"Looking back, I was work orientated and enjoyed life to the full in the evenings. After the arrival of my first child I was happy but bored — I didn't feel there was much challenge looking after a baby.
"T hen No Two arrived 17 months later and I was kept busy, but still I yearned for an opportunity to get back to work. Three years went by, and I was starting to feel free, looking forward to the younger child going to school so that I could get out of the house to work. In short, I did resent being at home.
"Then No Three arrived, and
it was six months after he was born that I encountered the renewal. Now, all the feelings of resentment, boredom, feeling like a cabbage, etc have gone COMpletely. I realise how important it is to give children love and security.
Mr Laurie Kennedy, of Beckenham. Kent, wrote: "Something happened around March, 1977, and I can only describe it, very inaccurately, as being 'stunned'. it really is a feeling of being taken over, whereby one assents to the Holy Spirit leading one along a path from which there is no turning back.
"Total commitment is a muchused term in renewal. but it literally is a taking over and a making over of one's will.
"Years ago I used to associate spiritual joy with something drastic about to happen so I was prepared in a way for what was to follow.
"There followed, right up to September, a series of trials, and it was only because of the previous build-up combined with the prayers of my group (which I could sense at times) that sustain
ed me. However. the happenings of the past year have convinced me that renewal is really a way of life for me."
Mrs M. Coleman, of Mottingham, London, SE9, wrote: "To start with I experienced a tremendous peace followed by joy. inner healing and physical healing. The Scriptures came alive and the Blessed Trinity became more real to me. I have been transformed and would not miss my weekly prayer for the world. I pray more and praise God more and have had some wonderful answers to prayer.
"I had burdens at work and problems at home. and the good Lord relieved me of these. I have never been so happy before and it certainly feels like being horn again."
The Rev Ralph Essex, minister of Crossway United Reformed Church, London, SW17, wrote: "I got to know about the seminars in Southwark through my deaconess, who attends a prayer meeting with some of the sisters from Southwark Cathedral. "I made no secret of the fact that I am a United Reformed minister and I want to bear witness to the kindness and love I received from everyone. I wondered if we gave enough time to the point where we had the laying on of hands for the receiving of the Spirit. I valued very much the fact that there was a focal point of this kind to work and pray for, as well as a point of expectation.
"May I stress again that, to me, the outstanding experience I shall always treasure was love. At one of the first meetings one of the sisters spoke to me and I told her who I was. She said: 'And you are not afraid?' I answered: 'No. I'm not afraid'. She threw herself into my arms and we embraced each other as if she had found a long-lost brother and I a long-lost sister."
Sister Sarah Bourke, of Honor Oak, London, SE, wrote: "I came to the seminars as one very much searching for something. I wasn't quite clear. I certainly believed I had received the Holy Spirit at Baptism and He was present to me in the sacraments, and despite the fact that I had dedicated my life to God, as a religious, I was very much groping in the dark.
"I had set myself a goal, as it were. I had bridled myself into becoming a "good religious", a good teacher, and I struggled very hard to achieve this. My prayer life was taking on the same struggle. There was really very little joy in my daily prayer. Divine Office had become a duty to me, and sometimes I even neglected it.
"Our Lord has given me a new freedom in almost every dimension of my life, particularly in prayer. What was a duty before and a task has become a necessary joy. Sometimes I am so afire with that joy that I am compelled to pause for a few minutes and rest in the stillness of his love again, or just speak to him in the Spirit.
"He has filled me with a new kind of love for others. Before this, other people's sorrows and burdens weighed heavily down upon me. I found sometimes I avoided people so that I would not get involved in listening.
"Now I can listen with new ears and a new understanding, knowing that when Jesus works in us we do not have to worry, he will give us all the strength that is necessary to carry our burden and others."
Mrs Grace Coldham, of Beddington, Surrey (a grandmother aged 76) wrote: "My real difficulty has always been my inability to pray without distraction. My group prayed for me about this, but nothing seemed to happen. For years I have awakened about two am and my thoughts used to go round until I magnified things out of proportion, "The doctor advised me to have some light reading handy as I refused to take sleeping pills, and this worked quite well. But during the seminar I preferred to read more serious things like religious type books.
"Then I found I didn't want to read: I could just relax and say the Act of Consecration, as God could read my muddled mind quite well. I was able to offer in a sort of uplifting way the people for whom I wanted to pray and then go off to sleep quite relaxed.
"1 realised from one of the talks at the seminars that Our Lord is not away in the distance but here, and then I found it quite easy to talk to him — in my mind, not using words — so I found a lot of peace.