Father Stefan gives a reflections on the Charisms

One of my prayers is for the renewal of the Church. I pray for it everyday. John XXIII also longed for the renewal of the Church. His prayer for the Second Vatican Council, which he and all the bishops prayed everyday, was “Renew in our own days your miracles as of a second Pentecost; and grant that the Holy Church, reunited in one prayer, more fervent than before, around Mary, the mother of Jesus, and under the leadership of Peter, may extend the kingdom of truth, justice and peace. Amen.”

One of the ways that God is renewing His Church is in the Charismatic Renewal. When most people think of Charismatic Renewal they immediately think of people praying in tongues. Tongues is a gift of the Spirit but only one of the gifts.

If we look at the name “Charismatic Renewal” it is about a renewal of the charisms, of which tongues is only one. Scriptures lists at least 27 of them with no attempt to list them all: deeds of mercy, evangelization, preaching, prayer, administration, along with many others. I think many people associate Charismatic Renewal with tongues when the whole purpose of this grace was to renew the use of all the charisms in the Church. What priest would not be aided by asking for the gift of preaching? But in order to obtain the charism of preaching you first have to ask for it. “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened for you.”

What does the catechism say about them? In paragraphs 799-801 we read, ” Whether extraordinary or simple and humble, charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to her building up, to the good of men, needs of the world. Charisms are to be accepted with gratitude by the person who receives them and by all the members of the Church as well. They are a wonderful rich grace for the apostolic vitality and for the holiness of the entire Body of Christ, provided they really are genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit and are used in full conformity with the authentic promptings of same Spirit, that is, in keeping with charity, the true measure of all charisms. It is in this sense that discernment of charisms is always necessary. No Charism is exempt from being referred and submitted to the Church’s shepherds. Their office is not to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to what is good, so that all diverse and complementary charisms work together for the common good.”

We read from the Second Vatican Decree on the Laity Chapter 1 paragraph 3, ” On all the Christians therefore is  laid the splendid burden of working to make the divine message of salvation known and accepted by all men throughout the world. For the exercise of the apostolate the Holy Spirit who sanctifies the people of God through the ministry and the sacraments gives to the faithful special gifts. (Cor 12:7) To each the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. To one is given through the spirit the expression of knowledge,  to another faith by the same spirit, to another gifts of healing by the same spirit. To another mighty deeds, to another prophecy, to another varieties of tongues, to another interpretation of tongues.”

Charisms are gifts of the Spirit for the building up of the Body of Christ. Why not avail ourselves of all the gifts Jesus wants to give us? Cantalamessa, who is the preacher to the Papal household, says in his book Obedience that before Vatican II the Church was seen as a perfect society. Vatican II moved the Church from being seen as a perfect society to laying more stress on the Church as the Mystery of God, the people of God. One of the problems with viewing the Church as a perfect society is that if something is perfect there is no room for Jesus to intervene and be Lord of Church. Charisms are  the Holy Spirit breaking into our world and surprising us. John Paul II says, “When the Holy Spirit intervenes, he leaves people full of wonder and history changed.”

Some people build a false divide between the sacraments and the charisms. The hierarchical chruch is not in opposition to the charismatic church. The Swiss theologian Balthassar would say it this way: John and Peter form one Church. John is a symbol of the Charismatic Church and Peter is a symbol of the hieractical church. Karl Rahner in his book The Spirit and the Church says ” that in truth there is much more of the charismatic in the hierarchy of the church than ever imagined, do we not refer to the charim of infallibility  in reference to the hierarchical church?”

I often say that you can be a quiet Charismatic. A Charismatic is anyone who is open to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, and prays for the renewal of the Church. The Charisms are one of the vital ways that God wants to renew the Church.

Come Holy Spirit and renew the face of the Earth

Fr Stefan

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