Charisma / crystal

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

An interesting aspect of the catholic church that I’m not so familiar with is touched on by this passage … the charismastic renewel movement. It began in the late 60s at universities like Notre Dame – a kind of catholic penticostalism that emphasizes the charisms of the holy spirit.

At the present time in the Catholic Church, these “charismatic” gifts are usually experienced in the context of a prayer meeting … Most of the meeting consists of praising God with spontaneous prayers and with singing. These periods of prayer will be punctuated by scripture reading, sharing, and prayers for the particular needs of individuals. During the meeting the charisms will be exercised, although they do not always play a part. The typical meeting follows St. Paul’s directive: “When you assemble, one has a psalm, another an instruction, a revelation, a tongue, or interpretation. Everything should be done for building up.” [1 Cor 14:26]
– The Catholic Experience of Renewal, Fr. Thomas Foster, S.J – link

While a couple of Popes have embraced the movement, the church wants it clear that discernment is important and that one should not “seek the gifts of the Giver and not the Giver of the gifts.”

I’m not sure how I feel about all of this. It’s confusing … does the holy spirit dwell within us all the time? If so, why does it seem like we are filled with it sometimes, and not others? Why do some people have charisms and others don’t? Why can I believe (mostly) in the passage from Acts in which the apostles are “filled with the spirit” yet not only doubt that people nowdays can have the same experience, but find the idea kind of weird?


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6 responses

  1. I attended a Catholic Charismatic prayer group for a few months back in the 1980s. I never got myself tongue-worthy though. An interesting little group. Women hold the authority for discerning the spirit. Which turns the Catholic business-as-usual upside down. No wonder the Vatican embraces it while being just a tad nervous.The love the Giver not the Gifts thing is solid Catholic — and I might say good wisdom. Its why we have to weather Dark Nights of the Soul every once in a while. Paul’s thorn in the flesh relates to this and the author of Cloud of Unknowing also speaks of it. So it isn’t just about the charismatic movement.The charismatic movement seems to hang on the noisy gifts. There’s also the gift of contemplation. A gift the Catholic church and the Quakers seem to share.

  2. Hi David :-).I think my feelings about pentacostalism and “gifts” are colored by an experience I had as a teenager. I had a friend who was a born again christian (I was an atheist), who took me to a traveling prayer meeting under a tent, where the preacher “slayed” people with the holy spirit, and they then spoke in tongues. I found it seriously creepy 🙂

  3. Yes, yes! I attended large charismatic meetings at Georgetown and Catholic U in 1974.Much like a Quaker meeting: no apparent leaders; everyone sitting in a circle– about six rows deep.Silence, then someone rose, gave a sober witness of what God had done in his/her life; more silence. Someone started sort of humming: ummmm; someone else took it up in a harmonic key, several keys, all in harmony: it was beautiful.Meanwhile I had had considerable experience with Methodist charismatics, especially a bunch of preachers. One of them said that he was reported to speak in tonques, but the D.S. said he could hardly speak English.I didn’t find them very enticing, although one was my best friend, and practically role model at the time.Joe was a traveler; he had gone to Columbia with a Jesuit from Notre Dame (was it Father McHugh, or something like that). They had started a pentecostal revival down there.Today a large minority of the Latin American population are Pentecostals.As far as I’m concerned, they are a perfectly legitimate expression of the church. The movement began early in the 20th century among the lower ‘classes’, like most denominations have. It was in or near CA as I recall.It has gradually spread for the last century into a lot of denominations. Today there are Catholic, Episcopal, Quaker?, Presbyterian, Lutheran charismatics as well as a number of pentecostal oriented denominations. They are our Christian siblings.

  4. Correction: the priest was Francis McNutt, and I find reference to him in this article about the The Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

  5. Hi Larry – thanks for the info. It’s strange, but I don’t remember anything about the renewal movement when I was going to church. I don’t know if that’s because my church didn’t have a group or if I just wasn’t paying attention.

  6. Hello all (and thanks for your message Crystal)I am around, even if inactive here…..I am still much involved in a course I am doing which gives me no time for blogging and other civilised pursuits. Look forward to returning to some kind of calm and free time in the next couple of months.

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