Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS THE CATHOLIC CHARISMATIC RENEWAL?
The Catholic Charismatic Renewal is a movement of spiritual renewal in the Catholic Church that emphasizes the need for each of us to make a personal commitment to Christ and to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. This step or process of making this commitment and receiving the power of the Holy Spirit is usually called “being baptized in the Spirit.” Although not a sacrament like water baptism, “being baptized in the Spirit” frequently helps us put into action the graces received in both baptism and confirmation. We can be “baptized in the Spirit” in the presence of other people as they lovingly pray with us as we make this deeper commitment to the Lord or this experience may happen privately in our prayer time as we commit to God. Many Catholic charismatic prayer groups offer a seminar to help newcomers understand and prepare to be “baptized in the Spirit.” This seminar is usually called “The Life in The Spirit Seminar” and has been used all over the world to help millions of people like yourself to find a deeper relationship with Christ.
Is Charismatic Renewal “Catholic?
A Pastoral Statement on the Catholic Charismatic Renewal by the U. S. Bishops published in 1984 “affirmed again all those Catholics involved in this movement of the Holy Spirit in our day.” They likewise “encouraged efforts of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement in their efforts to renew the life of the Church.”The impact of the Charismatic Renewal on the Church at large has been profound. It has brought personal spiritual renewal to the lives of millions of people and deepened their love for Jesus Christ, the sacraments, the Church, and Scripture. Clergy and laity, young and old, have responded to the call of holiness through the new life and conscious awareness of God’s power and presence through the Holy Spirit.In 1997 “on the occasion of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal’s thirtieth anniversary” we, the U.S. Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, want to affirm again all those Catholics involved in this movement of the Holy Spirit in our day. We, likewise, ‘encourage them in their efforts to renew the life of the Church.’” (Grace for the New Springtime)
Is Baptism in the Spirit the same thing as the Sacrament of Baptism?
Baptism in the Spirit is not a sacrament, but it is related to several sacraments. The Baptism in the Spirit makes real and in a way renews Christian initiation. At the beginning of the Church, baptism was administered to adults who converted from paganism and who, made on the occasion of baptism, an act of faith and a free and mature choice.
Today it is substituted instead by intermediary parents or godparents. In this situation, rarely, or never, does the baptized person ever reach the stage of proclaiming in the Holy Spirit "Jesus is Lord". And until one reaches this point, everything else in the Christian life remains out of focus and immature. Miracles no longer happen and we experience what Jesus did in Nazareth: "Jesus could not perform many miracles because of their lack of faith" (Mt.13.58).
The Baptism in the Spirit's effectiveness in reactivating baptism consists in this: finally man contributes his part—namely, he makes a choice of faith, prepared in repentance, that allows the work of God to set itself free and to emanate all its strength. It is as if the plug is pulled and the light is switched on. The gift of God is finally "untied" and the Spirit is allowed to flow like a fragrance in the Christian life.
What is meant by “charismatic gifts”?
Vatican II echoes St. Paul in stating:
It is not only through the sacraments and Church ministries that the same Holy Spirit sanctifies and leads the people of God. He distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank… "The manifestation of the Spirit is given to everyone for profit." [1 Cor 12:7] These charismatic gifts, whether they be the most outstanding or the more simple and widely diffused, are to be received with thanksgiving and consolation, for they are exceedingly suitable and useful for the needs of the Church. [L.G. 12]
Following is a brief description of these gifts:
WISDOM: The gift by which the Holy Spirit directs a person to make the right decision or judgment and to live a true Christian life. Generally most Catholics acknowledge this gift by praying for the Light of the Spirit.
KNOWLEDGE: The gift by which the Spirit gives a person a deeper understanding of a Mystery of Faith or specific knowledge about a person or situation that could not be known, unless God revealed it. Many priests experience this gift in the sacrament of reconciliation.
FAITH: This gift inspires a person to pray with God given confidence. Knowing that what is asked for will be granted. This should not be confused with the virtue of faith (believing Christian truths). Jesus told his disciples that "whoever says to this mountain, `Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him." [Mark 11:23]
HEALING: This is one gift which Catholics accept in the lives of the saints, but find it difficult to accept in the lives of ordinary Christians. This gift speeds up the natural healing powers of the body. Jesus healed many who came to him, for example, Peter's mother-in-law.
MIRACLES:This gift is different from healing in that it does not depend on the laws of nature. An example of a miracle, or mighty deed, is the raising of Lazarus from the dead.
PROPHECY: This is a gift by which God, through a person, speaks a message to an individual or to the whole Christian community. It is God making use of someone, to state what He thinks about the present situation, what His intention is for the future; or what He thinks they should know or be mindful of right now. It is not primarily nor necessarily a prediction of the future. St. Paul says, "One who prophesies does speak to human beings, for their building up, encouragement, and solace." [1 Cor. 14:3]
DISCERNMENT OF SPIRITS: Through this gift one senses the presence of good or evil spirits. Many experience a form of discernment when meeting people. Some people come across as loving and good; others radiate negative aspects. Primarily, this gift discerns the presence of the Holy Spirit.
TONGUES: Catholic Charismatics believe that God gives the gift of praying in an "unknown tongue" to anyone who seeks it. The person is able to speak this new language of praise of God, even though the individual does not understand what is being said. Actually, it is the Spirit of God within the heart praying. In the Book of Romans, St. Paul says, "the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God's will." [Rom 8:26-27} This gift of tongues is mentioned 57 times in the New Testament!
INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES: Occasionally, a member of the assembly will speak out some message in tongues. This utterance will be accompanied by an interpretation of its contents. Tongues and interpretation, St. Paul tells us, are the equivalent to the gift of prophecy.