When I was a teenager, my parents would take me to a charismatic prayer group, where once in a while, there’d be laying on of hands where people fall to the ground and are ‘slain in the spirit’. I always thought this was a little bit strange, and I was doubtful about the strong faith life of those called ‘charismatics’.
I have recently found myself drawn more and more to the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity most closely associated with the charismatic movement. We have an image of God as our Father, and Jesus we picture as a man, our brother, our friend. For the Holy Spirit, who is the love between the Father and the Son, the Spouse of the Church (ultimately, our spouse), the one who will bring all things into one, we have images of a dove, tongues of fire, wind, oil, living springs of water.
How can we relate to the Spirit in human terms when we are presented with images like these?
Of all movements in the Church, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement lays the strongest claim to the work of the Spirit in the Church. The charismatic movement brings to mind such terms as “slain in the spirit” and “speaking in tongues”, and such images as dancing and the waving of hands. An estimate that 14 percent of North American Catholics – nearly 10 million people – are part of the charismatic renewal. And they all say that the Holy Spirit is working through them. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be our Advocate and our Guide as believers. The Holy Spirit belongs to any baptized Catholic, so how is the Holy Spirit’s work unique in the charismatic renewal? Are all the ‘outward’ and ‘external’ gestures an expression of the work of the Spirit? And what about the healing miracles associated with the charismatic renewal?
In Tuesday's episode of Catholic Focus, I explore these questions.
I had the wonderful opportunity of spending some time with Fr. Raniero Cantalemessa, O.F.M., Cap. Besides being the Preacher to the Papal Household, this humble Cappuchin priest is very close to the charismatic movement and has also written several books, one of them being The Sober Intoxication of the Spirit
. He also clarified some points for me about the Holy Spirit and the charismatic movement, and provided a brief history about the birth of the movement and its role in our Church.
I also spoke with Fr. Peter Coughlin, who has been involved in the charismatic renewal since 1971. Fr. Coughlin highlights the gifts of the Spirit in our times, focusing on the gifts of healing and of tongues, which he has received from the Spirit himself!
We also hear from participants of the first Canadian National Conference of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, particularly from those involved in the Youth Workshop – they speak about conversions and why the charismatic movement is for them.
Finally, a Life Teen group from Merciful Redeemer Parish in Mississauga shares how the Life Teen Mass is attracting young people and changing their lives.
Tune into Salt + Light Television on Tuesday, October 16th, 2007, as Catholic Focus : The Holy Spirit and the Charismatic Movement
airs at 7 and 11 pm ET, with a repeat on Saturday, October 20th, 2007, at 7 and 11 pm ET.
Be touched by the Spirit!
For more information on the topic, check these books:Sober Intoxication of the Spirit
by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap.Understanding the Charismatic Gifts
by Fr. Peter CoughlinPersonal Stories of Faith, Conversion and Renewal
, edited by Fr. Peter Coughlin
Webpages:Homepage of Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa
, O.F.M. Cap.The Bread of Life Renewal CentreLife Teen