Let the Fire Fall: Gifts of Charismatic Prayer

Concurrent to the rise of secularism and cultural deformation in the 1960s was an outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit within the Catholic Church giving birth to what is known as the Charismatic Renewal. The movement within the Church is often associated with many of the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit such as praying in tongues, prophecy and healing. Although the renewal is characterized with the inclusion of these gifts, it does not necessarily define the movement.
The stirring up of the Holy Spirit, which directly initiated the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church, occurred on the campus of Duquesne University in 1967. Students and faculty who were on retreat one weekend, simultaneously felt called in the middle of the night to enter the chapel and they began praising and worshiping. The Holy Spirit unleashed His gifts that night in a profound way. The greater awareness of the Holy Spirit and the new movement quickly spread throughout the nation and to different countries around the world.
These extraordinary gifts associated with the movement of the Holy Spirit harkens back to the first Pentecost more than 2,000 years ago with the Apostles and the Blessed Mother.
"The Early Church was charismatic," said Terry Riggins, co-director of the diocesan Charismatic Renewal Service Council, which oversees charismatic prayer groups within the diocese. Riggins spoke about the Book of Acts in the Bible, where many of the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit were very prevalent. "There was praying in tongues, healings and prophecies," she said.
However, it is important to note that the Charismatic Renewal is not restricted to these extraordinary gifts, which often come from prayerfully invoking the Holy Spirit.
Charismatic prayer is calling upon and being open to the Holy Spirit. It consists of having a deeper and more profound relationship with the Holy Spirit. Invoking the Holy Spirit often leads to either the ordinary gifts or extraordinary gifts. The gifts include: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and Fear of the Lord. The extraordinary gifts are those described in chapter 12 of St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, which include healing, prophecy, tongues and discernment of tongues. Regardless, the gifts are not bestowed on a person because of their own holiness or merit, rather for the greater glory of God.
"We are not in control, but God is and that is the purpose of the charismatic gifts. They are supernatural," said Riggins, who is a parishioner of the Church of the Nativity in Burke. Both the ordinary gifts and the extraordinary gifts are given, "Not to our glory, but His glory … The gifts show the power of God."
Due to the fact that those who experience the gifts are not in full control, people must constantly discern the gifts. It must always "flow from God's love. Love must be the motivating thing," said Riggins. Another important factor is that it must not ever be contrary to the teachings of the Church. The Holy Spirit will never oppose its Church, nor will the gifts of the Holy Spirit ever divide the Church. "The Holy Spirit is a spirit of unity," said Riggins. Also included in the discernment process is looking at the fruits, which the gifts bear. Among peace and joy, the movement should bring one to a deeper relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist, a greater devotion to the Blessed Mother and a more profound love for the Church and the Holy Father.
Charismatic praise and worship is also often associated with feelings of euphoria, so it is necessary to be cautious of simply seeking the emotional high. One must not get disillusioned by the gifts and forget the Giver of those gifts. "God doesn't just make you feel good," said Riggins, about getting caught up in the emotions. Sometimes, "there are tastes of heaven, but they are given for a reason. The last thing He wants is for us to be so heavenly minded that we're of no earthly good," she said.
The gifts are always given to strengthen the Church. The Second Vatican Council's document, Lumen Gentium, succinctly states that the Holy Spirit leads the faithful and "enriches them with His virtues … He is also the distributor of special graces among the faithful of every rank. By these gifts He makes them fit and ready to undertake various tasks and offices for the renewal and building up of the Church" (no. 12).
Charismatic prayer groups and praise and worship sessions are held at various parishes around the diocese. For more information go to: www.arlingtondiocese.org/offices/charismatic/roster.html. Henrietta Gomes can be reached at hgomes@catholicherald.com.

Copyright ?2007 Arlington Catholic Herald, Inc. All rights reserved.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2007

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