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Tuesday, 21 July 2015

A CURRENT OF GRACE: THE CATHOLIC CHARISMATIC RENEWAL


Pope at Audience: Use Your God-Given Gifts
my source: Zenit
Urges Faithful to Use Charisms to Build Church, Promote Unity
Vatican City, October 01, 2014 (ZENIT.org) Deborah Castellano Lubov 



by Carole Brown
Pope Francis has urged faithful to use the Holy Spirit’s gifts, received as God’s children and which nourish and enrich the Church and promote unity.
Speaking to thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square at this morning’s weekly General Audience, the Holy Father continued his catechesis on the Church, turning to the Spirit’s gifts, especially its charisms, which are “freely bestowed” on the faithful and “benefit the whole community.”
Asking the crowd “What, exactly, is a charism?” and “How can we recognize and receive it?” he explained that the notion of a charism is often misunderstood.
“In ordinary language,” the Pontiff explained, “when there is talk of a 'charism,' it is often understood as a talent, as a natural ability. So, in face of a particularly brilliant and moving person, it is usually said: ‘He's a charismatic person.’"
Yet, Francis clarified, “in the Christian perspective, 'charisma' is more than a personal quality,” for the charism is “a grace, a gift bestowed by God the Father, through the action of the Holy Spirit,” and is “given to someone not because he is more good than others or because it is deserved: it is a gift that God does.” 
While these gifts are granted to individuals, the Holy Father stressed, they “are discovered and acknowledged within the wider ecclesial community.” 
Signifying God’s immeasurable love for his children, Francis added, the charisms are rich and varied. “Each is meant to serve the building up of the Church as a communion of faith and love,” which, he continued, means they must be shared “generously for the good of all,” and are never to “become a reason for envy and division."
The "most beautiful" experience, the Holy Father underlined, “is to discover with how many different charisms and with how many gifts of his Spirit, the Father fills His Church!”
“This must not be seen as a reason for confusion, for embarrassment,” he highlighted, because they are all gifts that God makes to the Christian community, in order for it to “grow harmoniously, in faith and in His love, as one body, the body of Christ.”
“See what the Lord asks of us today," Francis urged, "to recognize with joy and gratitude the different charisms that He distributes in the community."
In the face of this multiplicity of charisms, the Pope said, “Our heart must open to joy and we must think, ‘What a beautiful thing!’ So many different gifts, because we are all God's children and all loved in a unique way.’”
To this end, Pope Francis called on those gathered to “consider the special gifts” they have personally received, imploring them to use those gifts to advance the Church’s unity, life, and mission.



(Vatican Radio) On Friday afternoon in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis met with members of the Renewal of the Holy Spirit, who have come to Rome for their 38th annual Convocation.
Listen to Christopher Wells' report:
A light rain did nothing to dampen the spirits of the tens of thousands of people gathered together in St Peter’s Square for an evening of prayer, spirituality, and evangelization. The event had a distinctively ecumenical character, with the theme of “Ways of Unity and Peace – Voices of prayer for the martyrs of today and for a spiritual ecumenism.” Representatives of various Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities were present for the meeting with the Pope Francis, testifying to “the power of ecumenical prayer and the need for a new fraternity among Christians.”
In his prayer at the beginning of the Audience, Pope Francis prayed that God the Father might send the Holy Spirit, Who will guide us to unity. It is the Holy Spirit, he said, who gives the various charisms within the Church, who works through the variety of gifts in the Church, and who grants unity. Pope Francis asked that Jesus, who prayed for unity in His Church, might help us to walk along the path of “unity, or of reconciled diversity.”
In his address, which he delivered “off-the-cuff,” the Holy Father reminded the members of the Renewal of the Holy Spirit of the words of Cardinal Leo Joseph Suenens, who called the charismatic renewal a “stream of grace.”  The current of grace, he said, must always flow into the ocean of God, the love of God, and must not be turned in on itself.
Pope Francis also spoke about the idea of “unity in diversity.” Unity is not uniformity, he said, but reflects the confluence of all the different parts that go to make it up.
He warned of the temptation of leaders – or rather, servants – to imagine that they are indispensable, a temptation that can lead to authoritarianism or personalism, which “does not allow the renewed communities to live in the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit, Pope Francis exclaimed, is the only indispensable actor in the renewal, just as Jesus is the one Lord. At the same time he spoke of good founders who lead the communities they found, caring for them and leading them to spiritual maturity.
The Holy Father gave thanks for the “current of grace” which has borne much fruit. He encouraged those who have had the experience of the renew “to go forward, share it with the Church,” a service he called very important. He encouraged them especially “to form bonds of trust and cooperation with the Bishops, who have the pastoral responsibility of guiding the Body of Christ, including the charismatic renewal."
Finally, Pope Francis emphasized the ecumenical dimension of the charismatic movement, rooting it in our common Baptism. Unity among Christians, he said, must begin with prayer. He spoke, too, of modern-day martyrs: “The blood of the martyrs of today makes us one!” He gave the examples of a Catholic priest and a Lutheran minister who were both executed by the Nazis, and of the 23 Coptic Christians who, just a few months ago, were murdered in Libya. He noted, too, that Paul VI, in canonizing the Ugandan martyrs made reference to the Anglican catechists who shed their blood with them. “Excuse me, don’t be scandalized, they are our martyrs,” he said.
Pope Francis concluded his remarks by reminding those in the Square of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the charismatic movement, which will be marked in St Peters on Pentecost in 2017. This jubilee, he said, quoting Bd Paul VI, will be an opportunity for the Church “to give thanks to the Holy Spirit for this current of grace which is for the Church and for the world; and to celebrate the marvelous works the Holy Spirit has done in the course of these 50 years, changing the lives of millions of Christians.

Pope Francis Speaks to the Renewal in the Spirit Conference in Rome

Dear brothers and sisters!

I thank you so much for your welcome. No doubt someone told the organizers that I very much like this song, "The Lord Jesus Lives" . When I celebrated holy Mass in Buenos Aires with the Charismatic Renewal, after the consecration and after a few seconds of adoration in tongues, we sang this song with so much joy and force, as you did today. Thank you! I felt at home!

I thank Renewal in the Spirit, the ICCRS and the Catholic Fraternity for this meeting with you, which gives me so much joy. I am grateful also for the presence of the first who had an intense experience of the power of the Holy Spirit; I believe that it was Patty, here . 

You, Charismatic Renewal, have received a great gift from the Lord. You were born of the will of the Spirit as "a current of grace in the Church and for the Church." This is your definition: a current of grace.

What is the first gift of the Holy Spirit? The gift of Himself, who is love and makes you enamored of Jesus. And this love changes life. Because of this it is said: "to be born again to life in the Spirit." Jesus said it to Nicodemus. You have received the great gift of the diversity of charisms, diversity that leads to the harmony of the Holy Spirit, to the service of the Church.

When I think of you  Charismatics, the image of the Church herself comes to me, but in a particular way: I think of a great orchestra, where every instrument is different from another and the voices are also different, but all are necessary for the harmony of the music.  Saint Paul says it in chapter XII of the First Letter to the Corinthians. 

Therefore, as in an orchestra, no one in the Renewal can think of being more important or greater than another, please! No one can say: "I'm the head." You, as the whole Church, have only one head, only one Lord: the Lord Jesus. Repeat with me: who is the head of the Renewal? The Lord Jesus! Who is the head of the Renewal? [those present]: the Lord Jesus! And we can say this with the strength that the Holy Spirit has given us, because no one can say "Jesus is the Lord" without the Holy Spirit.

As you perhaps know - because news spreads - in the first years of the Charismatic Renewal I did not like Charismatics much. And I said of them: "They seem like a school of samba!" I did not share their way of praying and the many new things that were happening in the Church. 

Afterwards, I began to know them and in the end I understood the good that Charismatic Renewal does to the Church. And this story, which goes from the "school of samba" forward, ends in a particular way: a few months before taking part in the Conclave, I was appointed by the Episcopal Conference spiritual assistant of Charismatic Renewal in Argentina.

Charismatic Renewal is a great force at the service of the proclamation of the Gospel, in the joy of the Holy Spirit. You received the Holy Spirit that made you discover the love of God for all his children and love of the Word. 

In the early times it was said that you Charismatics always carried the Bible with you, the New Testament . Do you still do it today? [the crowd]: Yes?! I'm not so sure. If not, return to this first love; always carry in your pocket, in your bag the Word of God! And read a little piece -- always with the Word of God.

You, people of God, people of the Charismatic Renewal, be careful not to lose the freedom that the Holy Spirit has given you. The danger for the Renewal, as our dear Father Raniero Cantalamessa often says, is that of excessive organization: the danger of excessive organization.

Yes, you need organization, but do not lose the grace of letting God be God! "However, there is no greater freedom than that of letting oneself be carried by the Spirit, refusing to calculate and to control everything, and allow Him to illuminate you, lead you, guide you, and push you where He wishes. He knows well what the need is in every age and moment. This calls to be mysteriously fruitful!" (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 280).

Another danger is that of becoming "controllers" of God's grace. So often the leaders (I prefer the name "servants") of some group or some community become, perhaps without wanting it, administrators of grace, deciding who can receive the prayer of the effusion or Baptism in the Spirit and who, instead, cannot. If some do so, I beg you not to do so anymore, don't do it anymore" You are dispensers of the grace of God, not controllers! Don't be a customs office to the Holy Spirit!

You have a guide in the Documents of Malines, a sure course not to mistake the way. The first document is: Theological and Pastoral Guideline. The second is: Charismatic Renewal and Ecumenism, written by Cardinal Suenens himself, great protagonist of Vatican Council II. The third is: Charismatic Renewal and Service to Man, written by Cardinal Suenens and Bishop Helder Camara.

This is your task: evangelization, spiritual ecumenism, care of the poor and needy and hospitality for the marginalized. And all this on the basis of adoration! The foundation of the renewal is to adore God!

I have been asked to tell the Renewal what the Pope expects from you.

The first thing is conversion to the love of Jesus, which changes life and makes of the Christian a witness of the Love of God. The Church expects this witness of Christian life and the Holy Spirit helps us to live the coherence of the Gospel for our holiness.

I expect from you that you share with all, in the Church, the grace of Baptism in the Holy Spirit (expression that is read in the Acts of the Apostles).

I expect from you an evangelization with the Word of God which proclaims that Jesus is alive and loves all men.

I expect that you give witness of spiritual ecumenism with all those brothers and sisters of other Churches and Christian communities who believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior.

That you remain united in the love that the Lord Jesus asks of us for all men, and in the prayer to the Holy Spirit to come to this unity, necessary for evangelization in the name of Jesus. 

Remember that "the Charismatic Renewal is by its very nature ecumenical . Catholic Renewal rejoices over what the Holy Spirit carries out in the other Churches" (1 Malines 5, 3).

Be close to the poor, the needy, to touch in their flesh the flesh of Jesus. Be close, please!

Seek unity in the Renewal, because unity comes from the Holy Spirit and is born of the unity of the Trinity. From whom does division come? From the devil! Divison comes from the devil. Flee from internal fights, please! They must not exist among us!

I want to thank the ICCRS and the Catholic Fraternity, the two organizations of Pontifical Right of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, at the service of global Renewal; be committed to preparing the world meeting for priests and Bishops, which will be held in June of next year. 

I know that you have also decided to share the office and to work together as a sign of unity and to manage the resources better. I rejoice greatly. I also want to thank you because you are already organizing the Great Jubilee of 2017.

Brothers and sisters, remember: adore the Lord God: this is the foundation! To adore God. Seek sanctity in the new life of the Holy Spirit. Be dispensers of the grace of God. Avoid the danger of excessive organization.

Go out into the streets to evangelize, proclaiming the Gospel. Remember that the Church was born "in going forth" that Pentecost morning. Be close to the poor and touch in their flesh the wounded flesh of Jesus. Let yourselves by led by the Holy Spirit, with that freedom and, please, do not cage the Holy Spirit! With liberty!

Seek the unity of the Renewal, unity that comes from the Trinity!


And I await you all, Charismatics of the world, to celebrate, together with the Pope, your Great Jubilee in Pentecost of 2017, in Saint Peter's Square! Thank you!



read: 
&
After the meeting described below,
a meeting in Rome




A recent meeting of ministers associated with the prosperity-preaching Word of Faith branch of charismatic Christianity received a surprise announcement: Pope Francis had sent a message to the conference. It was something of a historic moment. Beginning around the thirty-minute mark of the above video, Francis speaks in Italian and English subtitles are provided at the bottom. As part of his greeting, the pope chose to highlight two themes, his joy at their desire to worship together in prayer to the Father for the Spirit to come and his yearning for Christians to become one again. Francis described the current state of Christianity as one of separated families, by which he meant both biological families and the family of God. It was not lost on the Holy Father that the fractures in Christianity are also fractures between individuals. He asks, “Who is to blame for this separation?” and answers, “We all share the blame. We have all sinned.” Such a statement expresses the fraternity Francis wishes to restore, nothing more, nothing less. He went on to say that his desire is for this separation to end and a communion to begin again. Francis referenced the reunion between Joseph and his brothers in Egypt. While the brothers journeyed to Egypt to buy food, they in fact discovered a long lost family member. Such a serendipitous union is what Francis desires. He then said that both groups have great cultural riches, religious riches, and diverse traditions, “but we have to encounter one another as brothers. We must cry together like Joseph did. These tears will unite us. The tears of love.” He concluded his greeting by saying that he was speaking to the group of ministers as a brother and in a simple manner. His desire was that through the joy of proclaiming Jesus Christ as the Lord of history, a desire to embrace one another as family might grow. He then told the audience to pray for him as a way of giving one another a spiritual embrace. When the greeting concluded charismatic minister Kenneth Copeland, who was hosting the conference, took the stage and led the conference in a prayer for Pope Francis. That the pope would say this to a group of charismatic ministers in the United States is significant, all the more so since a pope who identifies so much with Il Poverello, Francis of Assisi, was speaking to a branch of the charismatic movement that emphasizes prosperity. It seems to me that Francis models for us how dialogue can move forward. It must begin with a mutual embrace that refuses to give in to stereotypes about the other. Yes, there are clear doctrinal differences, which Francis does not deny. His greeting, however, suggests that the hard task of finding common ground begins with calling one another brother and sister. Francis did not rush to offer a theological critique of the prosperity gospel although he certainly could have. Instead, he presented the option of moving closer theologically by mutual recognition and embrace. I have been privileged to do just that through Evangelicals and Catholics Together and Francis has invited all of us to do the same. When people wonder why Evangelicals embrace Francis, they fail to see that Jorge Bergoglio had been connecting with evangelicals through the charismatic movement for quite some time. This greeting resulted from a relationship that Pope Francis has had with the broader charismatic movement in general and Tony Palmer in particular, who facilitated the connection. Tony Palmer’s vision to bring Christians together merged with Pope Francis’ vision to make this greeting possible. My own colleague at Regent, Vinson Synan has had more than one audience with Archbishop Bergoglio. There is a way forward together. It’s not easy. But it may just be that we need a man who embodies the spirit of Francis of Assisi. Who will make the surprising moves of crossing lines to speak just as Francis of Assisi did when he broke through the crusader soldiers to speak to the caliph, Malik-al-Kamil. Once again Pope Francis has pointed us toward a future bright with possibility.
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