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What is the charismatic renewal?

Holy Spirit

El Greco | Public Domain

Philip Kosloski - published on 06/07/19

The ecumenical movement has had an ever increasing presence in the Catholic Church.

A growing movement within the Catholic Church is known as the “charismatic renewal.” It is a spiritual movement that focuses on a deep relationship with the Holy Spirit, highlighting the many “charisms” that are given to Catholics through the sacraments of baptism and confirmation.

This particular movement was initially found within various Protestant denominations, who emphasized the list of spiritual gifts (charisms) given by the Holy Spirit in the writings of St. Paul. It began roughly in the 1960s and was introduced into the Catholic Church by faculty members and students from Duquesne University. The beginning of this movement is best described below by the National Service Committee of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

The Catholic Charismatic Renewal as it exists today is the outgrowth from a retreat held in February 1967 of several faculty members and students from Duquesne University. Many of the students – though not all – experienced a movement of God’s Spirit called being “baptized in the Holy Spirit.” The professors had previously been “baptized in the Spirit” a week or two before. God’s action was also prepared for in a very human way by the students’ prayerful preparation in reading the Acts of the Apostles and a book entitled The Cross and the Switchblade.

From there it began to spread rapidly in the United States and throughout the world. The Diocese of Lafayette explains what marked the movement, “They had a renewed commitment to prayer and a personal relationship to Jesus, a yearning for more knowledge in their Catholic faith and to the gospel call to bring the message of the Jesus to others, and the use of the gifts and charisms of the Holy Spirit to bring this about.”

Aleteia has printed three reflections from the preacher of the pontifical household, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, in preparation for Pentecost, and sponsored by the new service organization of the Charismatic Renewal.

See them here (links within article):

Read more:
Mary is the first “charismatic” of the Church, says Fr. Cantalamessa

Popes Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis have all offered their support of the movement, encouraging it as an authentic spiritual movement within the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict XVI in particular mentioned the positive attributes of the charismatic renewal.

What we learn in the New Testament on charism, which appeared as visible signs of the coming of the Holy Spirit, is not a historical event of the past, but a reality ever alive. It is the same divine Spirit, soul of the Church, that acts in every age and those mysterious and effective interventions of the Spirit are manifest in our time in a providential way. The Movements and New Communities are like an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in contemporary society. We can, therefore, rightly say that one of the positive elements and aspects of the Community of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal is precisely their emphasis on the charisms or gifts of the Holy Spirit and their merit lies in having recalled their topicality in the Church.

There is an emphasis within the Renewal on a proper discernment of charisms, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal which gifts God has given to them for the overall good of the Church. This is often expressed in “ordinary” charisms, such as the charism of “encouragement,” “faith” or “giving.” However, the Renewal is most often known by others for certain “extraordinary” charisms that are visibly seen at charismatic prayer meetings. This would include the charism of “healing,” “intercessory prayer” or “speaking in tongues.”

Above all these charisms are to be tested and Catholics are advised that these charisms are not meant to bring attention to themselves or others, but to God. The Renewal emphasizes how these charisms are never to be used for personal gain, but are always at the service of the Church and designed for the ultimate glory of God. While it can be a strange movement from an outsider’s perspective, when it is authentic and stays true to the teachings of the Catholic Church, the Renewal can bring much healing and peace to a person’s soul.


Read more:
Pentecost vigil and ecumenical prayer with Pope Francis, on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of the Charismatic Renewal


Read more:
How can you pray so the Holy Spirit will come?

Devotions and FeastsHoly Spirit
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