Catholic Charismatic Renewal Center for Chicago
There’s a phrase that you sometimes hear in preaching and/or teaching about the Church; “The fullness of the Spirit”. That phrase makes me smile, wonder, stand in awe and sometimes long for the “old days”. It also makes me worry about others who call themselves Catholic and never give the Spirit a second thought. I almost never hear any of my faith friends refer to the Spirit unless they are talking about confirmation and then not often enough. I rarely hear it at all when people talk about their own personal faith journey. As a Church, we have not done a good job with teaching the ideas that our “wholeness” as a people is Trinitarian. The Eastern Church has always had a firm grasp on this concept but we in the west have not.
I cannot help but feel a little privileged about my experience with the Spirit these forty or so years. I came to the Charismatic Movement in my twenties at a time when my life was at loose ends. That was the seventies when the Charismatic movement was literally exploding in the Catholic Church. After just a couple of conferences of 40,000 plus Catholic Charismatics, and week-ends on campuses with Catholics praying and praising 24 hours non-stop, there was no dissuading me from the idea that this community of praise, worship and joy was not exactly like what the first Christians had experienced!
Being steeped in the Spirit was a simple reality. Come to a prayer meeting and hear him speak. Go to a prayer session and don’t be surprised if another miracle occurs! As Charismatics at a very well structured prayer meeting we were all attending the “school of the Spirit” although we didn’t realize it. I spent years in that environment and received (spiritual) education worth a million dollars. In that environment there was sound teaching on: prayer, meditation, contemplation, intercession, discernment, testing of spirits, scripture, tongues, miracles, witnessing, praise, the mind of God, the Love of God, faith, service. I saw miracles and heard tongues with their interpretations so often that I found nothing unusual when one more incident was happening in front of my eyes or ears.
My experience with the Holy Spirit changed my life and educated me about faith in ways that I can’t even articulate. I fear that the lack of teaching and active recognition of the Holy Spirit in today’s Church does nothing but weaken us as a body of believers. We cannot return to the seventies, but we need to be more cognizant of the Spirit in our conversation, teaching, faith habits and prayer. Whether you are charismatic or not the Holy Spirit is still the “animator of the soul”. The Spirit brings that dimension of faith which we cannot generate by ourselves. The unseen ah-ha moment in the soul when we finally “get it” can only be brought by the Spirit as witnessed by the Apostles at Pentecost. Jesus himself told them that it would be the Spirit who would come to them. “There are two kinds of faith: supernatural faith which the Holy Spirit infuses into souls and human faith,…. In infused faith [by the Spirt] there is no measure or mean.” (Venerable Louis of Granada, t1588, Spanish Dominican)
As we approach Pentecost rethink your attitude and visible actions toward The Spirit. Invite him to be part of your prayer and intercession. Think of him more often than once a year. Tell people how He has acted in your life. The Spirit can complete and fill in any part of your faith that feels like it is lacking. He can arm you with spiritual tools that you can’t obtain any other way. He is God’s warrior in all the places that are hidden. Make your Faith truly Trinitarian for an unbeatable combination of power and grace. When you invite the Spirit surprises will come that you never imagined could happen. “Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them…’It is the Spirit that gives life…’” (Jn 6:65)
By Kathryn M. Cunningham