Friday, 14 May 2021

Novena for Pentecost: the fruits of "Baptism in the Spirit"

 The Catholic Charismatic Renewal is a little unusual among the range of new movements that have taken root in the Church in recent decades. Rather than representing one community or organisation in the Church it embraces a wide range, from communities with specific foundations and houses to diocesan service committees supporting individual prayer groups. Charis, instituted by the Holy See in December 2018, carries out an office of service to the different expressions of the Renewal throughout the world. It has received a three-fold mission from Pope Francis: sharing the experience of "Baptism in the Holy Spirit" with the whole Church, working for Christian unity (though, speaking soon after the institution of Charis, Pope Francis expressed this in terms of serving "the unity of the Body of Christ, the Church", suggesting a promotion of communion in the Church itself) and serving the poor. Received anew as a mission from the Holy Father, these are features already reflected in the life of the Charismatic Renewal.

The characteristic feature of the Charismatic Renewal is what is known as "Baptism in the Spirit", which can be associated in the minds of those unfamiliar with the Renewal with extraordinary phenomena. But many of the chracteristics and fruits of "Baptism in the Spirit", as described by those involved in the Renewal, are ordinary gifts that would be recognised in many of the other ecclesial movements - love of the Church, Marian devotion, strong sense of evangelisation etc. I am going to post on these fruits in the coming days.

In this post I want to start by suggesting that, just as life in a religious order or life lived in accordance with the charism of any ecclesial movement represents for the individuals concerned a specification in their own circumstances of the universal call to holiness received through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, so "Baptism in the Holy Spirit" represents for those in the Charismatic Renewal the way in which their baptismal and confirmational consecration is made specific to their individual lives. Understood in this way, "Baptism in the Spirit" is at one among a wide range of charisms in the Church that enable the faithful to live, in a specific way, the call to holiness that is addressed to all, though it gains a certain vividness because of a clarity of its connection to Baptism and Confirmation. The recognition of that charism by those in authority in the Church indicates further that it is a charism that, like those of other ecclesial movements and communities, is of value for the life of the Church as a whole. Whilst not everyone will be called to live this charism, it is nevertheless worthy of the attention of all in the Church.

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