CHARISMS: GOD'S MAGNIFICENT POWER
By Robert Canton
Council Member Vatican-Based ICCRS
Representing English Speaking North America,
Central America, and Caribbean Countries
In 2017, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal will celebrate its 50th anniversary. The Vatican based International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services(ICCRS) is encouraging each nation to journey in a special way towards the Golden Jubilee. It is the hope of ICCRS that the people of God will become more mature in the Spirit by going deeper in the gifts and charisms that the Lord has given us. The spiritual gifts are no doubt vital tools which build up the Body of Christ and equip us for mission.
In 1 Cor.12:4-11, St. Paul writes, "There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit: there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.
To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom, to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit; to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernments of spirits; to another prophecy; to another discernments of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as He wishes."
The Sacred Scriptures list varieties of spiritual gifts. We read about these other gifts in Isaiah 11:2, Romans 12:3-8, Ephesians 4:11-12, 1 Corinthians 7:8; 12:8-11, 12:28, 1 Peter 4:9. The documents of the Second Vatican Council under the Decree of the Apostolate of the Laity assert, "From the acceptance of these charisms, including those which are more elementary, there arise for each believer the right and duty to use them in the Church and in the world for the good of men and the building up of the Church, in the freedom of the Holy Spirit who 'breathes where He wills' (Jn 3:8)" (Apostolicam Actuositatem 3).
"WHAT ARE CHARISMS AND HOW TO USE THEM?"
PURPOSES OF THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS:
- Given by the Holy Spirit to individuals for service or ministry. Charism is taken from Greek word, "Charismata" meaning favor freely given to whomever the Lord chooses. It is not something that the recipient has earned or deserved. Jesus says in Luke 11:13, "If you then who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?
- To edify or build up the body of Christ
- To encourage and to comfort the body of Christ. ( 1 Cor. 14:3-5)
WHAT ARE THE TEACHINGS OF THE CHURCH
REGARDING THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS?
1.) THE CATECHISMS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, section 799 states:
"Whether extraordinary or simple and humble, charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to their building up, to the good of men, and to the needs of the world."
Furthermore, it states in Section 768 – "So that she can fulfill her mission, the Holy Spirit 'bestows upon [the Church] varied hierarchic and charismatic gifts, and this way directs her'. Henceforward the Church, endowed with the gifts of her founder and faithfully observing his precepts of charity, humility and self-denial, receives the mission of proclaiming and establishing among all peoples the Kingdom of Christ and of God, and she is on earth the seed and the beginning of that kingdom."
2.) THE DOCUMENTS OF THE VATICAN COUNCIL II UNDER THE DOGMATIC CONSTITUTION OF THE CHRUCH-LUMEN GENTIUM;
As all the members of the human body, though they are many, form one body, so also are the faithful in Christ. Also, in the building up of Christ's Body various members and functions have their part to play. There is only one Spirit who, according to His own richness and the needs of the ministries, gives His different gifts for the welfare of the Church. What has a special place among these gifts is the grace of the apostles to whose authority the Spirit Himself subjected even those who were endowed with charisms. Giving the body unity through Himself and through His power and inner joining of the members, this same Spirit produces and urges love among the believers. From all this it follows that if one member endures anything, all the members co-endure it, and if one member is honored, all the members together rejoice.
3.) POPE BENEDICT XVI, in his homily during the closing Mass of the World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia, stated, "But what is this power of the Holy Spirit? It is the power of God's life! It is the power of the same Spirit who hovered over the waters at the dawn of creation, and who, in the fullness of time, raised Jesus from the dead. It is a power which points us, and our world, towards the coming of the Kingdom of God."
God's power is described by many as "dunamis" a Greek word meaning "dynamite." Spiritual Gifts manifest the presence and power of God in our midst. In Acts 1:8, Jesus says, 'You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you shall be my witnesses in Judea, in Jerusalem, in Samaria, and all the ends of the earth." Let us define the Charismatic Gifts of the Holy Spirit as mentioned in 1 Cor. 12:4-11:
Intellectual Gifts or Gifts of Revelation
1.) WORD OF WISDOM: The gift by which the Holy Spirit directs a person to make the right decision or judgment and to live a true Christian life. Generally, most Catholics acknowledge this gift by praying for the Light of the Spirit. Supernatural perspective to ascertain the divine means of accomplishing God's will in a given situation.One good example of the demonstration of the gift of the word of wisdom is found on Luke 5:4-10. "After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch. Simon said in reply, "Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets." When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing.
They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that they were in danger of sinking.When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man."For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him,and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men."
2.) WORD OF KNOWLEDGE: It is a tiny portion of God's total knowledge supernaturally imparted by the Holy Spirit. Like a word of wisdom, supernatural knowledge doesn't come by natural reasoning, or training, or education but directly by the Holy Spirit, and it is operated only under God's control.
In John 4:16-19, we read, "Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, "Go call your husband and come back. The woman answered and said to him, "I do not have a husband." Jesus answered her, "You are right in saying, 'I do not have a husband.'For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true."The woman said to him, "Sir, I can see that you are a prophet." Jesus is truly God and truly man. But in His humanity, He had to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to do and to say what He did and revealed to people such as to the Samaritan woman by the well.
3.) DISCERNMENT OF SPIRITS: Supernatural power to detect or recognize the realm of the spirits and their activities. These "are the possible sources of the manifestations or certain phenomena; the Holy Spirit, the human spirit, good "Angels, or demonic spirits. Very few begin operating in the gifts perfectly the first time. Yet we can practice and "come to perfection in our understanding and operation of them." A good example of the manifestations of this gift is found on Acts 16:16-18. "As we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl with an oracular spirit, who used to bring a large profit to her owners through her fortune-telling. She began to follow Paul and us, shouting, "These people are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation." She did this for many days. Paul became annoyed, turned, and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." Then it came out at that moment." What the woman, with the spirit of occult, said of St. Paul and other disciples was true. However, St. Paul had discerned that this woman was oppressed by evil spirits.
4.) FAITH: The gift inspires a person to pray with God-given confidence. Knowing that what is asked for will be ``granted. This should not be confused with the virtue of faith. This is a "charismatic" kind of faith, a faith that can move mountains. It is a supernatural gift to believe God without doubt.
We can read about the demonstration of this kind of faith in Matt.9:20-22, A woman suffering hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the tassel on his cloak. She said to herself, "If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured."Jesus turned around and saw her, and said, "Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you." And from that hour the woman was cured."
5.) GIFTS OF HEALINGS: This gifts speed up the natural healing powers of the body. Approximately 90 % of the ministry of Jesus here on earth were spent on healing the sick. Healing is Good News! There are countless narratives of healings found in the Bible, especially in the New Testament."When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And then a leper approached, did him homage, and said, "Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean."He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, "I will do it. Be made clean." His leprosy was cleansed immediately."
6.) MIRACLES OR WORKING OF MIRACLES: They are the so-called events that violate the laws of nature. It is a God-given ability to demonstrate the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit at work.
Jesus is a Miracle Worker par excellence because He was led by the Holy Spirit, guided by the Holy Spirit, controlled by the Holy Spirit, filled with the Holy Spirit, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Jesus apostles and disciples also were used by the Holy Spirit to do the miraculous such as Peter, Paul, Philip, and others. "When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, "This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves. "Jesus said to them, "There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves." But they said to him, "Five loaves and two fish are all we have here." Then he said, "Bring them here to me," and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over—twelve wicker baskets full. Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children." The Lord can use anyone to do the miraculous.
7.) PROPHECY: Prophecy is a gift by which the Lord, using a person, speaks a message to an individual or to the groups of believers gathered in a certain place. It is the Holy Spirit making use of someone to state what He thinks about the present situation, what His intention is for the future, or what He thinks they should know or be mindful of now. Prophecy may forth-tell or foretell the truths from God.
A prophecy that forth-tell means a message that does not necessarily pertains to the things in the future.
Example of this kind of prophecy: St. Paul says in 1 Cor. 14:1, "Follow the way of love, and eagerly desire the spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. On the other hand, fForetelling relates to the things or circumstances that will come to pass in the future. In Acts 11:27-28, we read, "At that time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch, and one of them named Agabus stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine all over the world, and it happened under Claudius.
8.) TONGUES: It is the ability given by the Holy Spirit to speak in a language not understood by the speaker. It is the Spirit of God praying within the heart of the person. In Romans 8:26-27, St. Paul says, "the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with in-expressible groaning.' And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God's will." The gift of tongues is mentioned 57 times in the New Testament. Some say it is the least of the gifts, but I think it is a doorway to other gifts of the Holy Spirit. In 1 Cor. 14:2, St. Paul says,I "For he that speaks in a tongue speaks not unto men, but unto God; for no man understands him; but in the spirit he utters mysteries." I thank God that He granted me the gift of speaking and praying in tongues, spite of myself, because it helps my prayer life tremendously.
9.) INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES: The ability given by the Holy Spirit to speak, in a language understood by the speaker, the meaning of words previously spoken in an unknown language. There are two basic kinds of tongues; praying in tongues and speaking in tongues. Praying in tongues doesn't necessarily need an interpretation while speaking in tongues during an assembly) or prophecy given in an unknown language needs an interpretation for all to understand.
The person who gives the interpretation is not necessarily the same person who speaks in tongues. Interpretation of Tongues is not necessarily a word for word translation of the message given in tongues but rather a rendering of the general sense of what was spoken in tongues.
St. Paul urged Timothy by saying "I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self control." (2 Tim 1:6-7). "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (Jam 1:17).
What are some of the ways to rekindle these gifts?
1. Surrender everything to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Our heart, mind, body and spirit must be surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the fulfillment of everything that the Father has promised us. "For in him we live and move and have our being."(Acts 17:28). ). In John 15:7-8, Jesus says, "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want, and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciple."
2. Use the gift with expectant faith. "If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and be planted in the sea'; and it would obey you."(Luke 17:6).The demonstrations of faith can move the heart of God and can stir into flame and rouse anew the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
3. Use the gifts with boldness. "And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness."(Acts 4:31). Because of their boldness in the Holy Spirit, signs, wonders, healings and miracles followed them wherever they went. We are also called by the Lord to do the same by virtue of our baptism.
4. Use the gifts with humility. "Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you." (Jam 4:10). Nothing can warp or dilute God's gifts except pride. Micah 6:8 reads, "And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"
5. Use the gifts with love. Love is the key that opens the Kingdom of God. If we use God's gifts with love, nothing is impossible for us. "We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him."(John 4:16)
6. Use the gift to build up others. "And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the equipment of the saints, for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." (Eph 4:11-13).
7. Use the gift for God's glory. "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God."(1 Cor.10:31). In order for us to stir the flame of God's gifts with great intensity, everything that we are and everything that we say and do, should be geared into giving glory to the Holy Trinity.
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." --Phil.4:13