by Ciel Tagaza
There are different expressions of Christian spirituality. Just look at the Catholic Church. It boasts of a rich spirituality – thanks to the saints, who throughout the ages have contributed to the deposit of Faith by their witness and their writings on their interior life. The “newest” faith expression in the Catholic Church is the Charismatic spirituality. Brought about by the Catholic Charismatic Movement nearly 50 years ago, it is relatively recent in the context of the Church’s 2,000-year history.
The Charismatic Movement couldn’t have risen anew at a more perfect time than this point in Church history. It is a movement indeed. The Holy Spirit’s. It is a spirituality that can give rise to “saints of the new millennium”, as Pope Saint John Paul II called those who were at the threshold of the new era then (and are in it now!). It is an alternative way to approach God and a significant tool for the new evangelization.
But there are those who are wary of the Charismatic way. They think it may not foster spiritual maturity and so reduce it to an emotional experience. Too much feels. Instead of bristling and becoming too defensive, we charismatics must ask ourselves if the criticism has merit. Are we maturing in faith, or are we skimming the surface? Are we attracted to God’s greatness and goodness, or are we attached to the emotions evoked from the platform? Don’t focus on feelings. Remember: it’s all about Jesus!
Emotions in themselves are not bad. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. If our emotions awaken in us an awareness of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit and a deep love for Jesus, then, praise God for these stirrings! But there will be periods when we will not feel good or anything at all. That’s when our faith, hope and love are tested, purified, and our being charismatic authenticated.
Skeptics may point out that charismatics are “noisy”, that there’s hardly room for silence in charismatic worship gatherings. If we pray only in gatherings, then we may have become clanging cymbals. Empty. We must set aside time for contemplation. Be still. We need interior silence to hear God’s voice, so that our charismatic worship springs forth from our intimacy with Him. Quoting St. Faustina Kowalska, “One can speak a great deal without breaking silence and, on the contrary, one can speak little and be constantly breaking silence.”
Some think charismatics deviate too much from Church Tradition. On the contrary, the charisms we manifest these days are the same gifts poured out by the same Spirit on the disciples and converts during Pentecost – the Church’s birthday. Isn’t that being grounded in tradition? These visible signs of the Holy Spirit prove the relevance of His charisms and God’s continuous renewal of the Church.
In a time when more people are longing for God (whether they know it or not), the Charismatic Renewal may be an effective way to rediscover His love.