Empowerment Gifts of the Spirit (Part 1): Our Legacy In Christ
[Selected Scripture Regarding the Promise of the Father]
1) BEFORE PENTECOST:
“While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the Promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4-5)
“And behold, I am sending forth the Promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24-49)
“Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. And at this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together) …” (Acts 1:12-15)
2) ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST:
“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all [120 of them] together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All  of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” (Acts 2:1-4)
3) AFTER PENTECOST:
Peter said to them [the crowd of 3000 that gathered after the Spirit had fallen on the 120 disciples], “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and [then] you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the Promise [of the Father] is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” (Acts 2-38-39)
My fellow Pilgrims,
I have spoken before about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and how they may be classified under two main categories. Namely, the Sanctifying Gifts and the Empowerment Gifts, sometimes called charisms. The Empowerment Gifts are the Gifts which came on the Church at Pentecost and which are the manifestation of what scripture terms, “The Promise of the Father”. The Sanctifying Gifts correspond to those graces one receives at conversion and Water Baptism, while the Empowerment Gifts refer to the Gifts received at Confirmation and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (cf., The Double Portion Anointing).
I have also mentioned that these two facets of spiritual gifting are indicated in several scriptures of which the ones I will mention below are but a few.
First of all let us consider what Jesus told Nicodemus, that in order to “enter the Kingdom”, that is to share in His ministry, one must be born of water and the Spirit (Jn.3:1-21). We receive Water Baptism when we come to the knowledge of the truth and accept Jesus for who He is, repent of our sins, and accept Him as our Lord and Savior. In this baptism we are baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:27) and receive the Sanctifying Gifts with which the Holy Spirit begins the process of conforming us to the image of the Son. (cf., The Kingdom Of God: Our Spiritual Inheritance).
The graces we receive through water baptism are the inner Graces of Christ himself as prophesied in Isaiah 11. These graces are termed by St. John as the “inner anointing” and by St. Thomas Aquinas as Sanctifying Grace (cf., The Sanctifying Gifts, Part 1 and Part 2). These are the graces given to each believer for his or her personal sanctification, that through these graces we may incorporate Christ’s holiness and character into our own lives, and in this way permit His presence to operate through us to the salvation of others (Summa Theologica, Vol XI, Nature and Grace, 12 ae, Q111, Art.1, Par. 3).
In Confirmation or thereafter we receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit to empower us to be the agents of God’s grace to the community (Matt. 3:11, Mk. 11;8, Lk 3:16). Thus, in accord with Aquinas, these gifts are not for our personal benefit bit for the benefit of the community and are termed by him under the category of “actual” or “free” grace. This is what I call the “outer anointing” we believers receive to be the channels of God’s grace to the community as agents of Christ through which He ministers to the body of Christ and the world through us. These nine basic spiritual empowerment gifts are listed by St. Paul in 1 Cor. 12 ff ( cf., Pentecost and the Promise of the Father).
In receiving these graces we need to understand that what we are receiving are supernatural gifts, that is, gifts that operate over and above our own natural gifts and, in fact sometimes are intended to override our own natural talents. In order for these gifts to operate to their fullness in us and through us requires our full cooperation. The Holy Spirit does not work through a set of robots or zombies but through a fully yielded believer who cedes his/her cooperation as an act of agape Love (Rom. 12:1-2 ) – a love that gives of itself through obedience to the leadings of the Holy Spirit of God (cf., The Sweet Yoke of Love). If we attempt to move in these gifts with impure motives, that is, out of self-motivated carnal desires, we will walk in the flesh and the results of the gifts will not be beneficial to the community or to us but rather to the detriment of ourselves and the community (1Cor. 13 ff, and Matt. 7:21-23).
One of the reasons I present these series of articles on the empowerment gifts is to assist you in breaking out of the hold our human nature has on us to be conformed to the world and to present to you the Word of God regarding the charisms, so that in yielding yourself to the Spirit He may began to conform you to the image of the Son and empower you to act and live in His Name. As long as we let the world dictate to us how we are to think and act, we will not be able to become that which the Father has destined for us, that is, to become His fully empowered children in the image of His Son.
Just as Jesus received the anointing of the Spirit to empower Him to fulfill His role as Messiah, so also, when the Lord places a call on our lives he also makes available to us the empowerment gifts or charisms necessary to fulfill that the role for which He has called us. These spiritual gifts are over and above the Sanctifying Gifts we receive at baptism. These are the gifts through which Jesus, works through us to minister to His church and the world. If we neglect to accept and utilize these gifts we are denying our Lord an opportunity to work through us to bring His compassion and love to heal and strengthen His Body. That, in itself, should be enough motivation for all Christians to yield themselves to the Holy Spirit and His gifts.
Before expounding more specifically on the Empowerment Gifts of the Spirit in the postings to come, I believe it would help if we were all on the same page, so to speak, in our overall understanding of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and the Spiritual Gifts. Therefore, to get us started, I conclude this posting with an excerpted article by Father Thomas Foster S.J., Bishop’s Liaison to the Charismatic Renewal, Diocese of San Jose, California (circa 1993). This article provides an excellent basic summary of the Empowerment Gifts, thus laying the foundation for the articles to follow.
May the Holy Spirit re-kindle the Flame of Love In your hearts and may He incite you to desire the spiritual gifts to the Glory of Christ Jesus Our Lord!!
Your Fellow Pilgrim …. Bartimeus
(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2010])
The Catholic Experience of Renewal and the Charismatic Gifts
By Fr. Thomas Foster S.J.
On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and exclaimed, ” Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as scripture says: ‘Rivers of living water will flow from within him’.” He said this in reference to the Spirit that those who came to believe in him were to receive. There was, of course, no Spirit yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified. ” [John 7:37-39]
One of many spiritual renewals within the Catholic Church, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal started in 1967 when a handful of students and university theology professors from Duquesne University got together for a retreat weekend. From this small and inconspicuous beginning, by 1990 the movement had grown to include more than 72 million Catholics world-wide (over 15 million in America). It has official organizations in 120 countries around the world. Many believe that this renewal is a direct result of Vatican II and Pope John XXIII’s prayer: “O Holy Spirit … pour fourth the fullness of your gifts … Renew your wonders in this our day as by a new Pentecost.”
The Catholic Charismatic movement is not simply a renewal of the charisms found in the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians [Chapter 12]. It centers on the renewal of individual commitment to the person of Jesus Christ. This commitment has been the center of every authentic renewal in the history of the Church. The commitment begins by the re-anointing with the presence of the Holy Spirit; what is sometimes called “The Baptism in the Holy Spirit.”
This occurs when individuals ask Jesus Christ, who is the one who gives the Holy Spirit, to stir up the gift of the Holy Spirit within their hearts. St. Paul admonished Timothy: “I remind you to stir into flame the Gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.” [2 Tim 1:6]
This is primarily a renewal of the gifts received in the sacraments of baptism and confirmation. The results are many. Along with the reception of the charisms, people who have experienced this renewal in the Holy Spirit talk of a new and deeper personal knowledge of Jesus. They find new power in prayer, a new love of scripture, and a new and deeper appreciation of the Church, of the liturgy, and of the sacraments.
These characteristics of the Charismatic Renewal have led both Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II to actively encourage the faithful and the clergy to become involved in the Charismatic Renewal. This approval was first dramatically demonstrated by Pope Paul VI in 1975. He, personally, invited the renewal to hold its annual conference in Rome. In a special session during that conference the Pope stated: “Nothing is more necessary to this more and more secularized world than the witness of the `spiritual renewal’ that we see the Holy Spirit evoking in the most diverse regions and milieux…How then could this `spiritual renewal’ not be a `chance’ for the Church and for the world? And how, in this case, could one not take all the means to ensure that it remains so.”
Pope John Paul II, following the lead of Pope Paul VI, has also met with groups of charismatic people and, at one such encounter, said: “Remain in an attitude of constant and grateful availability for every gift that the Spirit wishes to pour into your hearts.” Encouraged by the leadership of Pope Paul VI and John Paul II, the Catholic bishops of the United States, Canada, and many bishops in South America and Europe, have written pastoral statements supporting and encouraging the renewal. The bishops of the United States, in their pastoral letter to the American Church on the Charismatic Renewal, wrote the following in 1984: ” … the charismatic renewal is rooted in the witness of the gospel tradition: Jesus is Lord by the power of the Spirit to the glory of the Father.”
Insofar as the Charismatic Renewal makes its own this primary reality of the Gospel, it witnesses to elements of the Good News that are central, not optional: the covenant love of the Father, the Lordship of Jesus, the power of the Spirit, sacramental and community life, prayer, charisms and the necessity of evangelization. Insofar as the renewal makes its own what is central to the enduring reality of the Gospel, it cannot be dismissed as peripheral to the life of the Church. Clearly the Charismatic Renewal is in and for the Church, not alongside the Church. Because the Charismatic Renewal is at the heart of the Church, it also has a role in parish renewal. We wish those in the Charismatic Renewal to know that we make our own the view of Yves Congar: “The Charismatic Renewal is a grace for the Church.”
We assure those in the Charismatic Renewal of the support they enjoy from the bishops of the United States, and we encourage them in their efforts to renew the life of the Church.
Perhaps a few words about the charisms are in order. Vatican II echoes St. Paul in stating: It is not only through the sacraments and Church ministries that the same Holy Spirit sanctifies and leads the people of God. He distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank…”The manifestation of the Spirit is given to everyone for profit.” [1 Cor 12:7]
These charismatic gifts, whether they be the most outstanding or the more simple and widely diffused, are to be received with thanksgiving and consolation, for they are exceedingly suitable and useful for the needs of the Church.” [L.G. 12]So the gifts, supernatural and ordinary, are gifts not to individuals, but to the community. These gifts are given to build up God’s people, and the Holy Spirit distributes “them individually to each person as he wishes. ” [1 Cor 12:11] Hence, they do not indicate the sanctity of the individual.
The gifts that are found in the Charismatic Renewal are outlined in St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians [Chapter 12] : “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… to another faith… to another gifts of healing… mighty deeds (miracles)… prophecy… discernment of spirits… variety of tongues… interpretation of tongues.” [1 Cor 12:7-10]
Hence, the list includes gifts through which God gives understanding about himself and the Christian walk; wisdom, knowledge, and discernment. Gifts through which God acts in his community; faith, healing, and miracles. And gifts through which God speaks to his people; prophecy, tongues, and interpretation of tongues.
The Gifts of the Spirit
The following is a brief description of these gifts:
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.
KNOWLEDGE: The gift by which the Spirit gives a person a deeper understanding of a Mystery of Faith or specific knowledge about a person or situation that could not be known, unless God revealed it. Many priests experience this gift in the sacrament of reconciliation.
FAITH: This 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 (believing Christian truths). Jesus told his disciples that “whoever says to this mountain, `Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him.” [Mark 11:23]
HEALING: This is one gift which Catholics accept in the lives of the saints, but find it difficult to accept in the lives of ordinary Christians. This gift speeds up the natural healing powers of the body. Jesus healed many who came to him, for example, Peter’s mother-in-law.
MIRACLES: This gift is different from healing in that it does not depend on the laws of nature. An example of a miracle, or mighty deed, is the raising of Lazarus from the dead.
PROPHECY: This is a gift by which God, through a person, speaks a message to an individual or to the whole Christian community. It is God 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 right now. It is not primarily nor necessarily a prediction of the future. St. Paul says, “One who prophesies does speak to human beings, for their building up, encouragement, and solace.” [1 Cor. 14:3]
DISCERNMENT OF SPIRITS: Through this gift one senses the presence of good or evil spirits. Many experience a form of discernment when meeting people. Some people come across as loving and good; others radiate negative aspects. Primarily, this gift discerns the presence of the Holy Spirit.
TONGUES: Catholic Charismatics believe that God gives the gift of praying in an “unknown tongue” to anyone who seeks it. The person is able to speak this new language of praise of God, even though the individual does not understand what is being said. Actually, it is the Spirit of God within the heart praying. In the Book of Romans, 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 inexpressible groanings. 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.” [Rom 8:26-27] This gift of tongues is mentioned 57 times in the New Testament!
INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES: Occasionally, a member of a the assembly will speak out some message in tongues. This utterance will be accompanied by an interpretation of its contents. Tongues and interpretation, St. Paul tells us, are the equivalent to the gift of prophecy.
Collectively, these gifts are for the building up of God’s people. They have existed in one form or another throughout the history of the Christian church. For example, the Orthodox Communions have them listed in their canon law, and many of their monks exhibit them.
The Prayer Group
At the present time in the Catholic Church, these “charismatic” gifts are usually experienced in the context of a prayer meeting. The main purpose of prayer meetings is to give glory to God our Father through our Lord Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Most of the meeting consists of praising God with spontaneous prayers and with singing. These periods of prayer will be punctuated by scripture reading, sharing, and prayers for the particular needs of individuals. During the meeting the charisms will be exercised, although they do not always play a part. The typical meeting follows St. Paul’s directive: “When you assemble, one has a psalm, another an instruction, a revelation, a tongue, or interpretation. Everything should be done for building up.” [1 Cor 14:26]
In another place, St. Paul charges the Christians: “be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and praying to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.” [Eph 5:18-20]
Finally, in one of his earliest writings, St. Paul exhorts Christians to “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances. Test everything; retain what is good. Refrain from every kind of evil” [1 Thes. 5:16-22]
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