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 Charismatic Renewal

by Elizabeth Etondi Elive , London


1.    Power for the New Evangelisation


Sometime ago, I attended a Charismatic Retreat on Evangelisation, lead by Fr. Pat Collin. The priest was on fire with the Holy Spirit as he led us into an intensive period of prayer. With words that spoke to the heart, he demonstrated how the Charismatic Renewal Movement is a very effective gift to the Church today for the New Evangelisation. Christians are enabled to experience the Holy Spirit in a new way and to be empowered for mission. In the present climate of our times, we need to undergo a personal transformation of our Christian life and to manifest the gifts of the Holy Spirit for an effective evangelisation.


Pope Paul VI saw the Charismatic Renewal as a new opportunity for the Church. This experience, which involves the call for personal conversion and surrender to God’s love in Jesus Christ, leads us to a more profound personal relationship with the Jesus Christ, who fortifies us with the gift of the Holy Spirit. “You will receive Power from above when the Holy Spirit comes and you will be my witnesses…” Acts 1:8. This grace is abundantly flowing for us today through the Charismatic Renewal and similar movements in all Christian Churches.


The Holy Spirit – The Power for Effective Witness


Jesus Christ is the model of the would-be disciple. Three distinct, yet interconnected aspects of his preaching ministry are discernible: spending the night in prayer, going forth in the strength of that encounter with His Heavenly Father, filled with the Holy Spirit, to proclaim the Kingdom of God and, performing miracles and healings.  These latter confirmed the Power of God at work in him and the message he was proclaiming. We find this idea clearly illustrated in Scripture when John the Baptist sent messengers from prison to ask Jesus if he was the Messiah or whether they should wait for another? Jesus simply pointed to the signs of the messianic era at work in his ministry - The blind see, the lame walk, demons are cast out and the Good News is preached to the poor - to confirm his identity.


Jesus later gave the same mandate to his apostles: ‘Go proclaim this message; “The Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers and drive out demons.”’(Mt 10:7) Then to the disciples, “Heal the sick and say to them that the kingdom of God is at hand.” These “returned rejoicing that even the devils obeyed when they called on the name of Jesus.” (Lk 10:8, 17)

St. Luke underlines the power at work in these same people who would continue the Mission of Jesus in the world. “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the earth.”


 The Holy Spirit came on Pentecost Day and they were indeed filled with new life and the Power to proclaim the message of God and perform miracles and healings in the name of Jesus. Three thousand people were added to their number that day and the harvest went on by the day.  Effective proclamation flows from a life of prayer filled with the Holy Spirit and works of power can be expected. “It is not you who speak, but the Spirit of God living in you.”


Prayer and praise, preaching, healing and miracles characterise the Charismatic movement, but the movement is primarily about the working of the Holy Spirit in our midst, making us whole and empowering us to be Witnesses that Jesus is alive. God is renewing the Church by the gift of the Holy Spirit which is the gift of the New Covenant.


God loved the world so much that he sent his only Son… (Jn 3:16)  Wherever the children of God are worshipping, God’s love reaches out to them in their need, to heal and perform miracles.


The Holy Spirit at Work in the Church


The life of the early church was inundated with the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit led the Christians in their decisions, (Acts 15:28). The Holy Spirit responded with a powerful presence when they prayed for power to witness (Acts 4: 23-31). The Spirit guided them (Acts 8:29, 39), and led them in their missionary journeys enabling them to discern where God was leading (16:6-7). St Paul recounts mystical experiences given to him by the Spirit, which strengthened him in his sufferings during his missionary journeys. In fact, the Holy Spirit’s presence continues to lead the Church through the ages and many Christians experience the Power of God moving them to do great things or simply to live as God intends.


It is the Church’s teaching that all the baptised received the “Baptism of Water and the Spirit” which Christ promised to those who believed in him. At Confirmation they were sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit to become mature Christians ready to witness to our faith.


Christians today are likewise experiencing a new transformation in their lives, which could be likened to a “born again experience”. For most people it comes with being prayed over for the Baptism in the Holy Spirit in a Charismatic prayer setting (although not exclusively). It is a life-changing experience and open to growth. Those who have received the grace of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit testify to having received a new life as distinct from their former one. Something new has happened accompanied by capacities they did not have before or had not been aware of. A new power is at work in them.


The Charismatic Renewal Experience

What is it?

To be continued…


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