After two years of searching for ways to battle a particular form of spiritual warfare, I found a three-day conference dedicated to healing and spiritual freedom. There was only one problem—it was a Charismatic Renewal event.
I knew little about the Charismatic Renewal movement. My impressions had been formed by hearing others refer to it as:
b) A recent development within the Church, making it automatically suspect;
c) A result of the 1970’s Catholic generation seeking a more emotional Church experience; and,
d) A blending of Catholicism with New Age philosophies.
But I needed new strategies to heal from a fractured friendship, so I decided to jump in and wade through any potential craziness to get to the useful information.
During the weekend, I witnessed Catholics doing things I’d never seen Catholics do before: speaking in tongues, delivering private revelation, and laying hands on one another to heal physical ailments. But I also saw these same Catholics doing all of the things I regularly see Catholics do: going to Adoration, praying the Liturgy of the Hours and the Rosary, going to Confession, and honoring the Saints. They were not flouting the old to cling to something new. And as the weekend went on, I recognized that every “new” element I witnessed was in fact biblically based. If the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, the bible, and all things Catholic are the same yesterday, today, and always, I realized that what I was witnessing could not be so easily dismissed.
The entrance procession at Mass was a little hard to take though. I am a traditionalist when it comes to the Mass—I don’t like it when people mess with it. There was quite a bit of dancing going on in the arena seats, and the celebrating priest shook hands with congregants as he energetically powered down the aisle. I was a bit uncomfortable. But then something truly new for me happened. The celebrant said, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all,” and the congregation responded with a resounding, “And with your Spirit,” the likes of which I’d never heard. Completely respectful, but highly audible! Until that moment I hadn’t realized the comparatively low decibel count of responses I was used to. While the absence of volume does not in itself indicate a lack of fervent devotion, the presence of volume does suggest a more active participation in the Mass. Given a choice, I would prefer to hear my fellow congregants praying the Mass together than have to assume that many are just as devotedly but quietly reflecting on the Mass in their hearts.
My biggest take away from the weekend: the need for relationship with the Holy Spirit. In fact, one could say a “renewed” relationship with the Holy Spirit. He is the member of the Trinity most directly present with us in the Church and in our lives here on earth, the Person who Jesus sent to guide us to all Truth, and yet I had rarely considered Him by name. Once I started reading and reflecting, I found that cooperating with His daily promptings is one of St. Ignatius’ five pillars of the spiritual life. I’d been missing a whole pillar, at least by name.
And the antidotes to spiritual oppression on which the conference focused? Prayer, studying the gospel so as to truly live it, eliminating areas of habitual sin, and striving to forgive in all things. Nothing New Age about that.
Copyright 2013 Sharon Rayner