There is a prayer, expressed by Pope John XXIII on the calling of the Council, which lies in the heart of those who today identify themselves in the large spiritual movement known as the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.
This prayer is:
“Oh Divine Spirit, in our age work again miracles and wonders as if a new Pentecost would come!”
And the Spirit soon answered. Within one year from the Council’s end, this “turmoil,” this “new Pentecost” began blazing in the Church. At first a little group was formed by students and teachers at an American Catholic University in Pittsburg (Pennsylvania); this group experienced the same mystic and charismatic events that were experienced in the Cenacle. Then, in time, the wonder spread like wildfire and involved millions of Catholics all over the world.
This renewal, however, is more than numerical expansion. What converts people is the spiritual fruit which distinctly separates Charismatic men and women from others of similar age, culture and social status.
The first fruit is the experience “live and tangible” that everyone receives from the Person of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is rediscovered as a present and operating Reality and as a Principle molding one’s whole life (that is, a Principle that molds individuals and events thus giving them a shape).
Next is the discovery and the practical exercise of charisms and spiritual gifts (already received in Baptism and Confirmation but often kept idle in our souls). These gifts, in the love and discernment of a community, are used to benefit everyone.
Finally, a new vision of the Church becomes more and more visible as a Mystic Body, in which every member is called to actively play a role and where the immense charismatic and sacramental richness can be more consciously obtained.
Sometimes charisms may strike people with an “extraordinary” feature, as often happens with the gift of tonguesand the interpretation of tongues; the gifts of prophecy, deliverance and healing, the gift of the word of knowledge and the gift of rest in the Spirit. As a result, one might be tempted to deny the gifts and stop using them. However, the view of charisms depends on our human consideration of things and events as it is the Spirit who is at work – through the Church, the Mystic Body of Jesus – for everything is extraordinary in Him and everything, in a certain sense, is not so.
It is evident that all will be verified and proved true by the climax of a real ecclesiality, a real community confrontation and discernment. Nevertheless people should always keep their personal psycological balance when using charisms.
Moreover the term, “movement”, which is used to define the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, must be understood as a “breath of the Spirit” which continuously renews and moulds the Church. The Church, in this sense, is a spiritual structure, whose goal is to grow and increase. The Renewal has occurred to remind the whole Church of this: “You are charismatic – all your children are such, from the oldest one to the youngest one. And all the charisms are necessary for the building of this Body because the Lord never works anything useless.”
A further explanation is required on the experience of the Holy Spirit which each of the CCR followers help to make. This experience is called “effusion of the Spirit” (as well as “Baptism in the Spirit”) and is not a new sacrament but is rather a rediscovery – alive, immediate and experienced – of the seal of the Spirit which has been imprinted on us at the moment of our Baptism and Confirmation.