The Church & The Renewal

Fidelity Is The Word


John Hogan

If the relationship between the Church and the Charismatic Renewal could be summed up in one word that word would be fidelity. The Renewal is faithful to the Church’s teachings from ancient times up to the present day. Why? Because the Renewal is based on these very same teachings and holds fast to them. The Renewal embraces the teachings of and the interpretation of the Scriptures by the Magesterium of the Church and so therefore it also respects the Papacy, believes in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, promotes Mass attendance and reception of the Sacraments as often as possible, and believes that the gifts of the Spirit are to be used for the building-up of the Church. These are all teachings of the Church and of the Renewal.

The Renewal exists to ‘renew’ the Church through the belief in and use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit – the charisms. These ordinary and extraordinary gifts are listed in 1 Cor. 12 as wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, mighty deeds (or miracles), prophecy, discernment of spirits, tongues and interpretation of tongues, apostles, helpers, administrators. Romans 12: mentions ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership and mercy. Eph. 4: goes on to list evangelists and pastors. The Pastoral Epistles speak of celibacy, voluntary poverty, martyrdom, hospitality, missionary, intercession and exorcism. This is not an exhaustive list, but does help us to see what gifts are available.

The sad fact of this relationship between the Church and the Renewal is that too many Catholics don’t know that there is and always has been a charismatic aspect to the Church. From the very beginning the Church itself has been and was intended to be charismatic. Not only during apostolic times was the Church charismatic, but in every age since! The apostles were not the only people who knew of the ‘promise of the Father’ – and had the faith necessary to let the Holy Spirit work through them. In just a few minutes of looking through ‘Butler’s Lives of the Saints’ I was able to find men and women in every age since the time of Jesus that used the charismatic gifts. You will also find in there that the use of these charisms was expected as a minimum from anyone who would be a saint! Why? I would think that it was because there were many ordinary people using these gifts at the time – and in order to be a saint a person would need to lead an extraordinary life in every respect.

I believe that those times past were still very similar to the present. Even though we have over 100 million Catholic charismatics in the world using the gifts of the Spirit, how many of them do you think will be canonized? Or for that matter, how many of them do you personally know? I would guess that the answer to both questions would be a very small percentage of the total number of charismatics. And yet, if the trend of the last 2000 years continues, nearly all of the saints canonized from this age will be people who used the gifts of the Spirit – as do most of the people reading this article right now! But Catholics looking back 2000 years to this age would probably be inclined to draw the same conclusions as many Catholics of today as they look back to the years between now and the days of Jesus – that the charismatic gifts were only for the saints! I disagree.

In Acts 2, during Peter’s Pentecost proclamation, he quoted the prophet Joel when he said “It will come to pass in the last days’ God says, ‘that I will pour out a portion of my spirit upon all flesh. Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. Indeed, upon my servants and my handmaids I will pour out a portion of my spirit in those days, and they shall prophesy. And I will work wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below…” That quote was the Old Testament prophecy of the Spirit’s outpouring on all people. The job of the Renewal is to help people to obtain a greater release of this Spirit in their lives so that they may help in bringing more people to Jesus - the building up of the Church. This is evangelization! And by the way, evangelization is also the stated primary goal of the Church. Again we have that fidelity.

“For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and of self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord,…” 2Tim 1: 6-8

We, like Timothy, have been given this same gift of the Holy Spirit through our Baptism – and then had it strengthened at our Confirmation by the laying on of hands. And we, like Timothy, need to make sure that this Spirit of God is not left to lie dormant within us, but is instead welcomed into our lives and invited to work through us in power for the good of His people – the Church. This is the Renewal’s goal and many different people seek it in many different ways. Sometimes the very first step needed is healing – and sometimes healing is needed to allow us to go deeper into our relationship with the Holy Spirit. The Renewal has in it many nationally and internationally recognized people such as Agnes Sanford, the Linn brothers, Francis McNutt, and Father DeGrandis whose ministry is inner healing. These people use the gifts in their ministries to help ‘set the captives free’ from the tentacles of being unforgiving - or whatever else may be burdening us and keeping us from living the ‘life in the Spirit’ that we should be enjoying. (By the way, this same Fr. DeGrandis will be the primary presenter at the All-Michigan Catholic Charismatic Conference to be held this August 2nd thru 4th this year in Midland, MI. See the notice in another part of this newsletter for details).
Another group from within the Renewal seeks to help us ‘stir into flame’ this gift we have received by helping us read and understand the Scriptures read at Mass every day. This is done through the use of the daily meditation books such as “The Word Among Us” and “One Bread, One Body” which were started and are staffed by people active in the Renewal. If you attended our annual retreat at Marygrove a few years ago then you probably met the Retreat-master, David Thorpe. David, besides giving retreats all over the country, has also been a contributing writer for some of the reflections in these meditation books. Again, we see the fidelity of the Renewal with the Church in helping spread the word of God among His people.

Even though the Renewal is visibly at work nationally and internationally we must also know that it is at work here in our diocese and in our parishes. We have a Liaison to the Bishop, Fr. Ray Zeugner, whose duties include making sure that fidelity to Church teachings is maintained and also that there is a line of communication between the Bishop and the Renewal. The Charismatic Renewal was called by the diocese to give a presentation explaining what the Renewal is to any parish that requests it. This is done through the “Setting Hearts On Fire” program - which also has presentations available on many other topics such as “Old Testament: Spirituality For Today”, “Sacraments: Touchstones of Catholic Identity”, and “The Blood of the New Covenant”. Kathy Gautcher is our representative to give our presentations on the Renewal. Another group that is active in our diocese and, although not technically a part of the Renewal is closely entwined with the Renewal, is the Marquette Diocese Koinonia group. This group puts on parish retreats all around the diocese with the purpose of bringing people closer to the Lord and setting their hearts aflame so they will want to be “doers of the word and not hearers only” within their parish. This is accomplished through teaching and testimony by a combination of clergy and lay people – the majority of which are members of the Renewal! I have also been involved with the Green Bay diocese Koinonia and have found that, like here in the Marquette diocese, most of the leaders and committed workers are members of the Renewal.

At the parish level our prayer groups are actively promoting the use of the gifts by presenting ‘Life in the Spirit’ seminars. Although many people have never heard of these seminars or of the ‘baptism in the Spirit’, which is the highlight of the seminar, here is what the National Catholic Council of Bishops Ad Hoc Committee for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal had to say about them:

“…it is our conviction that the baptism in the Holy Spirit, understood as the reawakening in Christian experience of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit given in Christian initiation, and manifested in a broad range of charisms, including those closely associated with the Charismatic Renewal, is a part of the normal Christian life.”
And so the Renewal, through its main method of outreach and evangelization, maintains its fidelity to the Church.

Also at the parish level, the Renewal, through our prayer groups and their use of the gifts, has brought a greater use of the gift of healing into the Church. In our prayer group in Manistique a representative of our core team meets with the Pastor occasionally and asks him if there is anything he would like us to do for the parish. This has led to the prayer group being responsible for putting on parish days of prayer for different occasions. It has also resulted in the Pastor putting on special Masses where the Sacrament of the Sick was administered to those in need of it – and – prayer teams from the prayer group prayed for the needs or healing of those who came forward seeking prayer. The church is always full for these Masses and the priest and prayer teams are always kept pretty busy.

I would like to show you what the Pope and other leaders of our Church have to say concerning the charismatic gifts, the Renewal, and the Church:

“Since the ways of the Spirit always lead to Christ and His Church, since it is the Spirit Himself who guides those He has established as Bishops to care for the Church of God (cf. Acts 20:28), there can be no conflict between the fidelity to the Spirit and fidelity to the Church and her Magisterium. Whatever shape the Charismatic Renewal takes - in prayer groups, in covenant communities, in communities of life and service - the sign of its spiritual fruitfulness will always be a strengthening of communion with the universal Church and the local Churches. Your role as a coordinating organization is to help all these various facets of the Renewal to work together in union with the Pastors of the Church for the good of the whole Body.” Address of Pope John Paul II to the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Office Council – March 14, 1992

“I have often had occasion to stress that there is no conflict or opposition in the Church between the institutional dimension and the charismatic dimension, of which movements are a significant expression. Both are co-essential to the divine constitution of the Church founded by Jesus, because they both help to make the mystery of Christ and his saving work present in the world.” John Paul II - Message for the World Congress of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities – May 27, 1998,

“Today charismatic communities are also called to take this step, and I am sure that the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services will play an important role in developing this ecclesial awareness in the various Catholic charismatic communities throughout the world. What I said then in St Peter's Square, I repeat to all of you meeting in Rimini: ‘The Church expects from you the "mature' fruits of communion and commitment’ ”
Message of John Paul II To The Catholic Charismatic Renewal – April 24, 2000.

“We encourage the whole Church to look into and embrace baptism in the Holy Spirit as the power of personal and communal transformation with all the graces and charisms needed for the upbuilding of the Church and for our mission in the world. We want also to encourage those in the Renewal to continue to bring awareness of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit to the Church… and to continue in faithful cooperation with the mission and vision of the local Church in which they serve.” National Catholic Council of Bishops Ad Hoc Committee for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal – March 1997.

From the Diocese of Marquette Michigan, U.P. Catholic Charismatic Newsletter (Spring, 2002 )