Charismatic renewal is a growing movement within the Catholic Church. It is a spiritual movement which focuses on a deep relationship with the Holy Spirit, and it highlights the many “charisms” that are given to Catholics through the sacraments of baptism and confirmation.
Initially, this particular movement was found within various Protestant denominations, who emphasized on the list of spiritual gifts (charisms) given by the Holy Spirit in St. Paul’s writing.
Roughly, it started in the 1960s and was introduced into the Catholic Church by faculty members and students from Duquesne University. The starting of this movement is best explained below by the National Service Committee of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.
“The Catholic Charismatic Renewal as it is in existence today is the outgrowth from a retreat held in February 1967 which consisted of several faculty members and students from Duquesne University. Some of the students experienced a movement of the Spirit of God called being “baptized in the Holy Spirit.” Previously, the professors had been “baptized in the Spirit” a week or two before. The action of God was also prepared for in a very human way by the preparation of the prayerful students in reading the Acts of the Apostles and a book entitled “The Cross and the Switchblade”.
From then onward, it started to spread rapidly in the United States and throughout the whole world. The Diocese of Lafayette describes what marked the movement, “They had a renewed commitment to prayer and a personal relationship to Jesus, a yearning for more knowledge in their Catholic faith and to the gospel call to bring the message of the Jesus to others, and the use of the gifts and charisms of the Holy Spirit to bring this about.”
Popes Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis have all given their support of the movement, as they encourage it to be an authentic spiritual movement within the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict XVI particularly stated the positive attributes of the charismatic renewal.
There is an emphasis within the Renewal on a proper discernment of charisms, in a way of asking the Holy Spirit to reveal which gifts God has given to them for the overall good of the Church.
This is always expressed in “ordinary” charisms, such as the charism of “encouragement,” “faith” or “giving.” Moreover, the Renewal is most often known by others for certain “extraordinary” gifts which are seen visibly at charismatic prayer meetings. And this would include the charism of “healing,” “intercessory prayer” or “speaking in tongues.”
Above all, all these charisms are to be tested and Catholics are advised that these charisms are not supposed to bring attention to themselves or others, but to God. The Renewal places more emphasis on how these charisms are never to be used for personal gain, but are always at the service of the Church and designed for the ultimate glory of God.
As it can be a strange movement from the perspective of an outsider, when it is authentic and stays true to the teachings of the Catholic Church, the Renewal can however, bring much healing and peace to a person’s soul.