by JENNY McPHEE

Pope Francis says “The greatest gift the [Catholic Charismatic] Renewal has to offer is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.” Before he was Pope, Cardinal Bergoglio’s initial impression of charismatic Catholics was that he thought they had confused the Holy Scriptures with a school of samba. As he worked with these people in Argentina, he found a new appreciation for their gifts, worship and faith.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. In 1967, at Duquesne University in Pennsylvania (founded by members of the Congregation
of the Holy Spirit), gifts of prophecy and speaking in tongues were poured out on a group of students who had prayed faithfully for a year for each other, and for the spiritual gifts.

A new wave of blessings and gifts is being poured out on young Christians today, with prophecy and tongues being the new norm.

Diana Ingle, the national chairperson of the CCR in New Zealand and also the head of the CCR regional sub-committee of Asia and Oceania said many Christian youth in New
Zealand are operating in, and are naturally incorporating into ministry, the charismatic gifts.

Dunedin Bishop Colin Campbell, Fr Rick Loughnan, VG, Fr John Rea, SM, and Fr Jack O’Connor joined the Golden Jubilee Catholic Charismatic Renewal retreat in Christchurch on February 25.

Fr Rea gave an account of his journey, leading to the Marist order and an international healing ministry. In the early part of his journey, people prayed over him several
times that he receive the gifts of the Spirit. Firstly, he received extraordinary
peace but no gifts, next a confirming of his calling to the priesthood, and finally the gift of tongues – which is usually the first gift received.

Fr Rea prayed with people for a deepening of expectant faith. Expectant faith is a gift from the Holy Spirit, and strengthens other gifts.

He said “The road to miracles is expectant faith”. Jesus had expectant faith. He believed in his heart that what he asked the Father would give. “Whatever you ask for, believe
you will get it. Jesus said and did only what the Father was saying and being.” John 5:19.

International CCR leader Michelle Moran and leaders of the Catholic fraternities have been asked to start preparing for the establishment of a new Roman dicastery,
potentially called “Current of Faith”, in the Vatican for the work of the Holy Spirit through Catholic Charismatic Renewal groups, ministries and communities. Pope
Francis is expected to make a public announcement at the CCR 50th Jubilee in Rome, from May 31 to June 4, clarifying the name, intentions and his possible oversight of
this new dicastery. He has asked all charismatics and all who would like to, to come and join him. A number of tours have been organised from Australia.

A National Catholic Charismatic Conference is to be held in Palmerston North, on September 22-24.

This will feature international speaker Bob Canton, who has a healing gift. A healing rally will be held. All are welcome. See www.ccrnz.org for more information.

Belgian Cardinal Suenens, the key person to maintain the Charismatic
renewal in the Church, described it as a” Flow of Grace”.

In a homily he said “May the charismatic renewal disappear as such and be transformed into a pentecostal grace for the whole Church. To be faithful to its origins
the river must lose itself in the ocean. If the river comes to a halt the water becomes stagnant, should the renewal, this ‘current of grace’ not end in the ocean of God, in the
love of God, it would work for itself, and this is not of Jesus Christ. This is your identity, to be a current of grace.”

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  1. A certain well-known religious of Catholic charismatic renewal spoke of a vision he had had of a fire in a forest. He said for him this was the C.C.R in the church, roaring through the church as might the fire in a forest.
    It is also “poor man’s mysticism”, a term used by Abbot Garaets of the Benedictine monastery of Pecos new Mexico, a retreat centre for spiritual directors, at a Leaders retreat in Melbourne Australia. The poor are graced and become a strength, even “pillars of the church”.
    Once “The Imitation of Christ”, the mystical work of St Thomas A’Kempis stood SECOND ONLY to the BIBLE in published books. Now Harry Potter has claimed a centre stage for the spiritual in the lives of many. Is there a hunger for spiritual matters? The public has voted with their wallets. Wicca also has had a huge following. These matters should concern liturgists, and clergy, not to mention those in catechesis, in colleges, schools (and in C.C.R).
    Is the church concerned? There can be no doubt that a personal Jesus is central to the move from the anthropocentric to the Christocentric. It paves the way for private adoration (something Sr Briege McKenna does for 2 hours each day), and for a focus on Eucharist itself. That means more Catholics will accept the “REAL PRESENCE” of Jesus, body and blood, as a sacred entity, rather than mere “bread” and “wine”. The Sacred will be respected, and the immediate flow-on is towards youth. Youth know if their parents respect the Sacred there must be something there for them. So they anticipate. They are expectant. They then want to enter the mystery. They seek and find. Discovery brings hope.
    In real terms, it (C.C.R), provides a strength for Thomists, who want to preserve the writings of St Thomas Aquinas and keep interest in his work alive, so that the church is strengthened by it. Thus the distractions of modernism, positivism, are rejected by those whose place it is to pass on the faith. Miracles of the Eucharist, apparitions of Mary become more relevant and used, instead of being consigned to a hidden corner of Catholicism.
    Many areas of church overlap into C.C.R., and the fundamental that marks all aspects of these is JOY. (St Augustine: The most infallible sign of the presence of God).

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