The Flame: July & August, 2006

Dear Readers of The Flame,

“Can a person be a good Catholic without being charismatic?”

I was part of a panel discussion on integrating charismatic renewal into parish life at the Franciscan University conference for Priests, Deacons and Seminarians in June. I did not know if the older person who asked the above question was a priest or deacon or whether he was favorable or unfavorable toward the charismatic renewal.

However, we (the panel) had to give some sort of answer. I started our response by saying, “It depends on what one means by charismatic.” St. Paul tells us, “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” (I Corinthians 12:7) All Catholics have been given gifts (charisms) by the Spirit so as to build up Christ’s body, the Church. Paraphrasing Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa: just as the Lord gave the sacraments to the Church for the good of the individual, so the Lord gives the gifts of the Spirit to individuals for the good of the Church. Does this mean that all Catholics need to raise their hands, speak in tongues and shout praise the Lord? No. However, it does mean that all Catholics need to be open to the Holy Spirit and exercise the gifts that the Spirit gives them. In this sense all Catholics ought to be charismatic in order to be “good” Catholics.

Fr. Richard Champaigny O. Carm. and Fr. Timothy Graff, the other two members of the panel said similar things. Fr. Richard highlighted other charisms, less identified with our current charismatic renewal but biblical nonetheless: hospitality, administration, et cetera.

Fr. Timothy said that he does not speak of charismatic renewal to his parishioners. However, he always speaks about relying on and being open to the movement of the Holy Spirit. He said, “A person may argue about this or that charismatic manifestation of the Spirit. However, no Catholic can deny their need for the Holy Spirit’s help without denying something foundational about our faith.”

The older gentleman who raised the question stopped me after the session. As it turned out, it was Fr. Ken Sommers SM. He served St. Joseph High School in the 1970’s, when the charismatic renewal flourished among the students there. I do not think he raised the question because he needed an answer. I believe he asked the question because he wanted all the priests, deacons and seminarians to hear:

Our annual charismatic conference will be Friday, August 11 and Saturday, August 12 at Magnificat High School in Rocky River. Our theme is “Walk Humbly With Our God” from Micah 6:8. At our conference we try to provide an environment where we let the Holy Spirit out of the box. The gifts of the Spirit are present and deepened among God’s people.

Please join me in August. If you are like me, your gifts may need to be deepened and refreshed by our gathering. Hope to see you there!!!

In His Spirit,

Fr. Bob Franco

PS: PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW! This year’s Pentecost mass was glorious. Many Life in the Spirit Seminar participants were wonderfully baptized in the Holy Spirit. I want to thank all who made this event possible, especially prayer groups and Fanning the Flame, who organized and put on the Life in the Spirit Seminars.