What the Lord is doing for and through the
Catholic Charismatic Renewal:
Reflections of a pioneer
By Patti Mansfield
“Whenever the Spirit intervenes He leaves people astonished. He creates events of amazing newness. He radically changes persons and history.”
(Words of Pope John Paul II at the Vigil of Pentecost, 1998) We are witnesses that the Spirit has intervened! Yes, we are astonished! And He is in the process of renewing, not only us, but the face of the earth! Over these 40 years, here are the questions I’ve been asked most often.
Why would God start such a significant move of His Spirit with such an insignificant group of people?
It’s His style!
Isn’t it wonderful that our God is so humble that He associates with “little ones” ...shepherds, carpenters, fishermen, In our case, it was ordinary university students who were the recipients of an extraordinary visitation of the Holy Spirit. I think the Lord wanted to make it absolutely clear that the Charismatic Renewal was His idea, His initiative, His work. It was - and still is -pure grace: unmerited, undeserved gift!
The lesson: Let God be God! Pray, seek Him, then expect Him to act. Perhaps another lesson is that God wants to mobilize young people and the laity for the New Evangelization still before us. Invest in young people and ask God to send a new move of the Spirit upon them.
What is at the heart of the Charismatic Renewal?
Baptism in the Holy Spirit! My summary of being baptized in the Spirit is found in Romans 5:5: “The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Millions now know the Father as “Abba”...a dear “Daddy”. “Jesus is Lord” is not just a phrase out of the Bible. It is life and life more abundantly! To know Jesus as a living Savior, Master, Friend, Lover, LORD - all this is thanks to the Baptism in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is no longer the forgotten Person of the Trinity but the One whom we invoke with a continual “Come Holy Spirit!” over every aspect of our lives and work.
The lesson: Do all we can to bring people into the Baptism in the Spirit. It is a grace for the entire church. My friends in Brazil, where 12 million are already baptized in the Spirit, have set a goal to reach another 20 million with this grace in the Jubilee Year. Remember what the Baptism in the Spirit has done for you. Tell your story again. Offer Life in the Spirit Seminars, plan Days of Renewal, retreats, conferences where people can come into contact with this living stream of grace which is the Baptism in the Spirit. Pastors, encourage your young people to expect to receive charismatic as well as sanctifying gifts of the Spirit at Confirmation. Have your congregation renew their own Confirmation just like we renew our Baptismal promises. At the Vigil of Pentecost, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI led a ceremony to renew the Sacrament of Confirmation with 400,000 members of ecclesial movements and new communities. It was this very impulse to “renew confirmation” on the Duquesne Weekend that led us into the Baptism in the Spirit.
How do you feel to have been there at the beginning and to see the scope of this movement today? How do you feel to have spoken to Pope Benedict XVI on behalf of all the movements on the Vigil of Pentecost last year?
I feel in some small way like Our Lady. What one “Yes” can do! When Mary said her “Yes” to God, she could not imagine the ramifications of that assent....those mysteries -joyful, luminous, sorrowful, glorious - that awaited her. Mary’s surrender changed the course of human history and now all generations call her blessed. Your “Yes” and my “Yes” are the same. They unleash a chain of events in the lives of others whose conversions are linked to ours. It’s truly mysterious and wonderful. I can’t tell you how many people all over the world feel linked to me simply because I said “Yes” to God on the “Duquesne Weekend” as a 20 year old girl.
The lesson: Take your place! Be like Mary in radical openness to the plan of God. Remember: “You are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus for good works that God has prepared ahead of time for you to walk in them (Eph. 2:10). This passage came alive for me as I stood before the Holy Father last June, aware of my nothingness yet confident. ( “even to audacity,” as St. Therese loved to say), confident in the power of God’s Spirit. Who knows what surprises the Holy Spirit has in store for you!
“Glory be to Him whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine, glory be to Him in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, world without end. Amen! “(Eph. 3:20)
This article was reprinted with permission from ICCRS Newsletter Vol. XXXIII, Number 1 / Jan Feb 2007.