“Witness of Love:
The vocation of the Charismatic Renewal ”
by Jim Murphy
When we speak of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, several images often come to mind: enthusiastic praise, lively music, profound joy, the power of the charisms, or profound experiences of prayer. All of these associations are appropriate. The Renewal is all of this, and much more. As wonderful as these things are, they point to a deeper reality, a more profound experience, the love of God.
The men and women of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal are men and women who seek to live by the Spirit of God. Those who live in the Spirit of God will ultimately become the witnesses of God's love.
GOD'S LOVE FOR US: We must remember that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is a great sign and action of the love of God on our behalf. Almighty God is offering us an almost unimaginable gift, the opportunity to live a life in deep union with Him. Human beings sharing life with the Eternal Godhead! How is this possible? God in His infinite and perfect love poured out the Holy Spirit upon us that we might be drawn into His very heart. How marvelous is the love of God! Yet the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives is not only to benefit us. As we are empowered, transformed, and animated by the Holy Spirit, we go out into the world to help bring the rest of humanity into a "Life in God's Spirit, a Life in God's Love." We have received so much from God. How could we possibly keep it to ourselves?
PROCLAMATION: Too many of us, the love of God is so present, so much a part of our daily lives, that we often forget that many, many people really do not know that they are loved by their heavenly Father. Many of them need to be gently yet clearly told about God, His plan of salvation, and His deep and personal love for each individual. Even if people intellectually know about God, they must hear the message of love presented again in the heart. The Holy Spirit wants this message proclaimed and will help us do so, if we are sensitive and obedient to His promptings; how much to say and when to be quiet, what scripture to share to help make a point, etc.This message is often backed up by God with demonstrations of His love... charisms. Charisms are a sign of God's love at work in the world today. Many who have experienced the charisms feel that they have found "living proof" that God cares for them. We must be willing to be obedient to the leadings of God and use the charisms in our proclamation of this Good News.
ACTIVATION: St. James reminds us that simply talking about God's love is not enough....it must be brought forth through action. The way we treat other people is another way that the love of God is demonstrated in our world today. Many people who have had an encounter with the Holy Spirit find themselves drawn into some kind of tangible ministry; visiting the sick, feeding the hungry; defending the unborn, etc. For them, it is inconsistent to have received so much love from God and give so little back to the world. They therefore, pour themselves out for others, as Christ poured Himself out for them.
God often uses His servants to make His love tangible to the world today.
INTERCESSION: Praying for the needs of others is a great way to be a witness of God's love. To some degree, we share in the struggles of those for whom we pray. We "wrestle with the angel" on their behalf, so that they too might experience the love of God. True intercession has no place for smug, self-righteousness on our part. We too, are poor sinners, constantly in need of the loving mercy of God. Our prayer is only our petition on their behalf for what we all need .....the love of God.
MANIFESTATION: Have you ever been in the same room with someone who had experienced the love of God? Their hearts are so united with God that their union is perceptible by those around them. A priest once told me that a big part of his personal conversion came when he walked past a very holy nun. They never even spoke to one another! As he passed her, he actually felt his heart burn with love of God! After a few times of being in this sister's presence, his own heart seemed permanently "inflamed" and he too, began to exude that mystical Presence. All of this was because he literally walked past another human being who carried the love of God in her heart! Never underestimate the power of a heart immersed in the love of God! It literally can change the people who come into its presence! Of course, this witness of love is not something we can merely conjure up within ourselves. It is all by the grace of God. If we love God, if we are docile to the Holy Spirit, if we are overwhelmed by the love of God and share that love with others....it is all because God loved us first.
Reprinted with permission of ICCRS November/December 2002 .