Charismatic Renewal in our Benefice

Charismatic Renewal in a ‘Catholic’ Benefice?

Charismatic renewal is an experience and expression of the Holy Spirit which makes Jesus a living reality in the life of the believer. Although often found in Evangelical Churches and influenced by some of the teachings of Pentecostalism, it is also found in Roman Catholic and Anglo-Catholic churches.

The late Cardinal Leon-Joseph Suenens described Charismatic Renewal as ‘a current of grace, a renewing breath of the Spirit for all members of the Church’, and the movement has been favourably regarded by the last four Popes.

Charismatic Christians believe that certain spiritual gifts (‘Charismata’ in Greek) are bestowed on worshippers today just as they were in the early church, and their worship often involves the lifting of hands in a gesture of praise and surrender, praying in tongues and prophecy.

Where Catholics (of either the Roman or Anglican variety) are touched by Charismatic Renewal, there is often a deeper devotion to Christ in the Eucharist and a fuller appreciation of the liturgy.  

Within the Church of England, the On Fire Mission (OFM) is an inclusive network open to all which is dedicated to promoting Charismatic Renewal blended with the riches of Catholic Spirituality. Our Rector, Fr Trevor has links with OFM and is a member of its Midlands planning group. Members of our congregations attend an annual OFM Midlands Renewal Day and an annual OFM conference at the High Leigh Conference Centre in Hertfordshire.

Some members of our congregations are involved in Charismatic Renewal, others not, so we always ensure that we offer a range of services in a variety of styles that respect and express our Catholic tradition.

The New Fire Mass

This monthly celebration replaces our traditional ‘Parish Mass’, usually on the third Sunday of the month at 10.00am.  We use contemporary music combined with traditional ritual and describe the service as having ‘a gentle Charismatic edge’.     

‘ABLAZE!’

This is a new service held on the first Sunday evening of the month at 6.00pm on alternate months, starting from 1st March 2020. Once again it’s a celebration of the Eucharist that combines a Catholic liturgy with contemporary music. However, it is more overtly Charismatic in style and is aimed at those in our congregation and further afield who want to explore Charismatic Renewal and experience more fully the Gifts of the Spirit.

The notes below form the basis of a leaflet that is handed to those attending ‘ABLAZE’ for the first time and explain more fully what to expect at this particular service.

MUSIC and WORSHIP

Charismatic worship is generally very joyful and uplifting as we celebrate God’s love. Our contemporary music this evening will reflect this. The words of all the worship songs may be in a worship booklet or may be shown on a screen to enable those who want to worship God by, for example, raising their arms in the air to do so unencumbered.  Please don’t feel embarrassed about what you do or don’t do. No-one will be judging you; just feel free be yourself and express your love for God in the way that works best for you.   

ALTAR CALL

Sometimes, after the Address/Sermon, we may invite people who wish to do so to come to the altar rail to rededicate their lives to Christ and/or to receive what is often called Baptism (or ‘Anointing’) in the Holy Spirit.  It’s important to understand that this isn’t a second baptism but is simply the term that is used when someone opens themselves to the Holy Spirit for the renewal of their Spiritual life. 

PRAYER MINISTRY

During Holy Communion there will be opportunity to receive Prayer Ministry (usually in the Choir Vestry at the back of church and/or in the Lady Chapel). This will be offered by a team of two or three people. If there hasn’t been an ’altar call’ earlier in the service, you may want the team to pray that you will be filled afresh with the Holy Spirit, or you may want prayers for healing or even prayers for someone else whom you know and love.  

After receiving Communion, when you see that a team is free, go over to them when you’re ready. They will ask your name and may check out with you whether you prefer to stand or sit down while they pray for you.  They may also ask whether you are happy to be touched gently, perhaps with a hand laid on your shoulder or on your head. The choice is entirely yours, so please don’t be afraid to clearly express your preference. If you have any specific needs or prayer requests, do feel free to tell the team. Everything will be treated in the strictest confidence.   

 

RESTING IN THE SPIRIT

During the altar call or prayer ministry, some people may ‘rest in the Spirit’.  If standing, they fall gently backwards, and the prayer ministers – who are always prepared for this – catch the person and lower them gently to the ground. The person isn’t unconscious; they remain fully aware of what is happening around them. They are simply in a totally relaxed and restful state as the Holy Spirit works in them. People get up again when they’re ready, usually after only a few minutes.  If during prayer ministry you feel a little light-headed or you are overcome with a sense of wanting to surrender yourself to God’s love, just let yourself go. Your prayer team will look after you.

PRAYING IN TONGUES

At various points in the service you may hear someone praying (or singing) in tongues, or you may even find yourself ‘babbling’ in a strange language. This is common in Charismatic circles and is a sign of the Holy Spirit at work. Some people believe that they are given a special heavenly language in which to praise God; others believe that tongues are simply a sort of joyful ‘baby-talk’ – random sounds through which we can worship free of the constraints of everyday language.  In either case, although it can seem a little strange if you’re not used to it, the gift of tongues is a sign of God’s love for us and our love for him and is nothing to be afraid of.

PROPHECY, PICTURES AND WORDS OF KNOWLEDGE

Most people have had the experience of occasionally feeling that God is telling them something or urging them to say something in a particular situation. Charismatics trust in the guidance and promptings of the Holy Spirit and will therefore often say these things out loud in case they have a meaning for someone present. This may happen if we have a time of ‘waiting on the Holy Spirit’ towards the end of Mass.  When people do this, they’re not acting like a ‘fortune teller’, nor are they exercising any kind of special power or indulging in any form of trickery. If something said in this way resonates with you, it could well be the Holy Spirit using another person to convey a message to you; so it is once again a sign of God’s love.