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LAY ASSOCIATIONS-II.

Charismatics

The Charismatic Movement in the Catholic Church began in the late 1960s, just after the Second Vatican Council. It spread quickly and widely. Today it exists in 226 countries, with about twelve million members being active in any given month. The Movement sponsors prayer groups, Bible study, faith-sharing groups, conferences, healing Masses, covenant communities, evangelization schools, and social action groups. In Toronto alone there are over 100 prayer groups, which use eight different languages.

The effects of being active in the Movement are (a) bringing about a continuing personal conversion to Jesus through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit; (b) growing in holiness through prayer, the reading of Scripture, the celebration of the Sacraments, the study of our faith, the service of others, and work for justice; (c) working for the evangelization of nominal Christians, of the unchurched, and of one's culture; (d) seeking and fostering special spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit in the service of the Church and the world.

The special spiritual gifts are called charisms, a word which comes from the Greek. This particular aspect of the Movement has given it its name. It also is what makes it quite distinct from other movements. The charisms are gifts which are encountered in the New Testament as gifts from the Holy Spirit. They are, for example, wisdom, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment of spirits, and speaking in tongues. Of course God distributes charisms according to His own will.

The Movement speaks of "being baptized in the Holy Spirit." Now, everyone who is baptized is baptized in the Spirit. And those who are confirmed also receive the Spirit in a special way. What the Movement means by this "extra baptism in the Spirit" is "the awakening of the full life of the Spirit with the charisms" or "a reappropriation or stirring up, in a non-sacramental context, of what was already received" at baptism and confirmation.

The fruits of Baptism in the Holy Spirit are the rediscovery of the Scriptures, a renewed interest in prayer and the sacraments, a prayer for deliverance in the struggle against evil spirits, a love for and a commitment to the Church, and the desire to evangelize.

The charism of prophecy is not the ability to foretell the future but to build up, encourage, and console the faithful. The charism of healing is the power to invoke spiritual, emotional, psychological, social, or physical healing as a sign of the Holy Spirit's powerful presence in the world.

At the Charismatic meeting I enquired about, I was told that it lasts for two hours one night a week. It begins with praise and worship, at first lively and then leading to silence in the presence of God. Then those who would like to give a message to the group do so. It is always charitable and uplifting. Others recount an event in their lives to the praise of God. Scripture reading follows. Towards the end all those who wish them request prayers from all the others. Then groups of three are formed, and two members of each group ask the third what they would like them to pray for; this is asked of each one by the other two. Finally, a few prayer teams of two persons are made available for anyone who feels in need of healing. Light refreshments follow.

I undertook to interview some members of the Charismatic Movement in order to find out how their experience in it had affected their lives. One elderly gentleman said that he had been the recipient of healing on two occasions, the healing happening instantaneously as a result of prayer; his hands had been freed from arthritic pain on one occasion, and a severe pain in his body had disappeared suddenly on another occasion, with neither malady returning even after many years. He considered these healings to be a clear message to him that Jesus is with us and helps us with our problems.

A lady went to a Charismatic meeting with her life full of worldly business. She had not really known Jesus as a constant companion, and she was in poor health. In fact, she was despondent because her marriage was in trouble.

After a few meetings she came to realize that she could pray nearly everywhere. She experienced peace, love, and joy; indeed, all the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Her heart problem and her sinusitis disappeared, though she had not really prayed about them. She experienced peace even though she still had some tribulations, and realized that God uses us for His glory.

The Movement is highly organized in many dioceses. In some provinces there is also a provincial office, sometimes with a full-time director. The leaders dialogue on a continuing basis with local bishops, and often publish a quarterly newsletter and sponsor an annual provincial Charismatic Congress. There are also a national and an international office.

Those wishing more information should contact the local Charismatic centre by phoning the Chancery Office of their diocese.

In the Maritimes, charismatics produce the monthly newspaper The Atlantic Charismatic, in existence now for 19 years. Address: Atlantic Service Committee, P.O. Box 225, Amherst, N.S. B4H 3Z2, Tel: 1-902-667-7179

Communion and Liberation

In 1954 an Italian priest, Monsignor Luigi Giussani, founded a religious movement for youth (Student Youth) while he was teaching religion at a high school in Milan. The movement spread to many schools in Italy and into universities. In 1969 it changed its name to Communion and Liberation, to impart the notion that freedom results only from the Gospel and only when it is lived in communion with others.

It is therefore an outgrowth of the belief that God became a human being and died and rose again, and that he founded a Church to continue his life in us, a life shared with others. And that therefore we can become more truly human only in the Church, and live properly, and work for the world's salvation, only by living in the presence of Jesus.

There are in Italy at the present time about 100,000 members of this movement, of all ages. And the movement has now spread to 67 countries throughout the world.

The chief means of formation is a general weekly meeting, which involves reading, discussion, and meditation. The writings of Monsignor Giussani are often read at the meeting. The meeting is mission-minded, and is carried out mainly in work or study environments, orinparishes. Fallen-awayCatholics and non-Catholics are often invited, and many return to the practice of their faith or ask to become Catholics. And members, from time to time, are invited to take part in an organized charitable work. All, however, is purely voluntary.

In 1988 some members started an associated movement, Memores Domini, which consists of laity with a vow of virginity, who exercise their apostolate in the work environment.

Adults in the movement are encouraged to undertake cultural, charitable, or entrepreneurial works in line with the Church's social tradition, and many of these adults have founded The Company of Works, an association of more than 10,000 charitable and business organizations which try to put into practice the social doctrine of the Church.

No formal membership is necessary to belong to Communion and Liberation. Adult members who have some experience in the organization, and who wish to do so, may become members of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, which has a more intense program and planned activities. In 1982 it was registered with the Pontifical Council for the Laity. The Fraternity has over 40,000 members.

Communion and Liberation came to Canada in 1975 and has communities in Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton, and Vancouver. Its official publication is Traces, which is published in English and three other languages. There are about 30 members of Communion and Liberation in Toronto. I spoke to some of them and found them to be enthusiastic about having joined, by invitation from a friend. They are grateful for the friendship they have found, the realization that they are not alone. They also find that the meetings bring them peace through trust in God, and lead to a slow personal spiritual growth. They have an annual retreat at the Grand Seminary, Montreal, and also take their annual vacations together with their families and one another, usually in the Laurentians.
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Title Annotation:Communion and Liberation, and the Charismatic Movement in the Catholic Church
Author:Kennedy, Fr. Leonard A.
Publication:Catholic Insight
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Dec 1, 2000
Words:1388
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