Having begun a little salvo on the use of the phrase “Baptism in the Spirit”, I don’t want any of you out there to get me wrong. I am all in favour of people discerning and using their Holy Spirit given charisms, and also in favour of new (and old) movements in the Church that promote specific charisms. But I believe that all Christians receive charisms for ministry through the Sacrament of Baptism. The reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation strengthens and confirms these charisms, as can a later subsequent experience of the Holy Spirit, but even those who have not received valid Confirmation (eg. Protestant Christians) or this subsequent experience (eg. non-Charismatic Christians) have received charisms for ministry. Whether they have discerned their charism or have put it to use is another matter, of course. That’s why we have programs such as “Called and Gifted”.
The Pope has just recently made comments in his latest “question and answer” session with the Roman clergy. Here he gave two rules for ecclesial movements to flourish in the Church:
1) As St Paul says, “Do not extinguish charisms.” If the Lord gives us new gifts, we must receive them with thanksgiving. The Holy Spirit gives us new initiatives with new aspects of Christian life.
2) But if the movements are really gifts from the Holy Spirit, then they will seek to unify, edify and serve the Church.
He used, as an example of the past, the Fransciscans, and as an example of the present, The Neo-Catechumenal Way. I believe that CCR has demonstrated in an exemplary way both these qualities, however, I believe there is also need for what the Pope calls “patient dialogue” which can overcome the “many complications” which occur with the rise of new movements and the recognition of new charisms. However, CCR ought not to assume that their undergirding theology has been given the imprimatur of official Church teaching, just because the Church has received their movement and charism as a gift from God.
What the Pope had to say on this matter is very wise, and I often wonder what today’s Church might have been like if a) on the Roman side, the ecclesiastical hierarchy of the early 16th Century had had the ears to hear what Martin Luther was saying to the Church, and b) on Luther’s side, if he had been a little more concerned about serving the unity and edification of the Church.