A new day has dawn on us. It is the day of Pentecost. Basic Catechism tells us Pentecost is the birthday of the Church. Pentecost is celebrated ten days after the Ascension of the Lord. It was the day when Christ sent forth the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, together with Mother Mary when they had gathered to pray in the Upper Room.
Acts 1:14; 2:44 tells us the apostles gathered frequently to pray. This is the genesis of the development of prayer groups in the church. Among the prayer groups in the church are the Sacred Heart Confraternity, Legion of Mary, saints/ patronal prayer groups etc.
During preparation towards the celebration of the feast of Pentecost, we have either private or communal novenas in wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit- more appropriately we seek to rekindle the Spirit we received at Baptism and Confirmation. This, indeed, is a period of grace for all the faithful.
Around the period of the Second Vatican Council, precisely in 1967, Storey and Kiefer, at an Episcopalian prayer meeting were privileged to have witnessed the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. They moved on to lay hands and prayed for the faithful at The Ark and the Dove Retreat Centre in Pittsburgh.
This event and subsequent ones gradually led to the spread of the renewal group. It was in 1975 when Pope Paul VI officially welcomed the Charismatic Renewal into the church. Already, St. John XXIII had conceived the Second Vatican Council as a “new Pentecost” for the Church.
To this end, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal has been ascribed with the celebration of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps, this is as a result of their feature of holding prayer meetings outside Mass, manifesting gifts of prophecy, healing and deliverance, speaking in tongues amidst audible songs and musical instruments during prayer meetings.
A major concern raised by other members of the church is the gradual creeping of these features into the celebration of Holy Mass. Some of these features could be seen before introit, during prayer of the faithful, or after post Communion prayer, which makes them question whether there is a change in rubrics for the celebration of Holy Mass.
According to Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, “JESUS CHRIST is no longer just a set of thesis and dogmas…or an object of worship but a living reality in the Spirit” (Cf. https://www.charis.international/en/the-catholic-charismatic-renewal-a-current-of-grace-for-the-whole-church/). Could this be the answer to the new features we see at the celebration of the Holy Mass in some parishes?
Consciously or unconsciously during preparation towards Pentecost, our attentions are drawn to this prayer group to assist the faithful to have an experience of the Holy Spirit through programmes organized in the various parishes.
As many as possible are encouraged to partake in these sessions. It is the hope that at the end of the day every individual would be rekindled to go out and live in the Spirit.
Now let us think of the other Catholic faithful who do not speak in tongues, prophesy or are blessed with the other gifts, are they exempted from being enkindled by the Spirit of God? Does their contemplative prayers, meditations, silent adoration to the Blessed Sacrament, praying of the Rosary, chaplets etc. exempt them from receiving the ‘new Spirit’ at Pentecost? No, I firmly believe that the Spirit is at work in all these forms of prayer instituted and promoted by the Church. Besides, the individual is at liberty to choose the form of prayer which is best suited to them.
It is rather unfortunate that both groups of Catholics as described above spend time in criticising each other, forgetting that graces abound in all the prayers and sacraments of the church most especially the Holy Eucharist, the most efficacious of them all. Instead of criticising let us work in harmony as the parts of the human body do (1 Corinthians 12:25 ). Let us understand every gift is important for the growth of the Church.(1 Corinthians 12:21-22)
I write to bring to a remembrance of what St Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12-14, we have only one God in whom exists the Father, Son and Spirit. And from the Spirit promised by the Son (cf John 16) bestows different kinds of spiritual gifts to all, which include the gifts of faith, good counsel, wisdom, ability to speak in tongues, prophesy, service etc.
The Spirit gives out many gifts “…to prepare all God’s people for the work of Christian service, in order to build up the body of Christ” (Eph 4:11&12) “The Spirit’s presence is shown in some way in each person for the good of all”(1 Corinthians 12:7) As such, do not think you own the gifts you are blessed with by the Holy Spirit.
The gifts you posses is for the benefit of the Church. You do not decide when to manifest and use your gift. It is one and the same Spirit who does all these, “as he wishes, he gives a different gift to each person”. (1 Cor 12:11)
I encourage each of us to desire to manifest the gift of LOVE, which is the greatest of them all (1 Cor 13:13) and also sums up the Lord’s commandments (Cf. Matt 22:34-40)
When all is rightly done, God the Father is the only one who answereth all prayers if only we confess with our lips and believe in our hearts that Jesus is Lord.
Source: Sr. Jennifer A. Aikins, HDR