It's no great secret to those of you who read my blog posts that I believe we live in "spiritually" critical times. I also believe that each and every one of us, though some may be as yet unaware of them, have special gifts from the Lord that can be a great help today in leading people back to the Lord and these gifts include charisms. Over the years, I have heard it said that these "charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit" are no longer necessary - that they were only for the early Church in order to better spread the Good News of Jesus Christ and add to the community of believers...but this is absolutely untrue. Not only is it untrue but this false statement is detrimental to Christianity in this day and age.
The Holy Spirit is working harder than ever to bring people to Christ. Some of the reasons that we don't see the more obvious manifestations of these gifts of the Holy Spirit today and why some believe they haven't received any of these gifts may be due to:
- a lack of faith
- blockages in the spirit (this may be because we may need to forgive others...or even ourselves)
- unconfessed sin
- sinful patterns of living
- a lack of understanding the immense power of God
- a reliance on human understanding
- a lack of charity
- a refusal (can be an "unconscious" refusal) of the gifts due to false humility or because of inner wounds that need healing
In order to be open to the Holy Spirit's work in and through us we have to rid ourselves of the overly scientific views that have been impressed upon us in today's secular society. We are spiritual as well as physical beings and science rarely, if ever, touches upon this aspect of human nature. There is nothing wrong with science itself but it is prudent to remember that without God there would be no science and science should be put in its proper place. There are many incredibly brilliant scientists out there who are utterly lacking in "spiritual intelligence". Not all, of course, but quite a few.
God is beyond science. God is beyond human intelligence.
God is the great I AM.
When praying for the gifts of the Holy Spirit - wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord, we should also be asking Him to stir up the charisms (meaning gratuitous gift or favor) He has given us. In other words, these charisms are freely given to those who love the Lord. We don't merit these gifts...they are given out of the pure goodness of God.
Above, I stated some reasons why the Charisms of the Holy Spirit may not seem to "work" in some people. In actuality, they "work" very well indeed but there may be something blocking their full manifestation. One of the obstacles is a lack of faith. Disbelief. Even though Jesus states in the gospels that His followers would do even greater deeds than what He did, some people don't believe it. Faith is not so much believing in God, but rather, believing God. And that, my friends, makes all the difference. St. Paul tells us in 1 Cor 12:7-11:
"To each individual, the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit; to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another variety of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes."
I deliberately bolded "each individual" to point out that the gifts are for all, though they differ from person to person. St. Paul never wrote "to some individuals" but to "each". If the father of a family gathers his children around him one day and says that he has a gift for each of his children...he means all of them. Granted, the gifts may differ but they are still precious nonetheless and even more they "fit" the person receiving them.
You may be wondering why I mention faith first in regard to charisms and this is because a lack of faith is one of the largest stumbling blocks. How many times in the Bible does Jesus sigh over the lack of faith of his followers (see Mt 17:14-20, Mk 6:1-6 and Mk 4:35-40)? Many. He also often praises those who have great faith (see Mt 15:28 and Mk 5:34). This is just a small number of the scriptural passages which refer to faith or lack of it.
We could call the age we live in the "Age of Doubters". Many of us forget that God's laws supersede the "natural law". God's power supersedes man's power and man forgets this. This grieves God. We have lost our childlike awe of the mighty works of God. My prayer is that an outpouring of the Holy Spirit may come upon all believers.
There is a certain type of "spiritual snobbery" that exists today, sometimes seen among Catholics (but not limited to) and a number of people believe that they don't need these special gifts from the Spirit. Some even despise them and think that people today are "above" such things but the truth is that these charisms are meant to walk hand in hand with the other gifts and virtues God gives his children.
They are an enormous help in bringing others to Christ and they build up the Church. This in itself is the greatest reason of all.
I'll leave you with this quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church :
"There are furthermore special graces, also called charisms after the Greek term used by St. Paul and meaning 'favor,' 'gratuitous gift,' 'benefit'. Whatever their character - sometimes it is extraordinary, such as the gift of miracles or tongues - charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church."