Friday, May 13, 2011

Spiritual gifts that are much needed today

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.

Why?

 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."

17 comments:

  1. Mary, thank you very much for writing with such beautiful words of wisdom!

    We are living in both difficult and extraordinary times. If individuals would refocus their thoughts from negativity to God's light as written in the gospels, and pray daily, their lives and the world will change for the better. Success will follow with God's grace and blessing.

    "For nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1:37

    ReplyDelete
  2. Loci,
    Thank you for your comment! Yes, we live in difficult and extraordinary times - I have no doubt of this. This can all change if people took your words here to heart. Prayer and purifying our inner lives is the key!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh good, it's here again! I don't remember what I commented the first time but I think it was something about being so thankful to read such wise and encouraging words! It's fascinating and amazing to think of the power of God!

    ReplyDelete
  4. We live in difficult and extraordinary anti-God times.

    I believe the devil is having a field day and BEWARE - he is attacking, tempting and tormenting those who believe in God. It's no point him wasting his time on those who don't believe.

    We must hold on to our Faith, and pray for each other.

    God bless.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is a much needed post. I really enjoyed it and am glad you took the time to put it together. I am looking forward to the follow up posts. Thanks for always helping me grow in faith.

    God Bless

    ReplyDelete
  6. Colleen,
    I copied it from Google Reader and, of course, the minute I posted it Blogger restored the old post and I had to delete one ;) Funny how life works, isn't it? That's what I get for my lack of patience (lol)! Thanks for your kind comment!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Victor,
    You're absolutely on target with your comment! I have felt these attacks too and I'm sure most Christians have at this point. I agree about holding on to our faith and praying for each other. I do this every day. God bless you too, Victor!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you, Michael :) I always tend to go back to the same type of subjects eventually so I really think the Lord is nudging me to write more about the Holy Spirit, prayer, and the times we live in. God bless!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for this post. Excellent. I have been thinking about charisms lately. God-incidence!

    ReplyDelete
  10. The world sure is a scary place right now, and we Catholic bloggers can inspire each other to praise God and continue to practice virtue. I like to think that when I praise and glorify God it somehow helps make up to God for what is lacking in the world as it ought to be relating to him.

    No one will escape the chastisement that is here and that is coming. But we can all make ourselves ready by building virtue and sincerely trying to do God's will.

    I am thankful for your blog and those of others who fortify me for the daily battle against sin.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I like the way you went to bat on this, Mary. Are you involved in the charismatic renewal in your diocese? My husband and I direct CCRS for the Diocese of Tulsa.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Sheila,
    Yes, we have a wonderful charismatic prayer community in my city. It was established over twenty-five years ago and they are a solid group. I've done a couple Life in the Spirit Seminars with them and they are a great bunch of people. They meet every week throughout the year but I haven't gone since last June to be honest with you. I also occasionally meet and pray with other Charismatic Catholics from a nearby Church. I am amazed at some of the gifts these folks have!
    I believe that everyone has certain gifts from the Holy Spirit but a lack of faith (among other reasons) can keep them suppressed.
    I knew you were a charismatic Catholic the minute I stepped onto your blog. I had an immediate witness in the spirit that I should read it and that it was of God :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Colleen,
    Probably because we know we are going to be needing them like never before shortly!
    Glad you liked the post!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Barb,
    I loved your comment! Praising , glorifying God and practicing virtues is THE ANSWER to our problems today! Thank you! I, too, am thankful for your blog and the blogs of others who love God so deeply :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Mary, I needed to hear this today. I have to reconnect with my dormant charisms. Why ever did you stop blogging ;( A blessed Christmas to you and yours.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Mary, this is a wonderful post. It's very true and insightful. How much we need these gifts of God. They sanctify and build up the church! Wonderful post!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thank you for this post! I'm looking at the dates and it looks like the Holy Spirit is leading people to your post again after 2 1/2+ years.He is on the move!

    ReplyDelete