SPIRITUALITY OF THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
The spirituality for the New Evangelization is charismatic
spirituality. While there are many different spiritualities
in the Church (for example, contemplative), and all are valid
and important, charismatic spirituality is intended by God
for the work of the New Evangelization.
is this so?
First, charismatic spirituality is the spirituality of empowerment
by the Spirit for worldwide mission.
Jesus ascended to heaven, after having commissioned his disciples
to preach the good news to all the nations, he told them to
wait for the promise of the Father, by which they would be
“clothed with power from on high.” (Lk 24:49).
Jesus told them that they would “be baptized with the
holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:5). Jesus further said, “But
you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you,
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea
and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8).
This baptism in the Holy Spirit is empowerment for worldwide
Catholics we of course have received the Holy Spirit in the
sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. In charismatic renewal,
people are prayed with for the so-called baptism in the Spirit,
in order that there be a renewed infilling or outpouring of
the Holy Spirit in their lives, and so that they would become
witnesses to bring the good news of salvation in Jesus to
Second, charismatic spirituality is the spirituality of Pentecost,
when the Church was born.
had told them to wait, and the disciples did as they were
told. They waited in Jerusalem, praying in the upper room.
Then, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon them.
The manifestation of this infilling by the Holy Spirit was
that the disciples “began to speak in different tongues,
as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” (Acts 2:4).
They praised God and proclaimed “the mighty acts of
God” in a loud voice. Some people thought they were
drunk (Acts 2:15).
was emboldened and empowered to preach one sermon where 3,000
persons were converted. He explained that what was happening
was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel. God pours out
a portion of His spirit upon all flesh, and people prophesy,
see visions and dream dreams (Acts 2:17). Then God will work
wonders and signs (Acts 2:19), so that those who call upon
the name of the Lord will be saved, before the second coming
of Jesus (Acts 2:20-21).
Third, charismatic spirituality is the spirituality of the
early Church was a charismatic Church. The baptism in the
Spirit was an integral part of mission. Peter and John prayed
for Jews in Samaria to receive the Holy Spirit; “they
laid hands on them and they received the holy Spirit.”
(Acts 8:17). Through Peter, the gift of the Holy Spirit was
poured out on Gentiles, and they spoke in tongues and glorified
God (Acts 10:45-46). Paul went to Ephesus and baptized some
disciples in the name of Jesus. “And when Paul laid
his hands on them, the holy Spirit came upon them, and they
spoke in tongues and prophesied.” (Acts 19:6).
the Church grew and became institutionalized, the charismatic
dimension was diminished, and even lost. God sought to bring
back this essential dimension of Church life and mission,
and so the Catholic Charismatic Renewal started in the mid-1970s.
Fourth, charismatic spirituality is the spirituality of our
ancestors-in-faith, the Israelites.
intended Israel to be His light to a pagan world. The people
whom God formed as a people, whom He entered into covenant
with, whom He taught about worship, were charismatic. Charismatic
worship was the norm.
is evident from their “songbook,” the Book of
Psalms. They were exhorted to praise out loud, to shout, play
musical instruments (loud ones like horns and cymbals), to
lift their hands, to dance.
King David, out of joy at the return of the Ark of the Covenant
to Jerusalem, led the people in procession amid great festivities.
David stripped down to a linen apron and danced with abandon,
while all Israel gave out shouts of joy and to the sound of
the horn (2 Sm 6:14-15).
today are the new Israel. We inherit the promises of God to
His chosen people. But what God intended for Israel, in raising
them to be His light to the world, is also for us Christians
today. This includes our spirituality. We would do well to
live out such a spirituality. Even if those close to us become
ashamed of us (2 Sm 6:20). Even if people think that we are
drunk (Acts 2:15).
Fifth, charismatic spirituality is the spirituality that more
readily brings people, especially nominal Christians, to personal
conversion and transformation in Christ.
touches not just the minds but especially the hearts of people.
When Peter preached his sermon on Pentecost, those who heard
“were cut to the heart” and were led to repentance
repentance, people continue on their journey, looking to the
holiness to which they are called. This is how they become
effective witnesses to the faith.
Sixth, charismatic spirituality is the spirituality that provides
spiritual gifts that are essential for mission.
the Church speaks about spiritual gifts, what is often thought
of are the seven gifts in Isaiah: wisdom, understanding, counsel,
strength, knowledge, piety, fear of the Lord (Is 11:2-3a).
These are sanctifying gifts, essential for us to grow in holiness.
On the other hand, there are charismatic gifts, intended for
service. The main list of such gifts is in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
(there are other gifts in other passages). Sanctifying gifts
are for the internal dimension of our individual Christian
life, while charismatic gifts are for the external dimension
of service, including building up the body.
of these gifts are no longer appreciated or even known. But
they are crucial to evangelization and mission. For example,
faith refers to the faith that moves mountains (or demolishes
strongholds). Miraculous healings and mighty deeds are manifestations
of the power of the Spirit. Tongues is important for prayer
(1 Cor 14:2) and for connecting to the spirit of God (1 Cor
Seventh, charismatic spirituality is the spirituality that
builds Christian community.
descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples resulted in
Christian community, in the establishment of the Church. The
disciples began to live a communal life, characterized by
formation, prayers and worship, the Eucharist, sharing of
resources, meetings and fellowship, effective witness, massive
evangelization (Acts 2:42-47). They even solved the problem
of poverty, such that there was no one in need (Acts 4:32-35).
receives a charismatic gift (1 Cor 12:7,11). These gifts are
used to build community (1 Cor 12:12,27-30), to prepare the
body for service to the larger society. The work of evangelization
is the work of the whole Church and not just separate individuals.
Eighth, charismatic spirituality is the spirituality of worship
all want to get to heaven. Now according to the vision of
John, worship in heaven will be charismatic. The angels and
saints praise and cry out to God in a loud voice (Rev 7:10,19:1).
It will be “like the sound of a great multitude or the
sound of rushing water or mighty peals of thunder” (Rev
would be good to get used to it while we are still on earth.
One problem in the Church today is that Catholics do not really
know the Holy Spirit. They know the Father, who is Creator.
They know the Son, who is Savior. But they miss out on the
Holy Spirit, who is Sanctifier and who empowers for mission.
It may well be that most Catholics today, when asked, “Did
you receive the holy Spirit when you became believers?”
(Acts 19:2), would answer, “We have never even heard
that there is a holy Spirit.” (Acts 19:2).
first receive the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Baptism.
Baptism cleanses us of original sin and makes us children
of God. It is “a baptism of repentance, telling the
people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that
is, in Jesus.” (Acts 19:4). Then, when we have been
instructed in the faith and are mature enough to think and
decide for ourselves, we receive the sacrament of Confirmation.
This makes us soldiers of Christ, tasked to proclaim him to
how come many baptized and confirmed Catholics are so sinful,
lethargic in their faith, not aware at all of the call to
evangelize? This is where a renewed infilling or outpouring
of the Holy Spirit is needed. This is accomplished through
the so-called baptism in the Holy Spirit and entrance into
the charismatic dimension of faith.
Catholic Church is in essence a missionary Church. But how
can she accomplish her mission without the active work of
the Holy Spirit?
Do all Catholics have to be charismatics, or be part of charismatic
renewal? No. But if the Church is to effectively pursue the
New Evangelization, if the Catholic Church is to live up to
its essence as a missionary Church, then charismatic spirituality
is very very helpful. I might even say crucial.