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5. CHARISMATIC (MINISTRY) GIFTS

You might say that the main difference between the transformative gifts and charismatic gifts is that the former are given to benefit the individual while the latter are for the good of the community. Granted that this distinction is not "hard-and-fast"-transformative gifts do benefit the community and individuals are blessed through the exercise of charismatic gifts-still, it's one that has endured through the centuries, and I think there are some good reasons for it. What we will be covering in this section as charismatic gifts (also called charisms, spiritual gifts, ministry gifts) do seem to be fundamentally ordered to address certain needs in a community, especially a Christian one. They are ways in which the Spirit energizes and grows the Mystical Body of Christ.

Let's first consider references to these gifts in the Scriptures. There are several places where we learn of them, including lists of different kinds. As early as Acts 4: 33-35, we read of a deep and profound sharing of gifts and resources by the Christian community, with the Apostles having a special role "to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with great power." It is in Paul's letters, however, that we find a developed treatment of spiritual charisms, especially in 1 Cor. 11. Here we learn that:

There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of services to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them. (4-6)

Undoubtedly, Paul's ministry informed this statement with many communities and his observations of how the Spirit moves individuals to serve. What he wishes to emphasize is that it is all God's work; we are to be content with the gift given us to share and grateful for those shared by others.

Paul then goes on (v. 7-11) to list some of the most common gifts, which I will enumerate below:

1. Preaching with wisdom
2. Preaching instruction
3. Faith - willingness to take risks, depending on God's care.
4. Healing
5. Miracles
6. Prophecy
7. Discerning spirits
8. Speaking in tongues
9. Interpreting tongues

In his more brief treatment of spiritual gifts in Eph. 4, Paul lists gift-roles: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. These seem to be more like ministries in the community, but no doubt they were determined, to some degree, by the evidence of spiritual gifts. In 1 Cor. 12: 27-29, Paul provides a summary and ranking of the importance of the gifts/roles in the life of the community:

Now you, together, are Christ's body; but each of you is a different part of it. In the Church, God has given first place to apostles, the second to prophets, the third to teachers, after them, miracles, and after them the gift of healing; helpers, good leaders, those with many languages.

I think the main point here is that the Church needs all these gifts to be exercised for its ongoing growth, but to overemphasize the importance of some (as was happening in the Church in Corinth) leads to a distorted understanding of the role of the gifts in the life of the community. Paul was especially trying to give a perspective on the relative importance of speaking in tongues, which had become a divisive issue in that community. In Chapter 14, he addresses the place of tongues (glossalalia) in the Christian life-a topic we shall take up more fully later on.

Catherine of Siena Institute

The kind of knowledge and appreciation of charisms shared by Paul and evidenced in the early Church seems to have become diminished through the ages. I daresay that if you went into almost any Christian Church and asked individuals a few questions about spiritual gifts, you would be greeted with a puzzled look in reply. Ask them what their particular charisms are and you'd see more evidence of bafflement. They might begin to share an inventory of their natural talents and aptitudes, but that's not really the same thing.

I've been fortunate through the years to have been involved in the charismatic renewal in the early 1970s, and, in recent years, through a second wave of appreciation for charisms catalyzed by the Catherine of Siena Institute (henceforth: CSI). Through the Institute's teachers-primarily Fr. Michael Sweeny, OP and Ms. Sherry Weddell, a sound, updated theology of spiritual charisms is once again made available to all Christian Churches, with resources to help individuals discover their own charisms. CSI emphasizes the ancient teachings--that if we have been baptized in Christ, then we belong to him and are gifted by the Spirit to help build up the Church. The problem for many is that they haven't ever taken this very seriously, and haven't done much to investigate what their charisms might be. Almost equally manifest is the phenomenon of people who are habitually exercising spiritual charisms but have never identified them as such.

CSI defines charisms or spiritual gifts as "special abilities given to Christians by the Holy Spirit to enable them to be powerful channels of God's love and redeeming presence in the world." They distinguish these charisms from natural talents by emphasizing that "charisms are not 'in-born' or inherited from our parents, but are given to us by the Holy Spirit." We possess our talents all the time, but a charism seems to manifest only when the need presents itself. As the CSI notes, "charisms are supernaturally empowered. They are focused outward and enable Christians to bear results for the Kingdom of God above and beyond our normal human abilities." One might, for example, have natural gifts of listening and empathy, but these are not the same as the charismatic gift of encouragement, which "empowers a Christian to be an effective channel of God's love-nurturing others through his or her presence and the words of comfort, encouragement and counsel." Often, of course, there is a correspondence between natural aptitudes and charismatic gifts, but that doesn't mean that one is simply an outgrowth of the other..

You might have noticed that CSI's inclusion of encouragement as a gift differs from the Pauline inventory shared above. The reason for this is because: a.) they (and other scholars) maintain that Paul's list was not intended to be a comprehensive summary, and b.) it's obvious that there are many other ways in which the Spirit blesses individuals to serve the Church. You might say that almost any kind of service to the Church could be charisms expressing in some manner. Hence, the CSI has included in its inventory additional charisms such as celibacy, giving, helps, hospitality, intercessory prayer, knowledge, mercy, music, pasturing, service, wisdom and writing. Others may be added in the future, according to Fr. Sweeny and Ms. Waddell.

Recognizing Your Charisms

A charism can be given by the Spirit at any time to any person as the need requires. I recall, for example, a time years ago when I was meeting with a young woman for spiritual direction. She was depressed because her doctor had just told her that the results of a biopsy for a spot on her lungs showed a malignant tumor to be the cause. As I listened to her, I felt a strong-almost overwhelming!-desire to pray for her healing. I asked if she wanted to join hands to pray for healing, and she was most willing. As I prayed, I felt a strong flow of energy moving through me; the woman felt it, too. We ended the session shortly after this prayer, and that was the last I heard from her for a few weeks. Then one day, she came bursting into my office with the news that, must to the puzzlement of her doctors, the tumor was gone. She was sure that a healing happened when we prayed, as she had felt better from that time on. But she thought it might have been just a spiritual healing, enabling her to accept her condition and stay close to God during the difficult journey ahead. During her next medical visit, she asked for an X-ray, which was reluctantly granted. Then came the good news!

I mention this incident because it's about the only time it has ever happened to me, and I've had thousands of spiritual directions session since-often with people who were struggling with an illness of some kind. I have never since felt moved to pray with someone for healing as on that day long ago, however, and I don't consider myself someone blessed with a gift of healing. But God wanted to heal that woman and I was the person in the Church chosen to do that at that time. Other isolated manifestations of charisms have happened through the years as well.

Generally, what we discover is that there are a few charisms that are habitually called forth from us; we find ourselves drawn to exercise them again and again, so much so that they eventually suggest a calling or even a vocation of some kind. How can you tell what these charisms are? The CSI emphasizes three criteria:

1. When you express this gift, you feel energized and close to God.
2. Your exercise of the gift produces results (e.g., healers heal, teachers communicate, administrators bring order, etc.)
3. The Christian community validates your gift through positive feedback and by calling upon you for its exercise.


All three of these criteria are important. It's not enough, for example, to say that you really like to perform a certain work; the results that ensue must also be considered. You might like praying for healing, for example, but if people are not healed because of your ministry, it's doubtful that you have a gift of healing.

CSI provides and inventory and discernment process to help one recognize charisms. If you're interested in obtaining their work, check out their web site: http://www.siena.org/ There are other inventories on the web, some of which provide an interactive form to do a quick survey online. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America has a good one. See http://www.elca.org/dcm/evange...int_spiritgifts.html to try it out. Know, however, that a quick test like this one is no substitute for observing what actually happens in your life. Discussions with a spiritual director can also help to discern charisms.

Reflection and Discussion

1. What have been some of your experiences with charismatic gifts?
2. What gifts have become habitual expressions in your life?
3. How does it feel when others with charismatic gifts minister to you? Give examples.
4. What gift(s) are you trying to discern at this time? How can you "experiment" to see if the gift is given to you?
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Very helpful Conf. 5. I took the test at the Evan. Luthern site and scored highest in knowledge, which is described below:

"Knowledge: the gift that drives a person to learn, analyze and uncover new insights with regard to the Bible and faith. Biblical References: I Corinthians 12:8; I Corinthians 14:6, Romans 12:2."

I never saw this as a gift, but as a form of greed. I am a voracious reader and constantly searching for truth. What good is that doing anyone else? However, I also scored high in "writing". So I am wondering if I am using my "gift" of knowledge at my web site. (even tho some may think some of it is heresy lol.)

I am 60 yrs. old and still trying to figure out why I am here... what good I am doing.

Also, many of the questions on the quiz involved reacting with "community members" and the parish family. I don't even belong to any kind of a community. Just have my husband, and a couple of other people in my life, but many internet friends. I am closer to some "internet" friends than I am to my own family..

Katy
 
Posts: 535 | Location: Sarasota, Florida | Registered: 17 November 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Reflection and Discussion

1. What have been some of your experiences with charismatic gifts?

When I was involved in the Catholic Charis. movement in the 70's I was too inhibited and emotionally immature to even use my gifts. The most evident gift was "praying in tongues", which I received before being "baptized" in the Spirit. I guess I have seen all of the gifts "in action". I did get around.

Also, a spiritual director type person said I had the gift of prophecy, and I did "prophecy" in writing. I still don't know if it was the "real thing" though.

Katy
 
Posts: 535 | Location: Sarasota, Florida | Registered: 17 November 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Knowledge: the gift that drives a person to learn, analyze and uncover new insights with regard to the Bible and faith. Biblical References: I Corinthians 12:8; I Corinthians 14:6, Romans 12:2." I never saw this as a gift, but as a form of greed. I am a voracious reader and constantly searching for truth. What good is that doing anyone else?

Also, many of the questions on the quiz involved reacting with "community members" and the parish family. I don't even belong to any kind of a community. Just have my husband, and a couple of other people in my life, but many internet friends. I am closer to some "internet" friends than I am to my own family..

Katy, you may be edified by this Guide Book for The Vocation to Eremitic Life , which includes a DISCERNMENT SURVEY AND QUESTIONNAIRE .

quote:
... hermits "devote their life to the praise of God and salvation of the world through a stricter separation from the world, the silence of solitude and assiduous prayer and penance."

They manifest to everyone the interior aspect of the mystery of the Church, that is, personal intimacy with Christ. Hidden from the eyes of men, the life of the hermit is a silent preaching of the Lord, to whom he has surrendered his life simply because he is everything to him. Here is a particular call to find in the desert, in the thick of spiritual battle, the glory of the Crucified One.

from the Catholic Catechism

Without rushing to closure and presumptively claiming your vocation necessarily resembles, in part, that of a hermit, I do affirm that your intense study increases both your knowledge of and love of God, for to know Him is to love Him. Your relative solitude, Katy, results in your worship taking on a less public aspect and perhaps results in your knowledge overflowing moreso in praise, adoration and love, less than in teaching. This is no less a gift to the Church, a true charism, by your being a sign and sacrament to all, pointing to what matters most in the world in a society that is all too secularized, where the practice of religion has become all too comparmentalized for many.

The Catechism also says:
quote:


One great tree, with many branches

"From the God-given seed of the counsels a wonderful and wide-spreading tree has grown up in the field of the Lord, branching out into various forms of the religious life lived in solitude or in community. Different religious families have come into existence in which spiritual resources are multiplied for the progress in holiness of their members and for the good of the entire Body of Christ."

Other excerpts from the Guidebook:

Eremitical life is, under certain aspects, the most complete form of monastic life and in this sense it is under the sign of gift . Just as the Church does not contain its goal in itself since its responsibility is above all to �introduce the human person to the Divine Persons,� monastic society, by opening itself to the solitary life, shows that it exists first of all to lead its members to be alone with Christ.

But there is more. More clearly than the other forms of monastic life, eremitical life is a sign of liberty. Let us quote Don Jean Leclercq who so well expressed that �the hermit is the person who, in the church, is united to God with a minimum of structure� . The hermit�s vocation is �the greatest paradox: a vocation to practice obedience without a superior, charity without brothers, and apostolate without action.� He liberates himself of the law by going beyond it: the hermit �who prays unceasingly, spontaneously, in the solitude of his cell is free from the rule of a prayer that is limited, collective, and obligatory to which the cenobites are commonly held.�

Enumerated in Canon 603 �1: �Besides institutes of consecrated life, the church recognizes the eremitic or anchoritic life by which the Christian faithful devote their life to the praise of God and salvation of the world through a stricter separation from the world, the silence of solitude, and assiduous prayer and penance.�

I believe that many people, because of both temperament and a new station in life, such as being recently widowed or retired, or even having an empty nest, are searching for ways to live out the charisms of the eremitic life, embodying the paradox of practicing obedience without a superior, charity without brothers, and apostolate without action and that they can serve as a real sign of contradiction to our times and culture, as a radical Gospel witness that contemplative being can be the utmost doing, that the active apostolic life is not the only Christian norm, especially for those otherwise gifted or who have recently gone through a life-transition that is amenable to a semi-eremitic existence.

I wonder how many feel so drawn or feel the need for a better developed spirituality of being over against doing, whether due to a particular season of life or reason in life, like temperament? How can the Church better accomodate and make use of this charism? or even recognize it (and I mean apart from its understanding of a canonical hermit's role)?

pax,
jboy
 
Posts: 2881 | Registered: 25 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thank you johnboy. I checked out those web sites you gave me. I never really thought of myself in terms of being a hermit, although I consider myself a mystic. I have a book called "Ordinary People as Monks and Mystics", which very much describes my lifestyle. Maybe a part time hermit :-) I have tried to get out and make new friends since I married and moved away because I felt that I "should" do that. However I am quite happy by myself most of the time. And yes I do a lot of studying and praying. I can relate to a lot of the things I read at the hermit web site.

:-)
Katy
 
Posts: 535 | Location: Sarasota, Florida | Registered: 17 November 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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CSI defines charisms or spiritual gifts as "special abilities given to Christians by the Holy Spirit to enable them to be powerful channels of God's love and redeeming presence in the world." They distinguish these charisms from natural talents by emphasizing that "charisms are not 'in-born' or inherited from our parents, but are given to us by the Holy Spirit." We possess our talents all the time, but a charism seems to manifest only when the need presents itself.

OK, Phil, I've read Conferences 4 and 5 several times, trying to get a handle on the difference. I thought I understood the distinction, but then I went to that Lutheran Evangelical site and the gifts they have listed are much different than the ones you listed:

1. Preaching with wisdom
2. Preaching instruction
3. Faith - willingness to take risks, depending on God's care.
4. Healing
5. Miracles
6. Prophecy
7. Discerning spirits
8. Speaking in tongues
9. Interpreting tongues

I can relate pretty well to the transformative gifts, but I've had very little experience with the charistmatic gifts....not personally, nor with other people. But I can relate to the spiritual gifts listed on the Lutheran Evangelical site...although they don't seem to fit your definition. I mean....it seems like to me like there is a big difference between "speaking in tongues" and "hospitality." Confused

Anne
 
Posts: 172 | Location: Missouri | Registered: 10 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Well, yes, which is why our next conference will be on speaking in tongues. It is more a gift given for the edification of individuals than for the building up of the community. Nevertheless, there it is in the Pauline listings, but alongside interpreting tongues, which does benefit the community. Not your everyday topic, to be sure . . . Wink

I did note in Conference 5 that the Pauline listing was not comprehensive and that others were added in various approaches to the topic. Hospitality would be one, along with others like encouragement, mercy, writing and a great deal more.
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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1. What have been some of your experiences with charismatic gifts?

We have this group of people at our church called the Jonah Team. They stay after Mass and pray for your needs. Last year when I was dealing some not-so-good test results I had these people pray over me. First they asked me if it was OK for them to touch me. And they also asked me if it would bother me if they prayed in tongues. They worked in partners, so I was prayed over by maybe three different pairs. I had no problem with them touching me...they put their hands on my shoulder, hand, etc. Then at a certain point they would start speaking in tongues. I thought it was interesting, but I felt no skepticism about it. Their sincerity to help me was evident and that was good enough for me. How did it feel? I could see how strong their faith was in what they were doing. So I also had faith in them. I came out of that situation with a clean bill of health. Did it have anything to do with their prayers? I don't know. It doesn't really matter, does it? Wink

What gifts have become habitual expressions in your life?

I don't know about "habitual." I'm still trying to understand what spiritual gifts are. I took the inventory on the Lutheran site. I scored high in administration Eeker , artistry, hospitality, wisdom, faith, vocal music and writing. My three highest scores were in administration, vocal music and writing. Now that I think about it, I think that I may have a spiritual gift for writing. There are times I feel compelled to write about faith experiences and share them with friends, some who are believers and some who are not. And even though faith experiences are hard to convey to others, I find that I can share them better when I write about them, rather than trying to talk about them.

The vocal music thing is pretty simple. When I am at Mass I really sing out. I have an above average voice, and I've been in church choirs at different periods of my life, but am not in any right now. So when I "sing out" during Mass, I am expressing my faith. And also, I hope that there might be somebody within earshot who wants to sing, and my near presence makes them feel more comfortable singing out, too.

Anne
 
Posts: 172 | Location: Missouri | Registered: 10 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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re: There are times I feel compelled to write about faith experiences and share them with friends

Anne, that first paragraph you shared about being prayed over with a laying on of hands and the pray-ers praying in tongues was VERY well communicated. I would definitely affirm this particular charism if this is a good example of your faith-sharing writing style.

One thing that may interest you is that my Church parish sponsors an online small group discussion whenever other small groups are being assembled for Renew, during Lent or Advent and such. This allows those who cannot otherwise physically attend small group meetings, or who might prefer the written medium, to participate. I have had a good experience with those. The nature of those small groups is precisely focused on faith sharing and experience sharing. This is to be distinguished from idea sharing, which I am moreso inclined to do (like so many men). Participating in these types of groups helps to discipline me and to remind me to share experiences and not just ideas all the time. Writing about my experiences is NOT my charism. It takes too much work! For you, on the other hand, it might come quite naturally and, beyond that, be further empowered supernaturally, as a true charism.

Thanks for sharing.

Pax,
jboy
 
Posts: 2881 | Registered: 25 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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There's a lot to think and pray about in this conference. I've always thought my gift was music ministry, but now I'm wondering how much of what I've thought of as gift is really natural talent and ability. But I do get a lot of positive feedback from parishoners when I cantor, and I'm asked to sing special things quite frequently. But then I wonder how much of that is people's natural appreciation or recognization of a strong singer who learns music fast. Or it could be that the Spirit is taking the natural ability and using it in a special way.

As for my experiences with charismatic gifts, your story, Phil, of praying with the woman for healing reminded me of an experience I had once that was sort of similar. I was at a prayer meeting in a small group. A lady sitting next to me, a fellow music minister who had several physical problems including back problems, had asked for prayer. For some reason, as we prayed, I felt the urge to put my hand on her lower back. Nothing dramatic happened, but at some later point she specifically mentioned the time when I'd put my hand on her back, and it had apparently had some kind of positive benefit; I don't remember specifically what kind of benefit; it's been over 20 years! But like you, I don't have the gift of healing, so it was interesting to be reminded of how I was used in that unusual way.

As for being ministered to by others, I can tell you how it feels to be mi"ministered to" by people who try to exercise gifts that they apparently don't have. Fairly frequently, especially in charismatic or Pentecostal groups, someone, or a group of someones, will decide that the blind lady really needs to be healed, and will insist on praying over me, apparently seeing nothing but the blindness. Nothing can be more humiliating. On the other hand, there have been times when I've been prayed over by those who see my blindness in the context of my total life and personhood, and those kinds of prayers can be a real blessing.

So as I think about gifts given to build up the church, I think we need to keep open and alert to any promptings of the Spirit, while being careful to avoid trying to conjure up gifts and situations we aren't called to.
 
Posts: 46 | Location: Sacramento, CA | Registered: 14 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Peggy says:

"I've always thought my gift was music ministry, but now I'm wondering how much of what I've thought of as gift is really natural talent and ability"

I do think that the Holy Spirit uses us according to our natural talents... I love the music group at the church that I go.. I wonder if they know what a BLESSING they have been.. (don't think they're the charismatic type).

So whether it's a "charismatic" gift or not, do know that you are a blessing to many!!!

Katy
 
Posts: 535 | Location: Sarasota, Florida | Registered: 17 November 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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johnboy wrote:

Participating in these types of groups helps to discipline me and to remind me to share experiences and not just ideas all the time. Writing about my experiences is NOT my charism.

Hmmm.....I hadn't considered the difference between sharing ideas and sharing experiences. I'll have to think about that a bit.

Thanks so much for your feedback.

Anne
 
Posts: 172 | Location: Missouri | Registered: 10 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Peggy wrote:

So as I think about gifts given to build up the church, I think we need to keep open and alert to any promptings of the Spirit, while being careful to avoid trying to conjure up gifts and situations we aren't called to.

Thanks so much for sharing, Peggy. This last statement really gives us something to think about!

Anne
 
Posts: 172 | Location: Missouri | Registered: 10 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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