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To read this conference on the Internet, click here.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

1. What thoughts/feelings do you have from reading this conference?

2. How do you feel about "organized religion?"

3. What difference does Christian community make in your own life? If this is a struggle at this time, please feel free to share why this is so.
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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1. What thoughts/feelings do you have from reading this conference?

Phil wrote:

Discovering our charisms helps us to come to understand something of our role in Christian community; implied in the Spirit's giving a charism is something of a call to use it for the good of the Body.


OK, but just who IS the Body? Only the Body of believers? To think that I am to share my charisms ONLY with the Body Of Believers seems so limiting. Am I not to share my gifts with non-believers? Am I only to share my gifts with the people who belong to MY church? Or am I to share my gifts for the good of mankind? This is what confuses me. You have probably explained this to me before, Phil, and here I am, not getting it again. Confused

It just sounds like everything has to be turned into churchwork. And those times when I've pushed myself into doing some sort of church work out of a sense that "that's what I'm supposed to do....I'm supposed to be sharing my gifts with the church" it always feel contrived or forced and.....wrong. Not natural, as you feel when you are doing spiritual writing.

Now, there ARE times when I am sharing and it comes easily and naturally, and I feel energized, as you say. But I don't need to be sharing within the context of church for that to happen. It almost sounds as if "it doesn't count" unless it happens within the context of "church."

Anne
 
Posts: 172 | Location: Missouri | Registered: 10 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Anne, a spiritual charism like teaching, healing, wisdom, etc. can be activated in many circumstances both within the context of formal Christian ministry and outside. As these charisms are generally oriented toward building the Christian community, it is more common to find them activated in that context. So, for example, as a writer, I can produce material about most anything that interests me, but I don't generally experience the charism of writing unless it's about something more or less explitly oriented to Christian faith. Same goes for my experience of the charism of teaching; I can teach about a variety of topics and sometimes experience the charism at work, but it seems to be really activated when I do Christian-related teaching in the community.

I guess we could speak of the Mystical Body as having many levels, some being outside the formal confines of the Church. Christ's risen life touches all, but only the Christian community is explicity committed to living by that life. Spiritual charisms are given so that members of the community can minister that life in various ways to one another. This can happen outside the Christian community as well, of course--as when someone with a gift of healing or mercy reaches out to another in need, regardless of their faith.

I guess I've said "yes," "no," and "it depends" in reply to your inquiries. Wink What is your experience of charisms and their activation? How about others?
 
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Hmmmm....well maybe I have many "gifts" but they just aren't charismatic gifts???

I've had the experience of producing artwork, and when the work was finished, I was in awe of what I had done....almost as if I hadn't done it. But that doesn't have anything to do with the Christian community. So I guess I don't really have any experience with charismatic gifts.

Anne
 
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I will share some thoughts I have been exposed to elsewhere, first, and then close with an example of a charism others have recognized in my life.

Paul VI spoke of how the Holy Spirit moves on two fronts :

quote:
"The first of these fronts is the individual soul..., that point where I am "I". Into this depth of our existence, mysterious even to ourselves, there comes the breath of the Holy Spirit; in the soul it spreads with this first and greatest charism, which we call grace and which is like new life, at once empowering the soul to act in ways which surpass its natural capacity".

"The power of Pentecost moves" on a second front which is "the visible body of the Church... Of course 'Spiritus ubi vult spirat' (Jn 3:8); but, in the economy decreed by Christ, it is through the apostolic ministry that the Spirit moves".
I have seen lists compiled of various charisms, usually covering about two dozen such gifts, and even those do not claim to be exhaustive. I have heard it said that very often a prayerful discernment process in community can help discover our charisms and that, even though, sometimes, their presence in persons in the community may not be so readily recognized, the fruits effected by such gifts can be readily perceived. Perhaps it must be so, then, that whenever we recognize the fruits of the spirit in someone's life (love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, friendliness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control), we can be assured that charisms, even yet to be recognized or named, are there at work, for the fruits envelop the gifts, always functioning together and always complementing one another.

The Church has both visible and invisible elements, individual and social aspects, related like body is to soul. It seems that there can be no denying that the Holy Spirit, like the wind, goes where She will, even enlivening nonbelievers with grace and charisms as they too reveal the fruits of the Spirit in their lives. The Spirit thus moves on Paul VI's first front throughout the invisible and individual elements of the Church. We see the Spirit's activity in believers from other Christian and nonChristian traditions as well as in the lives of nonbelievers. We see the Spirit's activity in the charisms bound up in the fruits of the Spirit that are evident in the lives of our loved ones, who may not belong to a church, for one reason or another.

And so, God might have dealt with individual souls as though no other individual souls existed, by direct and immediate action, without taking into account the actions, the reactions, and the interactions of souls upon one another; without the realities underlying the Mystical Body; he might have ensured the preservation of his doctrine by direct revelation to individual souls; he might have willed that his followers should have been unknown in this world and known only to him, linked without knowing it in the invisible, mysterious life of grace � with no external sign of communion.

There is a saying: We invoke because we have been convoked. And this is important. It recognizes that, as human creatures, we are radically social beings and also that we are very much sense-bound. For this reason, we have been given the visible church.

And so, Our individuality is respected, our social nature is respected too. Man is essentially a dependent being: dependent upon others for his life and his preservation, yearning for the company and the help of others. And so too in the supernatural life: the personal love of Our Lord for each one of us does not deprive us of the supernatural help, support, and sympathy of those with whom we are united in Christ, in his Church.

Man is a sense-bound creature and the appeal of sense is continuous. Our Lord has taken our nature into consideration. The merely invisible we can accept on his authority. But he has given us a visible Church, with recognizable rules and laws and doctrines and means of sanctification, in which man is at home. We accept Our Lord�s gift to us with gratitude and strive to avail ourselves of the visible and invisible character. He has willed that as individuals we should be united with him by sanctifying grace, and that at the same time we should be united to one another with a unique collectivity, an unparalleled solidarity, which is the reality designated as the Mystical Body of Christ. And he has further willed that all the members of that Mystical Body should be members of the visible, organized hierarchical society to which he has given the power of teaching, ruling, and sanctifying.

These italicized words are those of Monsignor Canon Edward Myers .

So, in trying to discern the gifts of the Spirit that have been operative in my life, I might consider which fruits of the Spirit have been most evident to myself and others. And I might then stop and ask, what was I doing when these fruits were being experienced by others? When has someone commented to me regarding my love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, friendliness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control? Or when or on what occasions have I experienced those fruits in others? Was there a special grace at work that seemed beyond me, outside of my natural talents? Was there a natural talent that seemed to have been inexplicably surpassed?

Albert A. Caprio, OP, from the Catholic Student Center at Rutgers writes:
quote:
Right now, we will treat particularly the gifts of the Spirit which DIRECTLY EFFECT OUR DAILY LIVES. Our daily life is especially important to the work of the Spirit because the routine of daily life occupies the major part of our time. Only a few hours are dedicated to special reunions or prayer sessions in the Church. Most Christians spend more time with people who do not have an active relationship with Christ than with those who believe. The world needs the work of the Lord as much as the Church needs it. That's why this aspect is extremely important.
He then goes on to list and discuss: 1) word of wisdom 2) word of knowledge 3) gift of faith 4) healing 5) miracles 6) prophecy and 7) discernment of spirits, as operative both in our individual daily lives among nonbelievers and as operative for the advancement of the visible Kingdom.

More to the point of personal sharing, on many occasions I have sensed that I have spoken a word of wisdom, albeit unbeknownst to me at the time I spoke it or wrote it. This is most especially evident when, sometimes many days, weeks, months or even years later, someone quotes something I said or wrote that I don't even recall saying or writing --- and they testify that it somehow especially consoled them in a time of sorrow, or clarified their thoughts in a time of confusion. Or perhaps when they relay a quote from me I will get the notion that: Hey, that's pretty good. Are you sure I was the one who said that? This has happenned to me in situations in both the visible and invisible aspects of Church. I feel the Mystical Body is edified by charisms in both aspects and I pray for our visible communities be made one, in complete solidarity.

pax,
jb
 
Posts: 2881 | Registered: 25 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by AnneD:
Hmmmm....well maybe I have many "gifts" but they just aren't charismatic gifts???
One habitually present fruit of the Spirit, Anne, in your sharings at Shalomplace has been joy . Looking inside the envelope of that fruit of the Spirit, one can assuredly find the charism of humor !

According to Reinhold Niebuhr:
quote:
Humor is prelude to faith and laughter is the beginning of prayer.
You may especially enjoy (and see your giftedness) in this article: And then God said: Lighten Up! by Dolores Curran and may see some humor in the fact that the name Dolores means sorrow Big Grin

love,
jb
 
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My thoughts go back to a definition of the Mystical Body that I learned after Vatican II. The Mystical Body is composed of all those who are united to God through faith, hope, and love. I still feel that way. Even though I believe I belong to the Church Christ founded and have never been tempted (tested, but not tempted) to change, I feel a oneness with all other Christian communities. All Christian communities fall short of unconditional love, and when I observe it outside of Christianity, I feel a shame that motivates me all the more to cling to the Body of Believers and be a catalyst to myself and others to grow in unconditional love.

I hear what this conference is saying. Oneness in the Spirit in a community of Believers brings the charisms to life and gives life to the Body. Thanks to johnboy's post which helps me in awareness of discerning the charisms. "Organized religion" provides the setting. To me, it is the only way to have that "abundant life" Christ promised.

Christian community is a source of life for me. Of course, it is a struggle. Isn't that how we grow in faith? If it is not a struggle, especially in times of change (we are in the process of combining three Church parishes into one), one has not yet either taken the plunge or is in denial. The "washing of the feet" causes some to become addicted to it, and others to feel confronted or inadequate. This conference helped me and reminded me that I must affirm the charisms of others, and humbly accept what they affirm in me. I am blessed to be a part of a small faith group within the larger Church Community. Our 3 parish cluster recently had a mission by Doug Brummel who teaches the faith through all the different characters he portrays, as well as music and song. All ages loved it. His point is that we are all a bunch of characters. So "lighten up". (Please don't let this last statement keep you from freely expressing your feelings and struggles. Phil is waiting to help)
Love in Christ,
Nettie
 
Posts: 10 | Location: Gramercy, Louisiana | Registered: 23 February 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The "washing of the feet" causes some to become addicted to it, and others to feel confronted or inadequate.

Nettie, that was powerful and insightful.

I think it takes a careful and prayerful discernment approach to identifying charisms. If our definition of charism is too narrowly conceived, then many may indeed be made to feel inadequate. If our definitions of charism and of church are too broadly conceived, then we will have secularized our spirituality.

In a separate thread at Shalomplace, we were discussing Satyana's Principles of Spiritual Activism and it struck me how spiritual activism in the political arena can have its analogies in church ministry, too.

For instance, Non-attachment to outcome. This is difficult to put into practice, yet to the extent that we are attached to the results of our work, we rise and fall with our successes and failures�a sure path to burnout. Hold a clear intention, and let go of the outcome�recognizing that a larger wisdom is always operating. As Gandhi said, "the victory is in the doing," not the results. Also, remain flexible in the face of changing circumstances: "Planning is invaluable, but plans are useless."(Churchill)

Also, especially this principle: You are unique. Find and fulfill your true calling. "It is better to tread your own path, however humbly, than that of another, however successfully." (Bhagavad Gita) Also, items 8 - 12 of those principles are something to keep in mind regarding the exercise of charisms, I believe. I recommend reading them and thinking of ministry.

And there is always my favorite Merton quote:
quote:
��If we attempt to act and do things for others or for the world without deepening our own self-understanding, our own freedom, integrity and capacity to love, we will not have anything to give to others. We will communicate nothing but the contagion of our own obsessions, our aggressiveness, our ego-centered ambitions.�
As for Doug Brummel, I hope the Heartland Dominicans and their fellow sisters from the MotherHouse get a chance to see him this August when he's in Great Bend for a mission! Thanks for the advertising space, Phil.

pax,
jb
 
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jb wrote: You may especially enjoy (and see your giftedness) in this article: And then God said: Lighten Up! by Dolores Curran and may see some humor in the fact that the name Dolores means sorrow

Thanks for referring me to the article jb. I did enjoy it.

jb also wrote:

I think it takes a careful and prayerful discernment approach to identifying charisms. If our definition of charism is too narrowly conceived, then many may indeed be made to feel inadequate. If our definitions of charism and of church are too broadly conceived, then we will have secularized our spirituality.

Yes, you hit the nail on the head. Thank you.

Anne
 
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The fourth conference moved us from the experiential to the theological, in many ways. In my own life, I find these two levels constantly informing one another, so that the experiential leads to questions of meaning in the light of faith, and theological convictions lead me to new experiences.

So in light of what I shared about the Mystical Body of Christ in the fourth conference, I'm wondering what difference this all makes to your sense of identity and mission?

I will say that, for me, this knowing that I am a member of Christ's Mystical Body keeps me focused in several ways:
a. that my true life comes from him, and not my own biological and psychological endowments.
b. that my true identity is somehow linked with his.
c. that my true "mission" in life is in reference to building up the Mystical Body;
d. that my "work" is not merely the exercising of my own talents, but Christ working through me;
e. that I am in a profound relationship of belonging with others in the Body, even if we don't always experience that with each other.

What I am saying is that these are intellectual affirmations which become verified to some extent through experience, and vice versa. We need not quibble, here, over the "boundaries" of the Body; it is this belonging to Christ, to one another, and living by the life of his risen body that is the core of what I am sharing here. We can easily lose this focus and awareness, forget who we really are, and what we are about. If we look to experience alone to awaken us to the reality of our life in the body, we might not see very much, especially if we are in a complacent community. That's where these intellectual affirmations can be helpful.

Comments? Questions?
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Phil wrote:

I will say that, for me, this knowing that I am a member of Christ's Mystical Body keeps me focused in several ways:
a. that my true life comes from him, and not my own biological and psychological endowments.
b. that my true identity is somehow linked with his.
c. that my true "mission" in life is in reference to building up the Mystical Body;
d. that my "work" is not merely the exercising of my own talents, but Christ working through me;
e. that I am in a profound relationship of belonging with others in the Body, even if we don't always experience that with each other.

Thanks so much for sharing that, Phil. Those ideas most certainly could change the whole focus of one's life. Just "praying" the above would make a great morning offering prayer, I think.

You've certainly given me food for thought.

Anne
 
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I think the thing that got me most excited as I read and reread the conference was how closely Jesus identifies with us as Church. I've known and read and said and heard for years that we're the body of Christ and have different gifts, etc etc etc., but I'd never thought of the body of Christ in terms of Jesus saying to Saul, "Why do you persecute me?", indicating that if his church is being persecuted, so is he. It's amazing to think that I, weak as I am, amd accepted by Jesus himself as part of something he identifies with. I also like the part about the same Spirit that worked in Jesus is flowing through the Christian community, and it makes me want to get right smack dab in the middle of it!!! As for organized religion, I'm not opposed to it, unless it becomes something where the rules and the organization itself, and preserving the organization, become more important than realizing why it exists in the first place. I think there has to be some organization; but if the organization becomes god, I don't like that. I think the cool thing about Christian community is that in the reality of it, we're constantly coming into contact with other members' shortcomings and weaknesses, as well as their strengths, which, when rubbed up against our own, can be pretty painful. But if we use the experience wisely, as a springboard for reflection and prayer, we can grow from it. Sometimes though it's easier to just pull back or leave. But of course then we're cutting ourselves off from the flow of the Spirit. Just some ramblings from Sacramento.
quote:
Originally posted by Phil:
[qb] To read this conference on the Internet, click here.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

1. What thoughts/feelings do you have from reading this conference?

2. How do you feel about "organized religion?"

3. What difference does Christian community make in your own life? If this is a struggle at this time, please feel free to share why this is so. [/qb]
 
Posts: 46 | Location: Sacramento, CA | Registered: 14 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
I will say that, for me, this knowing that I am a member of Christ's Mystical Body keeps me focused in several ways:
a. that my true life comes from him, and not my own biological and psychological endowments.
b. that my true identity is somehow linked with his.
c. that my true "mission" in life is in reference to building up the Mystical Body;
d. that my "work" is not merely the exercising of my own talents, but Christ working through me;
e. that I am in a profound relationship of belonging with others in the Body, even if we don't always experience that with each other.
In meditating on what this theology expresses about our origin, identity, mission, work and solidarity in community, I can see how these are very human needs, that, from an anthropological perspective, all humanity shares. All religions, then, thus permeate the temporal order, variously improving it, meeting such needs of individuals, societies and cultures.

I can use the approaches of these other religions as a foil, then, in order to better understand and appreciate how it is that Christianity meets such needs in its unique and distinctive way.

It would take many volumes to inventory the manifold and multiform ways that the Gospel has transformed individuals, societies and cultures, through its influence on philosophy and metaphysics and theology, on the arts and humanities and science, through its forming, reforming and transforming of one person at a time and of entire peoples, too.

For all of our sufferings and shortcomings as a Pilgrim People, our journey has been a luminous one, real light for the world, a true joy to experience, real salt for the earth, and a glory to behold, very much a city on a hill.

There is a challenge then. Knowing that any church membership can meet very human needs, providing us social amenities, cultural affinities and even political agenda, we might ask of ourselves and our communities, what is it that others might see as unique and distinctive in our lives that can be attributed to an embrace of Jesus and His Gospel?
 
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From Peggy: . . . It's amazing to think that I, weak as I am, amd accepted by Jesus himself as part of something he identifies with. I also like the part about the same Spirit that worked in Jesus is flowing through the Christian community, and it makes me want to get right smack dab in the middle of it!!! . . .

Yes! Smiler That's what affirming these kinds of truths can do: motivate us to realize them experientially!

And Anne, that little reflection is one that I use at times when I just need to remember what's really going on in my life and in the world.

Johnboy: I can use the approaches of these other religions as a foil, then, in order to better understand and appreciate how it is that Christianity meets such needs in its unique and distinctive way.

That's certainly been my experience. Contact with other religious traditions helps me to see more deeply into the human condition, our longing for God, God's longing for us, and how fully that has been satisfied in Christ. Often, however, these other traditions do have gifts to share with us, and we can benefit greatly if we are well-rooted in our own tradition.

. . . what is it that others might see as unique and distinctive in our lives that can be attributed to an embrace of Jesus and His Gospel?

Class? Wink
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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. . . what is it that others might see as unique and distinctive in our lives that can be attributed to an embrace of Jesus and His Gospel?

Class? Wink

Main Entry: 1class
Pronunciation: 'klas
Function: noun
Usage: often attributive
2c : high quality : ELEGANCE
5 : the best of its kind

Some preacher loaned my neighbor a DVD of The Passion and I watched it last night. Of all of the mixed emotions and interpretations, I came away with the distinct notion that, under the worst possible circumstances imaginable, Jesus had class . Something our protomartyr St. Stephen was soon to emulate. And it is a type of class that clearly must be a charism, surpassing our natural human capacities. I've witnessed this in the lives of certain members of my own community, who have been through incredible suffering, but who haven't turned bitter or cynical, who have lived on with such courage and real class. I think of certain widows who have lost, not only their spouses but, also, children, grandchildren. That's the other thing that struck me about The Passion, Mary's intense love and suffering and class.

That is indeed one distinct way of answering the call, among others, to be sure. It is also a way for us to avoid scandalizing others and to give witness to our relationship with Our Father; to behave with class. I like that, Phil.

pax,
jb
 
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Umm, just a tad off-topic, JB, but where'd your neighbor get a DVD of "The Passion"? Is that out already?
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Phil:
[qb] Umm, just a tad off-topic, JB, but where'd your neighbor get a DVD of "The Passion"? Is that out already? [/qb]
The story was it was from his preacher, which I took may have been involved in some type of advanced promotional effort. No way it could be out through conventional means, as you know. It can be preordered at Amazon.
 
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Sorry I am posting late this week. I broke and dislocated my ankle and this was my first week back. I have a boot on instead of a cast but was it tiring. AnywayI have moved from the idea of a spiritual body of Christ to the idea of a visible Body of Christ or that the fullness of truth is contained in a visible body or Church if you will. My reasons is the choas, wierdness, and contradictory nature of Churches that I belonged too or came from. My background is fundamentalism and Evangelicalism. I also find it helpful to belong to small groups,and long to live communally again. There is something concretely Christian and challenging when we are engaged in active Christian community and encouraged to be accountable and deepen our faith. Another source God's grace in my life has been 12 step groups. Even when I stumble and fall no matter the situation here is a place I can always return and be 100% honest with others and find some healing. This is something Catholicism could do better and learn from its Charismatic and Evangelical brothers doctrinally they are all over the map but they understand the need for community and small group or intential community formation. The Charismatic Renewal and base community movement understood this also in the Catholic Church.
 
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