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Charisms & the Flourishing of the Church PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 03 April 2007 07:05
Oswald Sorbino asks an challenging question this morning:

I seriously wonder if the decline of Christian churches is tied to the neglect of charisms. If charisms are for the building up of the Church, then it makes sense that their neglect leads to empty and dying churches. The fastest-growing form of Christianity today is the type that emphasizes the charisms. The fastest-declining form of Christianity today is the type that is oblivious to the charisms.

And charisms are not just extraordinary. They are also more ordinary in character--to the extent that we can dare to say that anything inspired by the Holy Spirit is ordinary--such as teaching, administration, helping, etc.

But, hold on, you might say: aren't such ordinary charisms present in all the Christian churches? Yes and no. The problem is that instead of focusing on charisms or gifts of the Holy Spirit, many churches with a secular, overrationalistic spirit instead view abilities like
teaching or administration as talents that come from us and are primarily part of our own self-realization.

When, instead, you look to talents as the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, something changes: we are no longer the focus, but the leading of the Holy Spirit is the focus. And where the Holy Spirit leads, churches grow and grow--just read the Acts of the Apostles.


I say it again: if charisms are given to build us up and to build up the rest of the Church, then their neglect equals decline. Ironically, there seems to be a form of orthodox or traditionalist Christianity that rejects the emphasis on charisms (for example, Southern Baptists and even some Catholics). Such rejection is ironic because these forms of orthodox Christianity have, willy-nilly, adopted the rationalistic viewpoint of the secular West, a viewpoint that rejects the supernatural, charismatic view of our talents. To the extent the charisms are neglected, we can say that those claiming to be orthodox are not being as orthodox as they think because they are neglecting an essential part of the deposit of faith so obviously displayed in the Scriptures of both the Old and New Testaments.

And I would add, as I have before: an essential part of the deposit of the faith to be found in the Fathers, in St. Thomas, in the documents of Vatican II and throughout magisterial teaching since Vatican II.

Charisms empower us to be instruments of the redemption that Christ accomplished through his Incarnation, earthly life, passion, death, and resurrection on our behalf.

Holy Week is an excellent time to resolve to begin your discernment for the sake of others and the sake of the Church herself. It is a wonderful way to celebrate the Resurrection by opening yourself to the ways that God intends you to be a small channel of that resurrection yourself.

You can always attend a live Called & Gifted workshop or pickup a cd or the workshop and an inventory from our store and begin yourself or with a small group of friends during the Easter season.

"Whether extraordinary or simply and humble, charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to her building up, to the good of men, and to the needs of the world." Catechism of the Catholic Church, 799)

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