Early in the 20th century, a movement began to spring up out of mainline Protestant churches. This movement came from Christians who started to experience the power of the Holy Spirit in a profound way. The gifts they received at Baptism were more awakened inside them and they started to worship God in a more outward manner. Because these Christians were misunderstood, they essentially were pushed out of their mainline churches and this started the Pentecostal movement of churches. So, when did this same sort of movement come to the Catholic Church?
The Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church started in Pittsburgh. There was a retreat held at Duquesne University in February 1967. Many of the students and faculty who attended this retreat had very powerful experiences. They did not plan it, but one evening while praying before the Blessed Sacrament, God simply sent them the unexpected gift of Baptism in the Holy Spirit. In other words, they experienced a personal outpouring of the Holy Spirit. That event has become known as the “Duquesne Weekend.” Many had experienced a renewal of their spiritual lives and a new power was opened up that helped them communicate and evangelize what Christ meant to them.
Unlike their Protestant counterparts who left their respective churches to form new ones, these people had no intention of leaving the Catholic Church. One of the students wanted to see what the Catholic Church said of her experience. She researched the Vatican II documents and found the affirmation that she needed within the Catholic Church. One of the main messages that the Second Vatican Council taught was the importance of the “universal call to holiness.” Vatican II taught in chapter five of “Lumen Gentium,” that Jesus, “preached holiness of life to each and every one of His disciples of every condition,” and that Jesus calls all Christians “to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity.” The Council also taught that Jesus gives us the call and the ability to fulfill it because Jesus, “sent the Holy Spirit upon all men that He might move them inwardly to love God with their whole heart and their whole soul, with all their mind and all their strength and that they might love each other as Christ loves them.”
From that weekend retreat, this charismatic movement started to spread throughout the United States and the whole Church. It took shape in the form of prayer meetings, rallies and large scale conferences. It is predominately a lay Catholic movement, although bishops, priests and religious all belong to it. For more on the history of this movement, watch this video produced by the Catholic Church:
It says in the book of Acts; “Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each of them. And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim (Acts 2:3-4).” By definition, Baptism in the Holy Spirit is the: “personal, intense experience that many Charismatic share through which God’s spirit recharges them and fills them with spiritual energy and enthusiasm. This enthusiasm, according to charismatic in the church community, gives some of them one or more special gifts -such as healing of the body or glossolalia (the ability to speak in tongues).” Baptism in the Holy Spirit is not a sacrament, but is meant as a stirring up or release of the same Holy Spirit which was received at the Sacrament of Baptism.
What is a Catholic Charismatic Prayer Meeting?
A “Charismatic Prayer Meeting” is a weekly gathering of Christians who give praise, thanks, honor, and love to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. It’s a time to gather in community, to praise God on a one-to-one basis, as the Holy Spirit moves them.
A prayer meeting is not a discussion club, a therapy session, or a time for counseling. Christians gather together to give their full attention to Jesus through the help of the Holy Spirit (who will teach all truth.)
A Prayer Meeting Has Two Purposes:
1. To praise, worship, and honor God
2. To build up the Body of Christ (as brothers and sisters)
Until next time, God bless.