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Catholic Charismatic Renewal offers training in Trois-Rivieres

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Pope John Paul II welcomed the laying on of hands, speaker says
By Deborah GyapongICCRS formation director James Murphy (left) teaches with the president of the French Quebec sector of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal of Canada Henri Lemay providing translation. Photo courtesy Robert Du Broy (CCN).ICCRS formation director James Murphy (left) teaches with the president of the French Quebec sector of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal of Canada Henri Lemay providing translation. Photo courtesy Robert Du Broy (CCN).

The International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services (ICCRS) held a leadership training course in Trois-Rivieres, Que., May 29 -- June 6 to renew and equip 160 participants.

ICCRS, a private association of the faithful recognized by the Holy See since 1993, promotes unity among various Catholic Charismatic Renewal groups and ministries, and is committed to being "ambassadors of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit."

James Murphy, ICCRS international director of formation, explained in an interview that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is anchored in Catholic theology and ecclesiology and is not a Protestant import into the Catholic Church.

Evidence of the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit is present not only in Scripture but also in the writings of early Church fathers and saints like Augustine, he said.

Unlike some Pentecostal denominations, which claim one must speak in tongues as evidence of this baptism, Murphy said from a Catholic standpoint, the Holy Spirit is received at baptism and confirmation. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is an experience of being overwhelmed and transformed by God.

He gave what he admitted was a poor analogy. Imagine you want to make chocolate milk, he said. You squirt some chocolate syrup into a glass of milk. You taste it and it still tastes like ordinary milk. The chocolate syrup is there, but it's sunk to the bottom of the glass. The milk needs to be stirred or shaken up to become chocolate milk, he said.

A man might go to Mass for years, rather ho-hum about it, checking his watch, wondering what he's going to have for breakfast, he said. But one day, the priest elevates the Host and the man bursts into tears. He suddenly recognizes this is the Lord. It's that kind of experiential faith where "the lights come on," he said.

Murphy recalled meeting a woman who told him she went to Mass regularly and was a good mother and wife, so she did not need a relationship with Jesus or an experience of the Holy Spirit. He said he wondered what she thought heaven would be like, when we are in the presence of God in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

This recent teaching session primarily in French drew people from around the world, in addition to charismatic Catholics from Quebec and Ontario.

Murphy recalls participating in a similar training session in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2010. He said he noticed a non-descript priest who entered the back of the room and made himself a cup of coffee. Only after people began flocking to him did he come to realize it was Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

He was so humble and unassuming that Murphy said he failed to make the connection immediately after Bergoglio became Pope Francis.

Pope Francis, who recently attended a gathering of 50,000 Catholic charismatics in a Rome stadium, is not the first pope who has supported the movement, Murphy said.

Pope Paul VI, Saint John Paul II and Benedict XVI were also supportive. Murphy recalled meeting with John Paul II when he was already old and infirm. A small group with him asked the late pope if he would mind if they laid hands on him and prayed for him. The pope welcomed it, he said.

Murphy said there was lots of evidence of charismatic gifts in the early Church, but some heretical movements such as Gnostics and Montanists took private revelation too far, making them believe they could receive directly from the Holy Spirit and therefore did not need the Church. These movements were rightly condemned as heretical, he said. Even in the letters of Paul, there are admonitions against a disorderly display of charismatic gifts.

The pendulum had swung too far in one direction, Murphy said. It would have been nice if it had "stopped in the middle" but it continued to go so far in the opposite direction that many in the Church began to express a distrust of any experiential manifestations of the faith.

The modern Catholic Charismatic Renewal came to life in the 1960s and 70s while a similar wave swept Protestant denominations. While some might say the movement leapt from the Protestant side, Murphy said there was evidence of a "sovereign move" of the Holy Spirit in Catholic Circles. One example happened in 1967 at a chapel in Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, known as the "Duquesne Weekend," which some credit as the birth of the Catholic Charismatic movement in North America.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 June 2014 07:53  

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