Serving The Lord Jesus Christ   *   Serving The Roman Catholic Church   *   Serving The Bishop Of The Diocese Of Rockford, Illinois

The Catholic Charismatic Renewal – An Experience of the Holy Spirit

What is parched, make fruitful…
What  is rigid, gently bend…
What is frozen, warmly tend…

The Catholic Charismatic Renewal is an integral part of the Church, a movement within the Church, that brings people into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as risen Lord and living Savior. In an ongoing extension of Pentecost, Jesus continues to send His Holy Spirit with His gifts and graces (“charisms” in Greek) on the earth to renew the Church and the lives of individual Christians.

Cardinal Leon Suenens, Archbishop of Malines-Brussels, Belgium, stated: “Since every genuine renewal depends on the Holy Spirit, all spiritual movements in the Church can rightly be called ‘charismatic’ (meaning ‘grace’), and all Christians are ‘charismatic’ by virtue of baptism.”

The Catholic Charismatic Renewal began in 1967, when a group of students and faculty from Duquesne University gathered for a weekend of prayer and reflection on the Acts of the Apostles. They prayed that the Holy Spirit would be alive in them as he was alive in the first Christians following Pentecost. The Holy Spirit did come upon them in power, imparting to them an overwhelming sense of the presence of God, giving them the gifts of praying in tongues and prophecy and a thirst for and insight into Scripture, touching them so that their lives would never again be the same. This renewal in the Holy Spirit soon spread to other campuses and parishes and eventually throughout America and the world.

The Charismatic Renewal began in the wake of Vatican II because both belonged together. Pope John XXIII in convening the Council, prayed for a new Pentecost in the entire Church. The Charismatic Renewal is one way in which this prayer was answered.

Millions of Catholics today in more than 163 countries are involved in the Charismatic Renewal. What accounts for this dramatic growth? Those involved in the Renewal say that God has touched them in some profound way, releasing the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

The goal of the Charismatic Renewal is to serve the mission of the Church by enabling people to live a renewed and Christian life in the power of the Holy Spirit. Every Christian is called to be charismatic.

In the Charismatic Renewal, Catholics speak of being “baptized in the Holy Spirit.” This statement does not change the Catholic teaching about the sacrament of baptism. It simply means that the power of the Spirit received in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation often awaits a fuller “release” in the lives of many Christians.

Catholic Theologian, Kilian McDonnell, OSB, stated, “Baptism in the Holy Spirit manifests itself in an adult when he says yes to what objectively took place during the rites of initiation (Baptism and Confirmation).”

Some effects and fruits of being baptized in the Holy Spirit are: A more personal relationship with Jesus; a greater love for private prayer; a desire to join with others in praise of God; a deep sense of peace; a greater love for Scripture and for the Eucharist; increasing love for the Father and the Holy Spirit and Mary; a greater love for the priesthood and for the Church; and love manifested in action by service to the spiritually and materially poor.

Being “baptized in the Holy Spirit” is scriptural. Jesus used this term when He told His disciples: “Wait for the fulfillment of my Father’s promise of which you have heard me speak. John baptized with water, but within a few days, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit – You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes down on you; then you are to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria; yes, even to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:4-5, 8). In all four gospels, John the Baptist states it is Jesus who will baptize in the Holy Spirit.

 Many people are baptized in the Holy Spirit during “Life in the Spirit” Seminars. This is a program that explains what it means to be baptized in the Spirit and provides an opportunity for shared prayer, fellowship, and sound teaching. Many prayer groups offer these seminars. All that is required is that we be open to the work of the Holy Spirit and that we turn our lives over to Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit will honor a simple prayer in which we recommit our lives to Jesus Christ and ask that the power of the Holy Spirit be released in us.

While being baptized in the Holy Spirit is an initial experience of a fuller working of the Spirit in one’s life, emphasis is not on the initial experience but on the renewed life in the Spirit that should follow it. Our own personal holiness will be our greatest strength in helping to build the Church. We need to persevere every day in prayer, Scripture study and righteous living. We need to obey God and draw close to him, and intercede for  the needs of the Church.

Thousands of Catholics in the United States attend weekly charismatic prayer meetings. The distinguishing factors of these groups from others is their praise of Jesus Christ as Lord and the use of the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit including healing, prophecy, speaking in tongues, and spontaneous prayer.

Ongoing growth and teaching in the Renewal are  often made available through Life in the Spirit Seminars, days of renewal, retreats, conferences and healing ministries. In the Rockford Diocese these services are provided under the sponsorship of Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services. 

The grace of Pentecost has been given to us in this generation just as it was given to the first Christians. It is a gift for the whole Church It is a grace intended to renew the face of the earth!


Come, Lord Jesus, give us Your Light,
We give You our minds.

Come, Lord Jesus, give us Your Love,
We give You our hearts.

Come, Lord Jesus, give us Your Wisdom,
We give You our lives.

Come, Lord Jesus, give us Your Spirit,
We give You our all.

Come, Lord Jesus, reign in our hearts!t