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Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Sweden. Newsletter January 2023
Bengt Malmgren
/ Categories: CCR

Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Sweden. Newsletter January 2023

from Bengt Malmgren

In this letter:  Charismatic renewal an integral part of the full life of the Church. Pope Francis' intention with CHARIS. Benedict XVI on the life in the Holy Spirit. CHARIS in the Nordic countries -  so far we have come today. As a single member of a local congregation and calling for a more vibrant charismatic community, what can you do? Ecumenical Week of Prayer.

 

In this letter:  Charismatic renewal an integral part of the full life of the Church. Pope Francis' intention with CHARIS. Benedict XVI on the life in the Holy Spirit. CHARIS in the Nordic countries -  so far we have come today. As a single member of a local congregation and calling for a more vibrant charismatic community, what can you do? Ecumenical Week of Prayer.

 

A new year has begun, we are living in a time of crisis where, among other things, a cruel war of aggression with terror against the civilian population plagues us here in Europe, which only further brings to the fore the fact that the light of God and the power of the Holy Spirit are needed in our lives and in society.


Charismatic renewal is an integral part of the full life of the Church.

There are still those who look at Charismatic renewal as something odd that the Catholic Church doesn't need. Even from priests one hears such comments. Then you should know that it is completely against Catholic faith and doctrine. 

When we mention the Holy Spirit as the Lord and the giver of life in the Creed, it is not only as a theoretical abstract figure of thought, but as a concrete agent in our lives, as active and powerful as it is portrayed in the book of Acts. As long as the majority of christian-faithful, consecrated as well as lay people are unaware of this, much of the evangelizing power inherent in the community of the Church remains untapped.

The Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) stated that the charismatic gifts are at work and should be sought with zeal even today. We all need to open ourselves to the full life of the Holy Spirit that was given to us when we came to faith. Luke speaks in the book of Acts about people being "baptized in the Holy Spirit", it is of course an image that has nothing to do with water-baptism but that wants to describe how transformative this is, that we become enveloped, soaked in the Spirit. One misconception is that it must be accompanied by strong emotional manifestations ("happy clappy") and that charismatic renewal is only about that. But it's really a side issue. Emotions can be involved, but it might as well be a quietly experience.

The charismatic dimension should not be seen as a special spirituality but as an integral part of the full life of the Church. Cardinal Suenens said that the task of charismatic renewal is to abolish itself, and look forward to the day when the full life of the Spirit and the spiritual gifts of grace are naturally occurring everywhere so that there is no need for charismatic renewal.


Pope Francis' intention with CHARIS

Pope Francis has recognized the importance of Charismatic renewal in conveying the full life and power of the Spirit that the Catholic Church needs to fulfill its evangelizing mission. Therefore, he has instituted CHARIS as a structure to support and maintain contact between the Vatican and Charismatic Renewal throughout the world. At Pentecost 2019, he said he desired three things from Charismatic Renewal: 

1. Share "the baptism in the Holy Spirit" with everyone in the Church.
2. Serve the unity of the Body of Christ
3. Serve the poor and those most in need physically and spiritually.

 

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is: 
 

“… an outpouring of spiritual gifts called baptism in the Holy Spirit, involving
a personal encounter with Jesus Christ as Saviour, an openness to the Word
of God, to exercising the charisms and to evangelization in faithful service of the 
Church.” From article 1, statutes of Charis.


“... a life-transforming experience of the love of
God the Father poured into one’s heart by the Holy Spirit, received through a
surrender to the lordship of Jesus Christ. It brings alive sacramental baptism
and confirmation, deepens communion with God and with fellows Christians,
enkindles evangelistic fervour and equips a person with charisms for service
and mission”
Source: Baptism in the Holy Spirit, Jubilee Anniversary Edition, Doctrinal
Commission of ICCRS, part I p.15.

 

Benedict XVI on the life in the Holy Spirit

The former pope, Benedict XVI, who recently died, also strongly supported the charismatic renewal. At a meeting of the new movements of the Church of Pentecost in 2006 in Rome, he spoke of the Holy Spirit:
 

"Those very people who, as Christians, believe in the Creator Spirit become aware of the fact that we cannot use and abuse the world and matter merely as material for our actions and desires; that we must consider creation a gift that has not been given to us to be destroyed, but to become God’s garden, hence, a garden for men and women.

In the face of the many forms of abuse of the earth that we see today, let us listen, as it were, to the groaning of creation of which St Paul speaks (Rom 8: 22); let us begin by understanding the Apostle’s words, that creation waits with impatience for the revelation that we are children of God, to be set free from bondage and obtain his splendour.
Dear friends, we want to be these children of God for whom creation is waiting, and we can become them because the Lord has made us such in Baptism. Yes, creation and history – they are waiting for us, for men and women who are truly children of God and behave as such.
-----

However, in the course of human history, a thick layer of dirt has covered God’s good creation, which makes it difficult if not impossible to perceive in it the Creator’s reflection, although the knowledge of the Creator’s existence is reawakened within us ever anew, as it were, spontaneously, at the sight of a sunset over the sea, on an excursion to the mountains or before a flower that has just bloomed. But the Creator Spirit comes to our aid. He has entered history and speaks to us in a new way. In Jesus Christ, God himself was made man and allowed us, so to speak, to cast a glance at the intimacy of God himself.
----

Pentecost is this: Jesus, and through him God himself, actually comes to us and draws us to himself. 'He sends forth the Holy Spirit' – this is what Scripture says... 'I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly', Jesus says in the Gospel of John (10: 10). Life and freedom: these are the things for which we all yearn. But what is this – where and how do we find 'life'?
-------

Dear friends, the Movements were born precisely of the thirst for true life; they are Movements for life in every sense.
----

The Holy Spirit... makes us sons and daughters of God. He involves us in the same responsibility that God has for his world, for the whole of humanity. He teaches us to look at the world, others and ourselves with God’s eyes. We do not do good as slaves who are not free to act otherwise, but we do it because we are personally responsible for the world; because we love truth and goodness, because we love God himself and therefore, also his creatures. This is the true freedom to which the Holy Spirit wants to lead us.

------
The Holy Spirit, in giving life and freedom, also gives unity. These are three gifts that are inseparable from one another.
-----

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the Spirit who unites the Father with the Son in Love, which in the one God he gives and receives. He unites us so closely that St Paul once said: 'You are all one in Jesus Christ' (Gal 3: 28). With his breath, the Holy Spirit impels us towards Christ. The Holy Spirit acts corporeally; he does not only act subjectively or 'spiritually'.
-----

'From Christ', St Paul tells us, 'the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love' (Eph 4: 16).
The Holy Spirit desires unity, he desires totality. Therefore, his presence is finally shown above all in missionary zeal.
------

Upon all of you I invoke an outpouring of the gifts of the Spirit, so that in our time too, we may have the experience of a renewed Pentecost. Amen!" [Link here]


CHARIS in the Nordic countries - so far we've come today.

CHARIS has a structure for enabling contact between the Vatican and the diversity of groups that exist within Charismatic renewal in each country (or as within the Nordic countries, several countries covered by the Nordic bishops' conference).

Such a structure is called the "National Service of communion" and should consist of representatives of the various groups that exist in the country and who want to participate. For administrative reasons, some coordinating persons may also be appointed.

As the interest has been very low within the groups that exist in Sweden to get involved in national cooperation, we have nevertheless, with the support of our contact person at the European level Tony Lauris, formed a small core consisting of Ludwig Gelot, Bengt Malmgren and Firas Daykh. We are also in contact with the bishop's vicar for evangelism in Stockholm's Catholic diocese msgr Andrés Bernar who Bishop Anders has assigned as the diocese's contact person with CHARIS.

Ludwig has an administratively coordinating task, he keeps in touch with CHARIS Europe and actively contacts parishes and groups in Sweden. A [website for CHARIS Nordic Service of Communion] has been set up by Ludwig. Bengt Malmgren continues to publish this newsletter, and the website [Karismatiskfornyelse.se] will also remain in place until further notice.

Firas Daykh is the contact person in Södertälje and is particularly focused on contact with young people and young adults.

Bengt Malmgren also represents the prayer group in the Catholic Cathedral, and Ludwig Gelot the prayer group in Järfälla, the two groups that have so far declared that they want to be part of the CHARIS community.

 


As a single member of a local parish and calling for a more vibrant charismatic community, what can you do?

Sometimes I get contacted by people around the country who wonder what has become of Charismatic renewal and want more activities such as Life in the Spirit seminars or national meetings. I must then explain that apart from sporadic activities in various parishes with visiting priests from abroad and a few prayer groups with few participants, not much happens compared to the flourishing activity that existed within the renewal decades 1970 - 2010. Above all, there is no coordinated work at national level.

The small coordination group that has now been formed hardly has the capacity to change this, because more functionaries are needed. If we want to work together at the national level with a vibrant CHARIS community, it requires more groups and contact persons to get involved in this at the local level.

But there is still a lot you can do already now. I would remind you that the purpose of the CHARIS national communities is not that there should be working groups centrally that organise everything, but that it is based on life emerging from below from the communities that exist.  E.g. that prayer groups locally seek contact and cooperation with other groups through the CHARIS network that is now being built up. I can imagine that the CHARIS network we are now building up, just as earlier in the old NSC (AKKS), can be based both on local prayer groups and contact-persons in places where there is no prayer community.

If you are alone in your parish, lack a prayer group and think that the vicar is not understanding the meaning with  Charismatic renewal, you can still start digging where you stand, here are some recommendations:

1. Do not complain that others are uncomprehending, but ask God to show you your gifts of grace and what opportunities you have to build based on your given situation.

2. Pray for the renewal, if nothing else alone, but also try to make some prayer friends. "Where two or three are assembled..."

3. Make sure to have a good connection with your vicar. Make sure to collaborate and offer your services in the areas that are possible, such as social work or ecumenism.

4. Get in touch and register in the CHARIS network for Sweden and take part in information and contact opportunities through that network.

5. Anyone who wants to be a volunteer and contact person within the CHARIS network is recommended to take the 2 semester internet-based course CHARIS INTEGRAL FORMATION PROGRAM. [Information here].

 

Ecumenical Week of Prayer

Ecumenical Week of Prayer has been going on since Wednesday. Charis, as mentioned, has been mandated by Pope Francis to also focus specifically on Christian unity. For the week of prayer, this material has been produced. [Link here]

From its beginning the Catholic Charismatic Renewal has been part of an ecumenical current of grace. CHARIS is therefore, according to its Statutes, “an instrument to promote and work for unity in the body of Christ, as expressed in the prayer of Jesus Christ (Jn17).” (Statuts – Preamble)

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/Bengt Malmgren

 

 

Links: 
Karismatiskfornyelse.se

CHARIS Norden

CHARIS international
 

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