Charismatics Pray for a Personal Experience of Pentecost

Published in  The Catholic Spirit, August 13, 2014, by Susan Klemond

Charismatic praise, including praying in other tongues and raising hands in worship, was foreign to Allen Illgen. But he decided to attend the Archdiocesan Catholic Charismatic Renewal Office’s rally, “The Lavish Gifts of God” held Aug. 9 in Eagan, because he had experienced the power of the Holy Spirit and wanted to learn more about the Spirit’s gifts.

Two years ago, while Illgen was talking to Ross Feder, a fellow parishioner at St. Mary of the Lake in White Bear Lake, Feder suddenly stopped the conversation to pray for the protection of Illgen’s then-16-year-old son.

Two weeks later, Illgen’s son walked away uninjured after an accident that had completely destroyed the SUV he was driving. Illgen said he believes his son might not be alive if Feder hadn’t been prompted by the Holy Spirit to pray.

“It allows me to look at what’s important and focus on God,” Illgen said.

According to speakers at the rally, the Holy Spirit empowers in us gifts such as knowledge, which we receive at baptism and confirmation, when we seek an outpouring of the Spirit in our lives — referred to especially by charismatics as the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Other gifts outlined in Scripture include wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, piety, fear of the Lord, preaching, teaching, prophecy and

healing, which are meant to be used for our growth in holiness, sharing the Gospel and helping others.

Along with listening to talks by Charismatic Renewal leaders Sister Nancy Kellar and Peter Herbeck, and participating in praise and worship, many of the estimated 160 attendees from the archdiocese and other dioceses around the upper Midwest prayed for a greater release of the Holy Spirit in their lives and manifestation of the gifts.

Started during a retreat in the 1960s, the Charismatic Renewal is defined as the Holy Spirit’s ongoing action in our lives to bring us into closer relationship with Jesus.

“When you’re touched by the Spirit, you want to share what God has done in your life, and you have an authentic experience of God,” Sister Nancy said in an interview. She is a member of the Charismatic Community House of the Sisters of Charity in Scarsdale, N.Y.

The gifts of the Spirit are for personal holiness, unity and mission, she said. They help us grow in prayer, holiness, reconciliation of relationships, marriage and relationships with children.

We need the Holy Spirit to bring faith to our children who’ve left the Church, and to their children, Sister Nancy said.

“The gifts of the Spirit free us,” she said. “They give us not only a new courage and boldness, but the equipment we need to witness to the people about Jesus in our lives.”

The Holy Spirit creates movement toward holiness and Jesus’ mission, said Herbeck, vice president and director of missions for Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Renewal Ministries and Eternal Word Television Network host. He added that the gifts are for advancing that mission.

“It’s toward love of neighbor and seeking and saving the lost,” he said in an interview. “The Spirit’s ready to animate anybody who’s willing to say, ‘I will live it with all my heart.’”

Recent popes have affirmed that Pentecost is for today and for the whole Church.

“I don’t think the New Evangelization is going to have much effect, power or dynamism without a new Pentecost,” he said. “That’s a personal Pentecost for individuals, a new Pentecost in parishes, dioceses, coming alive.”

The Charismatic Renewal has brought Christians to an expectancy of Pentecost in their lives — an expectancy of the Holy Spirit manifested in the early Church, Sister Nancy said.

It’s not necessary to raise your hands and pray in tongues to be charismatic, you just have to surrender your life to Christ, said Deacon Mike Thoennes, CCRO board member.

“In actuality, it is a heartbeat that continues to pump as the Spirit of the Lord presses people on to renewal,” he said.

Jim Joerger of Alexandria described the rally as “enlightening.”

“There’s much more to the Spirit than I knew,” he said.

In his charismatic prayer group, he seeks his expectancy as a barometer of the Holy Spirit working in his life.

Feder, who has attended CCRO conferences and rallies in the past, said he has a new hunger for Christ and a call to activate the Holy Spirit’s gifts. He said he saw the Holy Spirit reach people at the rally.

“One touch changes you,” he said.

Mary Nawrocki, CCRO board president, said she hoped attendees would leave the rally renewed and refreshed.

“And that we go out and be expectant, and as the Holy Spirit will take each of us out, things will start happening,” she said.

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