Father Cantalamessa on Charismatic Renewal

Pontifical Household Preacher Recounts Personal Experience

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ROME, JUNE 14, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The Catholic Charismatic Renewal is "a joyful experience of God's grace," said Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the Pontifical Household.



Father Cantalamessa expressed this conviction on Pentecost at a gathering of more than 7,000 members of the CCR attending a meeting entitled "My Soul Magnifies the Lord."

Interviewed by ZENIT during the meeting, Father Cantalamessa recounted his personal experience in the CCR.

Q: In John's Gospel, Jesus answers Nicodemus' question affirming that the Spirit "blows where it wills." In your judgment, is it possible to interpret in what direction the Holy Spirit is blowing in his continuous irruption in history?

Father Cantalamessa: In the homily of the vigil of Pentecost, the Pope said something very beautiful when commenting on these words of John's Gospel. He did say that the Spirit "blows where he wills," but he clarified that he never blows in a disordered, contradictory way.

Therefore, we have behind us the whole tradition of the Church, the doctrine of the doctors, the teaching of the Church to discern which charisms are valid and which are not.

It might be that at the beginning some charisms make much noise, attract more attention, but that later, over time, reveal themselves instead to be unfounded.

The Church is like water: It receives all bodies, but the true, solid ones it engulfs, whereas it leaves the others on the surface. Empty charisms, which have only exterior manifestation, remain outside the Church.

Q: In the present context, do you believe that the ecclesial movements are called to a renewed evangelizing impulse, to be in the vanguard of the ecumenical dialogue, or to combat secularization or the crisis of families? What contribution can they make to the Church?

Father Cantalamessa: I am convinced, as the Pope has said he is convinced, that the movements are a grace for the Church of today. An appropriate answer to today's world, to the secularized world and to a world that priests and the hierarchy can no longer reach and which, consequently, needs the laity.

These lay movements are integrated in society; they live with others. I think, therefore, that they have an extraordinary task that, thank God, is not a utopia for the future, but something we are experiencing before our eyes.

The ecclesial movements are in the vanguard of evangelization, in the works of charity, in addition to animating a wide range of activities.

These movements give Christians a new motivation and enable them to rediscover the beauty of Christian life and, consequently, dispose them to take on tasks of evangelization, of pastoral animation of the Church.

Q: Briefly, how did you come to the Renewal?

Father Cantalamessa: I did not come to it. Someone took me to it. When I prayed with the psalms, they seemed written for me from before. Then, when from Convent Station in New Jersey, I went to the monastery of the Capuchins in Washington, I felt attracted to the Church as by a magnet and this was a discovery of prayer -- and it was a Trinitarian prayer.

The Father seemed impatient to speak to me of Jesus and Jesus wanted to reveal the Father to me. I think the Lord made me accept, after much resistance, the effusion, the baptism in the Spirit, and then many things happened over time.

Q: Given the many and diverse ecclesial movements, what is the special contribution that Catholic Charismatic Renewal can make to the Church?

Father Cantalamessa: In a certain sense, they are very humble and discreet. We have no power, or great structures or founders, but Catholic Charismatic Renewal is the movement that, for example, among all the ecclesial movements, is the most interested in theology. In Charismatic Renewal there is, in fact, a question on the Holy Spirit.

In fact, all the important treatises of theologians on the Holy Spirit speak of the Renewal because it is not simply one more spirituality among others, but it is a new rising of an original Christianity which was that of the apostles.

And I think that its objective is not so much to relate to a particular sector as it to animate the Church. The Renewal should not lead to the establishment of groups, churches. How terrible it would be if it was so! It should be, as Cardinal Leo Jozef Suenens said, a current of grace that is lost in the mass of the Church.