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Testimonies and reflections on Golden Jubilee by the major CCR protagonists worldwide

Gilberto Gomes Barbosa

I met the Charismatic Renewal, and I received the Baptism in the Spirit in 1985. For 50 years this chain of Grace has brought many fruits to the Church. I witnessed this Renewal, because it has completely changed my life, it changed my way of doing things, it changed my mind and my heart. I come from a traditional Catholic family, but we were not practitioners, with fourteen siblings, trained by our parents to study, work and have an honest living, but not through faith. After receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit, I became a man of faith, and I met Jesus Christ who is everything that I want to live. Me and my family now serve the Lord!

To Pope Francis we assure our prayers and at the same time, our fidelity to the mission we have entrusted to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. The grace of Baptism in the Holy Spirit should be experienced by everyone. As he said in his speech at the Olympic Stadium in Rome in June 2014; "do not deprive us of this grace".

Today for us the greatest challenge is to follow the final message of Jesus when, before he was arrested and dying on the cross, he said, "that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.." Jn 17,21. Not to live in unity is a scandal for new Christians, since Christ is one, and invites us to be One. The unity should be, however, not only among Christians but among all the currents of grace.

Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the Preacher to the Papal Household

An occasion to look back at the progress made, to give thanks to the Holy Trinity and humbly recognize all the deficiencies with which our sin has overshadowed the work of the Spirit: for me, this is the sense of the Jubilee of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal that we are preparing to celebrate in Rome. Praise, Thanks giving, Repentance. Even we "elders" of the Renewal full of amazement will say "to the people who come after us": "This is the work of the Lord; a wonder to our eyes" (Ps. 22,32; 118,23).

No one is unaware of the significance of the fact that Pope Francis has taken to heart this event, to personally follow the preparation and the conduction. If I had to answer to the question : what does the Pope expect from this Jubilee event? I would say this: that the Charismatic Renewal should not be satisfied in being a reality "in the" Church, but should try even more to be a reality "of the" Church, of all the Church. Contrary to what some feared at the beginning, the Renewal has remained deeply rooted in the Catholic Church and obedient to the hierarchy. This is not put into doubt by anyone. The danger is that both on one side and the other side -both on the part of the great Church and on the part of the Charismatic Renewal -one remains satisfied with this, that is a kind of peaceful coexistence and mutual recognition. It's from this impasse that Pope Francis, it seems to me, is trying to pull out the Church and the Charismatic Renewal. To support him in this project, it is necessary that we always speak less in terms of Charismatic Renewal and always more in terms of Church. The Renewal in the Spirit is a ‘Current of Grace’ destined to all the Church because in its essence it is nothing but a powerful manifestation of the Spirit of the Risen Christ for the believers of today; it is the answer to the prayer of St. John XXIII for a "New Pentecost". From here comes the exhortation that Pope Francis addresses to the Renewal, to share with the whole Church the grace of the Baptism in the Spirit and implicitly to the Church, not to be afraid to welcome this gift of the Spirit.

I don't feel like saying what the future prospects and challenges that await the Catholic Charismatic Renewal could be. Jesus says that the Holy Spirit is like the wind: We don't know where it comes from and where it is directed (John 3,8). That's how it's "unexpected" manifestation came about 50 years ago and that's how it's further development will be. We only know one thing about this with certainty: That He comes from Christ and takes us to Christ. The real challenge will be our capacity to "Let us be guided by the Spirit", and to be docile to His action, at the cost of dying to ourselves. Soon after receiving the Baptism in the Spirit, 40 years ago, one day I took a sheet of paper and a pen and wrote down some thoughts, of which at that moment I myself was surprised, as I had thought so little about them before. I will write it as it is printed in my book, "The Sober Intoxication of the Spirit", because I think they still have something to remind me and everyone, at the moment in which we celebrate 50 years of Life in the Renewal:

"The Father wishes to glorify His Son Jesus Christ on earth in a new way, with a new invention. The Holy Spirit is responsible for this glorification, because it is written : "He will glorify me and will take what is mine". A Christian life that is totally consecrated to God, without any founder, any rule, any new congregation. Founder: Jesus! Rule: the Gospel interpreted by the Holy Spirit! Congregation: the Church! Don't worry about tomorrow, Don't desire to do things that remain, Don't desire to create recognized organs that perpetrate with successors. Jesus is a founder who never dies, therefore He doesn't need any successor. You must let Him always do new things, even tomorrow. The Holy Spirit will be present even tomorrow in the Church!"

Johannes Fichtenbauer, president of the ENC (The European Network of Communities)

When I first heard about the invitation from Pope Francis to this Catholic Charismatic Jubilee I was thrilled at very moment. I was even more thrilled when it became clear that the Pope´s intention is for a strong ecumenical flavor of this event. For Francis this convocation is not a show of veterans. Much more he desires a fresh start into a new season for the Catholic Church and whole Body of Christ. I am excited that the Pope wants to reawaken in all of us the instinct for the original intentions of the Holy Spirit when this Tsunami of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit began for the Catholics in 1967.

Just a few weeks ago, in February 2017, around the anniversary of the Duquesne-weekend where everything began, I read through again the book with the testimony of Patty Mansfield. Being reminded of the early beginnings I was deeply touched. And I had to weep. What an investment of God. How much have we lost over the decades? A longing for the first love filled me. I felt a fire burning inside for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit over all of us who have been faithful over those last 50 years. But now we desire to be rekindled and to experience the double blessing.

The Golden Jubilee is a chance for the movement and in a sense for the whole Church to correct some of the mistakes we made over these five decades. This correction will be at the same time the direction into the future. There have been several basic intentions of the Holy Spirit right there at the beginning in 1967 we have to reorient ourselves to.

One was the end of Catholic triumphalism just by the fact that we Catholics needed the help of Protestants and Pentecostals to come this deep in the encounter with God. That does not mean that the world has not a great need for our Catholic input. But the need is for a humble Church which shares her gifts in a spirit of humility. We should never forget - we are a part, but not the whole.

Connected with this is the ecumenical dimension of the Charismatic grace. God always meant this current of grace to be a spiritual foundation for the upcoming unity of all parts of the Body. This particular experience of God´s Spirit we should have in common with all the others we are ecclesiological separated off. We almost lost this element over the course of the last 50 years. But fortunately there had been “prophets” and apostolic leaders within the CCR to remind us back to this foundational ecumenical element.

In the beginning we saw clearly the need of a spiritual home for everyone to be supported in this new life according to committed relationships and biblical standards. The grace of God to provide for these nurturing places was multifold. We saw the growth of various forms of “charismatic power plants”, smaller ones and bigger. There were prayer groups, charismatic parishes, retreat houses, ecumenical covenant communities, community networks, prayer houses, centers for evangelization, and new religious orders with celibate and married members. 10 years after the start we began with tensions between the different directions in the movement. Accusation against each other demolished the beautiful and colorful expressions. Unity in diversity was forgotten for the price of pride and perfectionism. For almost 40 years we have walked too often separately and not side by side. The Jubilee is a great chance to present the CCR before the Holy Spirit again, saying: Lord! We are ready for a new season of mutual respect, support and common mission. This is the end of rivalry games. Every part of the CCR is now willing to add to the common cause what they are in their best.

I pray for a new level of spiritual power. Many of us have experienced the charismatic gifts as a personal delight. Too many have even forgotten to use the charisms later on. In the new season the Holy Spirit wants us to experience a multiplication of our gifts both in power and in depth. Besides the individual charisms he wants us to see an even more explicit gifting with the five-fold-ministry of strong lay leaders for the pastoral, the teaching, the evangelism, the prophetic and the apostolic ministry. And at the same time the Holy Spirit wants us not any longer serving separately but pulling together the gifts we have received freely to be more effective in their combination. Again here the Holy Spirit forces us to humility instead of lonesome ministry performance.

More than before we need to understand that these gifts of the Spirit are for to build the Kingdom within this world. This means very concrete forms of exercising our supernatural equipment by serving the structures of this world in politics, economy and all other areas of engagement for a better society. We will not save the world. But we have to testify to the power of the Cross by changing evil into experiences of restauration and salvation. I believe all of this is meant to prepare the CCR and through it the whole Church for the Second Coming of Jesus. There are so many signs both in the spiritual as well as in the secular world indicating that the coming of the Messiah is near. The growth of the Messianic Jewish Movement is only one of them, but a significant one.