Author: Ruth C.
I was raised a Protestant – charismatic non-denominational. My parents were among the founding members of the New Life Church. But, over the years, I went in and out of churches, trying different denominations. But something was always missing. I was thinking –just give me Jesus. I don’t need all the other fluff. I knew that my relationship with Him did not depend on how big is the meeting, how expensive is the equipment, or how many flashing lights you have.
Unlike at New Life, I found the simplicity of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in power at the Catholic Church. The Holy Spirit is present when He is invited and not put in a box. That’s when our encounter becomes miraculous. That’s when hearts change…
I was mentored and loved by the praise and worship group at the Church of Holy Apostles for 7 years. They walked the journey with me, helping me sort out the closet. We all have a spiritual closet where we store the good, the bad, and the ugly. My closet had a lot of ugly, but I did not want to talk about it or even look at it for years. But, eventually, stuff is going to fall out of a closet. For me, when it started to fall out, I became worried. But instead of running away from it, my new Catholic friends walked with me, loved me, and prayed with me. It became very clear that Jesus is here. His love is here.
I didn’t use to feel safe enough to be truly myself. I had to put on a smile and act like everything was OK, even when it wasn’t OK. I used to feel like a broken, failed Christian, not knowing what my identity was. But I was truly touched by the prophetic Word of God proclaimed by the Catholic Charismatic community, like that about the River of God flowing from the Throne of God into the city and out, based on the book of Revelation. That river delivers healing to the nations, and even flows right here, providing safety. God’s river is the safe place for us to be cleansed, healed, and made whole. Wow. It touched me deeply to hear that I was safe in God’s house. I never forget just sitting there in front of the church afterwards, sobbing and sobbing. But, only when you let down your guard, the healing can happen. God is not going to act unless you allow him to do so.
Before the change in the heart begins to take shape, Jesus must be glorified - in the simplicity of the message of the cross, with gratefulness for what Jesus has done for each and every person. Jesus loves and has a plan for everyone. And it doesn’t matter if you feel like you may fail in your walk with Him. Failure is the biggest lie that the enemy can use against us “oh, you failed again, you aren’t good enough, go away. You’ve got to be perfect to be used for the purposes of Jesus!” That’s the biggest lie ever. We can repent and turn back to Love Himself.
In this Catholic Charismatic community, you’ve got young people and seniors, new people mixed with people who are seasoned in the Spirit. The group is so open. It has welcomed my questions. “Let’s discern it with you and find out,” they’d say. And so we’d pray together, leap together, cry together. Step by step, this Praise and Worship group has turned me into a Catholic convert.
When I was finally ready to go through the RCIA process, I had an entire community with me in the congregation; loving me, backing me, praying for me, affirming my Catholic faith. It was amazing. I was overwhelmed with understanding of the meaning of the Family of God. This is what the Lord intended it to be like! I even came to love the smells and the bells in this Church. There is always sweetness in the sanctuary. When we kneel and bow to the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, I truly love perceiving the Lord coming here, to me and so many others - we are meeting God literally in the Eucharist. How amazing is THAT! And how on earth did I make it for 28 years of knowing who He was, but never partaking of his Body and Blood! It always baffles me how Jesus brought me here so I could be closer to Him.
I never before knew the power of the bread and wine as the body and blood of Christ. I just thought that Catholics were kind of weird, and I didn’t think they really get it. But when I came in here, it was literally like the Spirit of God slapped me in the face the way only He can – “I’ve proved you wrong, Ruth. I am dwelling here, and you found me here.”
It’s not that the Spirit of God is not welcome in other churches, but it seemed like there had to be a certain set of criteria – the preaching and music had to be right on, and everything had to be perfect. But when you find the power of the Holy Spirit within the sacraments that Jesus himself instituted, you become unstoppable! When I receive communion, I am filled with love and courage – “yes, I can do this!”
I’m not saying that everything is easy now. And, indeed, I am at times called by the Holy Spirit to obedience but respond with resentment at first, thinking “there is no way you are calling me to do this now…” But I no longer avoid the these situations nor turn the other way. When you have this loving community around you, things change and following Jesus becomes easier. Here, you are encouraged to grow and to step outside yourself into something that’s so much better.
Catholic Charismatic Renewal - Diocese of Colorado Springs
Deacon Chuck Matzker
Bishop Sheridan's Liaison to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal