History of the Catholic Charismatic Movement

Charistmatic Movement | Catholic Faith Store

The Catholic Church encourages us to build a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and live out the gifts of the Holy Spirit through a spiritual movement known as the Charismatic Movement. When the Holy Spirit came to the disciples during Pentecost, he presented gifts that they could use for sharing the good news of salvation and building the Kingdom of God. These gifts include speaking in tongues and healing of the sick.

The Biblical Foundation of the Charismatic Movement

In about 33 AD, Jesus told his disciples to await the “promise of the Father” in Jerusalem. He also told them that they would be “baptized in the Holy Spirit.” The disciples then reverently prayed together for the next nine days.

On the ninth day, the Holy Spirit came to the disciples and gave them gifts that would help them live according to the teachings of Jesus Christ. These gifts would also help keep them steadfast in the midst of a hostile and sinful world.

Through the Holy Spirit, the Church has grown from a small and close-knit group of believers into the most influential and miraculous community in the world. Even until contemporary times, God continues to touch the hearts and souls of people through the work of His children.

The Charismatic Movement is one manifestation of this and a powerful means for the Catholic Church to keep the passion of the people alive.

19th Century

Pope Leo XIII

The charismatic renewal of the present day has roots in the 19th century. Between 1895 and 1903, Blessed Elena Guerra, the foundress of the Oblate sisters of the Holy Spirit in Italy, wrote 12 letters to Pope Leo XIII in which she asked him to encourage greater devotion to the Holy Spirit among Catholics.

As a response to her request, Pope Leo XIII published an encyclical about the Holy Spirit called Divinum Illud Munus in 1897. He also urged the Church to pray the Novena for Pentecost at the beginning of the new century.

A novena is a prayer said for nine days which recalls how the early Christians prayed for nine days between Christ’s Ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.

Early 20th Century

The 20th century was highlighted by a pentecostal revival shared within the protestant community. These events at the start of the charismatic renewal are important for uniting individual believers and the global church.

On January 1, 1901, Pope Leo XIII prayed to the Holy Spirit and sang the Veni Creator Spiritus by the Holy Spirit window in St. Peter’s Basilica. On the same day, at the Bethel College and Bible School in Kansas, the Holy Spirit came upon a group of Protestants who had been praying to receive the Holy Spirit just as the early disciples did. One of the students, Agnes Ozman, started speaking in tongues, a miraculous experience often considered the first of its kind at that time.

More and more people started welcoming the Holy Spirit to come to them through miracles, deliverance and gifts of evangelization. The shared experience of passion and love for God is at the core of the charismatic renewal and one significant way that bridged Catholics and Protestants together.

Mid to Late 20th Century

Pope John XXIII

The revival of the Pentecostal experience continued in the lives of many people for decades. Pope John Paul XXIII prayed for “a new Pentecost” in 1962 just as Pope Leo XIII prayed for a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit in 1901.

To prepare for the Second Vatican Council, Pope Leo XIII prayed for God to renew His wonders in the present day through a new Pentecost. The Second Vatican Council emphasized the importance of the “universal call to holiness” and Jesus’ call for every Christian to live “to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity.”

The Council also taught that it is Jesus who gives both the call and the ability to fulfill it because it is Jesus who "sent the Holy Spirit upon all men that He might move them inwardly to love God with their whole heart and their whole soul, with all their mind and all their strength and that they might love each other as Christ loves them."

In 1967, a group of Catholic students from Duquesne University came together for a retreat. Just as what happened to the disciples during the Pentecost, the group of students experienced a life-changing moment with the Holy Spirit. This miraculous event came to be known as Duquesne Weekend and became the start of the “new Pentecost” that Pope Leo XIII had been praying for.

Over the years the Holy Spirit continued to inspire the formation of new communities and movements. Many religious leaders from parishes to the Vatican started shepherding those who were touched by the renewal. One of them was Cardinal Suenens who helped spread and nurture the understanding of the Holy Spirit’s workings as well as the significance of the charismatic experience within the universal church.

An office for the Charismatic Renewal was established in 1978 as a response to the growing need for guidance that came with the rapid growth of the movement. It is known today as the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services or ICCRS and it is responsible for promoting a “culture of Pentecost” throughout the Church.

In 1997, the bishops of the United States issued a document about the charismatic renewal titled Grace for the New Springtime in support of the Charismatic Movement. The bishops looked at the renewal as a means of helping people respond to Jesus’ call for holiness. The movement has been a strong way of reaching out to people and helping them experience the power of God in their lives.

The Charismatic Movement Today

Charistmatic Movement | Catholic Faith Store

On June 1, 2014, Pope Francis attended the Catholic Charismatic Renewal conference in Rome, a gathering which drew about 50,000 people. He addressed the crowd and asked them to pray for him. The people responded using the gift of tongues. He then thanked the charismatics and told them he felt “at home” with them.

Today the Charismatic Movement has touched the lives of countless people across the world and across different religious denominations. As of 2013, the movement exists in more than 230 countries and has over 160 million members.

The Charismatic element of the Catholic Church manifests in the present day through healing services, evangelization and outreaches. In Catholic Charismatic gatherings, the Holy Spirit’s presence is felt through healings and miracles. Ultimately, the mission of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal is to make believers understand the totality of the declaration of the gospels which is possible through a deep, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Are you ready to welcome the Holy Spirit into your life?​

  • Michelle says:

    The whole “charismatic movement” is disturbing to me. It comes across as fanaticism.

    • Kristina says:

      I agree. Something just doesn’t sit right, especially the speaking in “tongues”. What tongues? No language on this earth. The Apostles’ were gifted the ability to speak, or be heard, in other earthly languages to spread the Word of God. What ever the gibberish is coming out of the charismatic movement, well, it isn’t right. Some argue it’s the language of the angels, but then I have to ask, to what purpose? No where in the history of the Catholic Church did our early Church Fathers promote this kind of thing.

      • John says:

        I found that the gift of tongues has and was always present in my spiritual journey.
        The first time I heard the gift of tongues I immediately recognised it and just fell to my knees and said the following.
        Lord my God never have I heard such wonderful voices singing a song of perfect praise just like the Angels.
        I want to be able to praise you like the Angels.
        Three weeks later as I was gardening at home and praying and giving thanks my song of praise changed and since then when in deep pray the gift of tongues abounds in me.
        It is as St Paul said prayers in tongues should only be used when there is one who can interpret, or it sounds like clanging bells and has no meaning.
        For this gift is for the edification of one’s soul and should not be spoken out loudly if there’s no one to interpret it.
        Yes it is in scripture, and it is mentioned by St Paul the Apostle.

        • Peggy says:

          You are, of course (I KNOW you know that) quite correct, but sometimes a bit of validation is welcome. You explain it very well, John.
          Thank you.

  • Dennis Hawkins says:

    I experienced the Holy Spirit while in prayer and was attending a meeting with Ian Mc-Cormack who was stung by box jelly fish and briefly died and saw Jesus in heaven. I was in the church of the methodists and was sat quietly when I felt the urge to get up and pray at the alter with others and we were all holding hands and other’s put their hands on people’s shoulders. I then felt the urge to touch Ian’s hand and held it while in prayer. I experienced a warm glow come through my body and when I left the church I felt as if my feet were light, and my hands were glowing and also felt I could heal with my hands. This carried on for the rest of the evening and I went to bed calm and knew the Lord had touch my very soul. So please do not be disheartened and encourage more prayer and ask the holy spirit to work in your churches. Praise and Glory be to our Lord Jesus.

  • Elizabeth Mastropole says:

    Through the grace of God, I have received many healings in my life from those filled with the Holy Spirit. The following are 3 specific ones. Healing of a slipped disc through the prayers of a Redemptionist Priest, Fr. Edward McDonough. Healing of a precancerous hyperplasia on the uterous by word of knowledge by a married catholic woman who had the stigmata, Bernadette Cyr and another word of knowledge by a catholic priest, Fr. Ralph Diorio I was healed of a neck & shoulder arthritis.

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