Wednesday 27 December 2023

Clothed with Power from On High - Bishop Scott McCaig CC - A Short Catechesis on Charisms in the Life and Mission of the Church

Clothed with Power from On High: 
A Short Catechesis on Charisms in the Life and Mission of the Church
ISBN 9781593257132
eISBN 9781593257149

I read this as part of Father Mark Goring’s Saint Mark’s School of Reading. I picked up the eBook to follow along, as a part time student. It was wonderful reading this with Father Mark’s weekly videos. The description of this book states:

“The Holy Spirit is on the move throughout the Church! In this ground-breaking new book, Bishop Scott McCaig brings much-needed clarity to the important topic of charisms in the life and mission of the Church. He reveals how charisms are part of God’s plan for the whole Church and for each and every Christian, and are the means by which we fulfill the great commission Jesus has given us. This short catechesis provides a rich guide for anyone desiring to understand or deepen their experience of God’s gifts.

“Bishop Scott McCaig has crafted a well-researched introduction to the Church’s teaching about charisms, their missional purpose, and their powerful impact. He addresses crucial the relationship between the charismatic and hierarchical dimensions of the Church, charisms and discipleship, and the role of every Christian in the essential task of discerning charisms.” 
—Sherry Weddell, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Catherine of Siena Institute.”

Some other praise it has received is:

“In this short catechesis, Bishop Scott has collected and synthesized the rich teaching of Scripture, the early Church Fathers, the Magisterium, the saints, and recent popes on the critically important but often misunderstood role that charisms are meant to play in the life of the Church. For anyone, whether clergy or laity, who is looking to lay hold of the Church’s fundamental teaching and pastoral understanding of the exercise of charisms, this short book is a good place to start.”
—Peter Herbeck, Vice President and Director of Missions, Renewal Ministries

“The whole Church needs more openness to the power and workings of the Holy Spirit. Bishop Scott McCaig’s book is an important contribution to preparing a way for this to happen. In a relatively short but comprehensive “catechism,” this book answers the questions that many people have about the meaning and exercise of charisms. May many benefit from its research and wisdom!”
—Ralph Martin, STD, Director of Graduate Theology Programs in the New 

Evangelization, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Archdiocese of Detroit
“If you want to experience your faith less like a syllogism and more like a love affair, read this short book on the charisms. God is on the move, and he’s inviting us to be part of something dangerous and beautiful.”
—Matt Fradd, Catholic apologist and host of Pints with Aquinas

“Bishop McCaig addresses with insight the challenges and opportunities of embracing one’s charisms. I recommend it highly to all who wish to understand or deepen their experience of God’s gifts.”
—Terrence Prendergast, SJ, Emeritus Archbishop of Ottawa-Cornwall

The chapters in this volume are:

Foreword by Dr. Mary Healy
What Is the Official Teaching of the Catholic Church about Charisms?
How Are Charisms Related to the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit?
Were the Charisms Only for the Early Church?
Does the Church Have Any Cautions about the Use of Charisms?
Can There Be Contradictions between the Institution of the Church and the Charisms?
Why Should We Discern Which Charisms the Holy Spirit Has Allotted to Us?

I highlighted numerous passages while reading this volume, some of them are:

“This subject is neither trivial nor of merely academic concern. We need to understand charisms because they are important in the life and mission of the Church. They are the action of the Holy Spirit, who is the very soul of the Church, and they are part of God’s plan for the whole Church and for each and every Christian. They manifest God’s providence, his specific call to each of us as individuals, and his passionate, all - embracing love for the whole world.”

“The Sacred Scriptures tell us a great deal about charisms. We find the New Testament’s teaching on charisms primarily in the letters of St. Paul, but also in the first letter of St. Peter, as well as in many other passages that refer indirectly to charisms. Although the Greek word charisma has the general meaning of” gratuitous gift,” in the Scriptures the word has a very particular meaning. In Scripture, charisms refer to specific gifts that the Spirit distributes to individuals (see 1 Corinthians 12 : 10).”

“To begin with, charisms do not flow from sanctifying grace (which is infused into the soul at Baptism), and as a result, they are unique. God gives them completely gratuitously — we cannot merit them. This means that growth in holiness does not produce them or demand them. Second, in every instance they require the direct intervention of God.”

“It is critical to understand that charisms only make sense — and only have benefit for someone — if they are integrated into a life immersed in God’s love through prayer, sacraments, and good works, “a life transfigured by God’s presence. ””

“Most scriptural references to charisms are from the New Testament because” although the phenomenon, if not the name, of charismatic gifts was evident in the Old Testament (e.g., in Moses, the Prophets), the full outpouring of the Spirit was reserved for messianic times (Ps 67 : 19 ; Eph 4.7 – 13).” It is also important to note that” none of these lists claims to be exhaustive.” The range of diversity of these special gifts allotted by the Holy Spirit may be immense. In fact, St. Irenaeus explains that it is impossible to number the charisms. One obvious example is the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals, which is given, under certain conditions, to the Church’s shepherds (see Catechism, 890 – 892).”

“It is important to note that while a few of the gifts are of an extraordinary nature, such as healing, deliverance, or prophecy, most charisms are seemingly very ordinary, such as hospitality, administration, or teaching. In God’s economy, each charism has its own place and importance.”

“God gives many gifts to strengthen us, equip us, and empower us for good works. The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit received in Baptism and strengthened in Confirmation (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord) are harmoniously related to the charisms, but these seven gifts and the charisms serve different purposes. The easiest way to understand the distinction is that” there are gifts of the Holy Spirit that we are given to keep and gifts we are given to give away. The traditional ‘seven gifts of the Holy Spirit ’ … are gifts given to us to keep.” Often referred to as the Isaiah gifts, they sustain an individual Christian in virtue and docility to the Holy Spirit.”

“Why Do We Receive Different Charisms ? Charisms are distributed to the faithful” for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12 : 7), and this is why different charisms are given to different Christians : each of the faithful has a different function or mission within the mystical body of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 12 : 19 - 20).”

“Charisms allow us to be channels of God’s loving power and to take on the mission of Christ in our own life, within our unique vocation and state of life. As the Catechism states ,” Grace also includes the gifts that the Spirit grants us to associate us with his work, to enable us to collaborate in the salvation of others and in the growth of the Body of Christ, the Church” (2003 ). The specific charisms the Spirit allots to a person reveal how God wants to use them to build up the Church and meet the needs of the world. This is precisely why it is important to understand which charisms God has bestowed on us.”

“The Holy Spirit’s distribution of charisms within the body of Christ also reveals the loving providence of God, for” wherever there is a particular need, he has already poured out the charisms that can meet it.” 36 When there is a need in the Church, particularly in the service of her mission, the Holy Spirit provides members of the Church with the charisms necessary to meet that need.”

“Pope St. John XXIII’s successors have often spoken of the authenticity of this effusion of gifts, the need for the charisms, and the need for radical openness to this move of the Holy Spirit in our time.”

“While the word “movement” is still often applied to this effusion of charisms in the Church, it is clearly used in a unique manner. It is a current of grace rather than a particular defined program, devotion, or community. Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap, emphasizes this important distinction simply and clearly: “The Charismatic Renewal is a current of grace that is necessary for the whole Catholic Church.””

“The first caution has to do with rashly desiring gifts. St. Paul tells us that we should” earnestly desire the greater gifts” (1 Corinthians 12 : 31), but to be rash is to act impetuously or without careful consideration of the possible consequences. As we have seen, the gift of a charism comes with a serious responsibility to use it with sacrificial love for others. Exercising charisms may at times require courage and may test one’s faith, stretch one’s love, and cause personal trials.”

“Charisms must also be exercised with trust and humble surrender: “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55 : 9). God’s will, not our own, must be our deepest desire.”

“But it must be exceedingly clear that” it is not the Spirit who is in service to the institution, but the institution that is in service to the Spirit.””

“It is a grave mistake to think that the gospel mission can advance without the dynamic working of the Holy Spirit in and through individual disciples of Jesus. Institutional planning, strategic thinking, and human efforts are critically necessary, but alone they are not enough. They must be informed by, and empowered by, the Holy Spirit. As Pope St. Paul VI reminded us.”

“It is imperative that we have expectant faith and responsive hearts because charisms” manifest the creativity of the Spirit and are given generously and often beyond all expectations.””

“Holy discontent and agitation for personal and institutional conversion is itself a work of the Holy Spirit.”

“Although new experiences of the Holy Spirit may be initially unfamiliar, authentic charisms of the Holy Spirit will always glorify God, uphold the dignity of persons, and build up the faith of unbelievers.”

“Discerning which charisms the Holy Spirit has given to a person is extremely important. It reveals a vital aspect of God’s plan for our life — namely, the mission to which God has called and equipped us.”

“If you know your gifts, it becomes easier to say” no” when people ask you for things that you don’t really have to give. And because it is unusually energizing and fulfilling to exercise a charism, you are much less likely to burn out if you are working in your area of giftedness.”

“Discerning a charism is best done with others and with the accompaniment of someone skilled in discerning charisms. Friends, fellow disciples, and qualified spiritual directors can tell us things we can’t see ourselves and help us recognize charisms that we would have missed. In particular, someone trained in discerning charisms can also help us see the difference between charisms, natural talents, and acquired skills, and understand how these work together for we know that grace builds on nature.”

“Generally speaking, however, the discovery of charisms comes after someone has experienced a spiritual awakening, whether through a Cursillo, spiritual retreat, Alpha Course, CCO Discovery Faith Study, Life in the Spirit Seminar, The Rescue Project, or the like — in other words, after a” personal Pentecost ,” wherein a person experiences the Holy Spirit in a new way. It is this experience, with the deeper personal commitment to the Faith and the new discovery of charisms, that launches them into mission. There is an important lesson here.”

“St. Augustine made a spirited defense of emotions and affections, and considered an insensitivity to the touch of emotion the worst of all vices. St. Thomas Aquinas taught that the more perfect a virtue is, the more passion it causes. As St. Philip Neri said so eloquently,” Let us aim for joy, rather than respectability. Let us make fools of ourselves from time to time, and thus see ourselves, for a moment, as the all - wise God sees us. ””

I hope those quotes give you a feel for this excellent little volume. This is one of those little gems you could return to time and time again, and always get something new or more out of the reading of it. It is a volume I know I have plans to return to. It is a volume that will bless, inspire and challenge the readers. I can easily recommend it to all Catholics. It was another great selection for the Father Mark Goring for his Saint Mark’s School of Reading It was wonderful to work through this book and follow along with the weekly videos. I can easily recommend this book. It is a great read!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan

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