Pentecostalism is the Catholic Church
Fr Ralph de Hahn, Cape Town – In his two articles on the Pentecostal movement sweeping the world (January 16 and 23), Prof Michael Ogunu gives us an excellent history of Pentecostalism.
What Prof Ogunu writes is true and much-appreciated, but in places inadequate.
He declares the “Charismatic Movement” began among Catholics in 1966, led by Catholic laymen, “at a Protestant Pentecostal gathering on January 13, 1967, they requested baptism of the Holy Spirit”—and then followed the speaking in tongues.
Now, that is not easy to digest. Firstly, Charismatic Renewal is a renewal only of the original Pentecostal spirit (Acts 1:8).
That was surely the beginning of the Catholic Pentecostal church, born of the Holy Spirit—begun with an explosive spiritual energy, as recorded in Acts 2—to be always a Pentecostal church, always Charismatic, always proclaiming Jesus as Lord in the Holy Spirit.
To see this shattering event only as an annual celebration is a grave misunderstanding. It is necessarily a daily, even hourly, experience—or else we are not God’s Church.
This amazing power is witnessed in the Catholic priesthood, the Eucharistic presence, the power of the proclaimed Word, all the sacraments and in our baptism by water, by blood, by fire, and by the Holy Spirit (Jn 19:33; Lk 3:16; Jn 1:33).
Without this extraordinary power from on high, the Catholic Church is simply an empty shell. And this applies also to Catholic Charismatic spirituality.
Secondly, it is wrong to name the Catholic Pentecostal spirit as a “movement”. It is not another devotion or society or attachment to the Catholic faith! It is the ongoing original Pentecost with all its charisma, with that undying power, that divine presence as promised. God did not withdraw his promise.
We have failed to recognise this truth. Possibly, the rich and all-powerful Church of those early years lost the sense of living that Pentecost; then the Protestant Churches felt the need for a new power to promote their cause, and they turned to the Scriptures, to Jesus as Lord and to the Holy Spirit: hence Pentecostalism!
That was the wake-up call to the Catholic Church: a renewal.
It is so important for our clergy to accept the charisma found among the laity and use it for the good of the community!
There is no need for so many Catholics to venture off seeking a truly Charismatic community outside the Church. The Catholic Church is the Pentecostal church of Jesus Christ.
Are we afraid to use that name and declare our true identity? If so, then we will fail miserably. But if we accept that challenge, and move in that direction to claim what is our right, then by God’s special grace, in the power of Jesus and his Holy Spirit “working within us, we will achieve infinitely more than we can possibly imagine”.