The Life in the Spirit Seminar – by Deacon Marty McIndoe
This year we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the birth of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church. Today there are over 160 million Catholics involved in the Renewal in over 230 countries. At the heart of the Charismatic Renewal is the Life in the Spirit Seminar. I would like to look at this great gift. But before I do this I would like to give a brief history of the renewal.
It is quite apparent that the early Church had the elements that are found in the Charismatic Renewal today. Many of our communities and our Saints also seemed to possess many of these same characteristics over the ages. However, by the modern age most of this seems to have gone dormant. At the beginning of the 1900’s something very special happened. It really seems to have started with a nun in Lucca, Italy, Elena Guerra (1835-1914), the founder of the Oblate Sisters of the Holy Spirit, whom Pope John XXIII was to beatify and give the title “Apostle of the Holy Spirit”in 1959.
Near the end of the 1800’s, Blessed Elena wrote 13 letters to Pope Leo XIII asking him to dedicate the new century, the 1900’s to the Holy Spirit. Pope Leo was very interested in doing everything he could to bring unity to the Church. He hoped to unite the Orthodox as well as Protestant sects and he saw the power that the Holy Spirit had in bringing forth unity. He was very open to Blessed Elena’s desire to bring the Holy Spirit out more in the Church. In 1895 he wrote an apostolic letter calling all the faithful to pray a special Novena to the Holy Spirit for Pentecost. In 1897 he wrote another letter, an encyclical on the Holy Spirit. The bishops all seemed to like these letters but didn’t act on them. Blessed Elena, in her sixth letter to Pope Leo said, “It is true that right after the publication of that encyclical, which I believe was dictated by the Holy Spirit, many bishops thanked Your Holiness. And this was good. But wouldn’t it have been better to obey?
Sister Elena and Pope Leo did not give up. Sister Elena asked that at the very beginning of the new century, Pope Leo dedicate the century to the Holy Spirit. On January 1, 1900 Pope Leo XIII ushered in the new century by solemnly invoking the Holy Spirit over all of Christendom. It should be noted that he included ALL of Christendom, not just the Catholic Church. He chanted the Veni Creator Spiritus. This new century was now begun with the Pope praying for the Holy Spirit to come on all Christians. Only a few hours after his prayers, a Methodist woman by the name of Agnes Ozman started speaking in tongues in Topeka, Kansas. This was seen as the beginning of the Pentecostal renewal in the Protestant Church. In the early 1900’s the Pentecostal Renewal flourished and grew. Today there are over 700 million Pentecostals. In 1962 Pope John XXIII opened the Vatican Council II invoking the Holy Spirit and using the phrase, “a new Pentecost”. Five years later the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church began when Catholic professors from Duquesne University went on a Cursillo in Pittsburg and started studying the Holy Spirit. A new Pentecost flowed among them and is still very active today. As the renewal began to grow, a Life in the Spirit Seminar was developed to help people be open to the Holy Spirit. I went through that Life in the Spirit Seminar in 1972 and it led me in to the Catholic Church. It helped me to discover the power of God’s Holy Spirit and the riches within the Catholic Church. I was welcomed in to the Church in 1973 and my life has been totally changed. I have seen so many gifts of the Holy Spirit made manifest through so many different people. I have seen so many miracles and lives changed to follow Jesus. I strongly believe in the fruits that this Life in the Spirit Seminar brings forth.
Pope Francis seems to also believe in the fruits of this seminar. Addressing a worldwide retreat for clergy at St John Lateran Church in Rome, the Pope reminded his audience of priests and bishops from 90 countries that they were dispensers of grace, and could never love or forgive too much. “Speaking of dispensers of grace, I ask each and all of you that as part of the current of grace of Charismatic Renewal you organize seminars of Life in the Spirit in your parishes and seminaries, schools, in neighborhoods, to share Baptism in the Spirit,” said Francis. “It is catechesis. It is catechesis that produces, by the work of the Holy Spirit, the personal encounter with Jesus who changes our life. (from Goodnews Magazine, ccr.org.uk and catholicnews.org.uk).
The Life in the Spirit Seminar has several forms and can be done over several weeks, or one weekend. It usually consists of seven talks. Here are the normal titles used for each seminar talk:
1 – The Explanation Talk
2 – The Sign up Session
3 – Seminar 1: God’s Love
4 – Seminar 2: Salvation
5 – Seminar 3: The New Life
6 – Seminar 4: Receiving God’s Gift
7 – Seminar 5: Praying for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit
8 – Seminar 6: Growth
9 – Seminar 7: Transformation in Christ
10 – Continue in a Charismatic Prayer Meeting
I would highly recommend that if you haven’t already done a Life in the Spirit Seminar, or even if you did one many years ago, search your parish or local parishes for one and attend it regularly. I think you will be glad you did. Please, if you are Catholic; choose one given in a Catholic Church. It is designed especially for you and makes references to our Sacramental life.
For more information on being baptized in the spirit, click on this link which brings you to an earlier article I wrote: What is the Big Deal About the Holy Spirit
For more information on the 50th Anniversary Jubilee Conference in Pittsburg click here: Charismatic Jubilee