Describing God’s activity is a hard thing to do. The grace of God through the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) has impacted the lives of millions of people throughout the world over the past 50 years, and every individual would express that experience in her or his own unique way.

One description of CCR is:

A personal experience of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, who brings alive in new ways the graces of our baptism. The Holy Spirit not only sets on fire all that we have already received, but comes again in power to equip us with his gifts for service and mission.

Unpacking this description, we can see that CCR is:

A personal experience: CCR is something that transforms the relationship between an individual and God

  • About the presence and power of the Holy Spirit: although it’s deeply personal, CCR isn’t focused on us – it’s an action of God the Holy Spirit
  • Reviving the graces of our baptism: this new action of the Holy Spirit stirs up the graces which have already been given to us as Catholics and Christians
  • A new opportunity for the Spirit to come again: when we open ourselves to the action of the Holy Spirit, we also invite him to pour new graces into our lives
  • Not something to be kept for ourselves, but for service and mission: this renewing experience of the Holy Spirit should change the way we live our lives.

What became known as Catholic Charismatic Renewal began nearly 50 years ago. Since that time, over a hundred million Catholics worldwide would highlight a renewed experience of their faith in the context of the CCR.

At its core, the experience of all of these people would be that they recognised their own inability to lead a full and fired-up Christian life by their own efforts, and invited the Holy Spirit to do it on their behalf! At that moment (in technical language), CCR would say they experienced the ‘Baptism in the Holy Spirit’.

This ‘Baptism in the Holy Spirit’ is not a one-off moment. Like leaking buckets, we constantly need to be re-filled, and remain open to the water of the Spirit. This disposition can be described as living ‘Life in the Spirit’.

This new ‘Life in the Spirit’ should be characterised by a stronger commitment to service and mission. One of the unique dimensions of the CCR is an openness and desire to share the ‘gifts of the Spirit’, which are described in the New Testament Letters, and which include (but aren’t only) the ‘charismatic gifts’.