Archbishop Kevin McDonald shares how Catholic Charismatic Renewal can help awaken a sleeping faith.
When we wake up in the morning we reconnect with reality – with our family, our friends, our work, our problems and our joys.
We all need to be awakened to the Lord. In recent times I have given several retreats to priests and deacons. What I often say to them is that a retreat is a kind of return. It is a return to that part of you where you connect with God. This is true of any kind of prayer and, of course, it is true most especially of going to Mass.
We need this experience of return and awakening because in our hearts and minds we wander away from Jesus Christ and our attention is focussed elsewhere. Our fears, fantasies and jealousies furnish us with other objects of attention that, though they may be compelling, are not life-giving.
In the summer my prayer life was greatly enhanced when I took delivery of an icon that was made for me by a monk who I ordained. Now when I go to prayer in the morning, I look into the eyes of Jesus, our Risen and Glorious Lord – my elder brother, my savior – and his gaze awakens me to Him.
Awake with the Gift of Tongues
The great spiritual revival in the US in the eighteenth century was referred to as The Great Awakening.
For me the Charismatic Renewal was and is an experience of awakening, and a particular focus of that awakening is the gift of tongues.
When we pray or sing in tongues we are moving out of the realm of ordinary converse and communication. We are not conscious of the meaning of our words but praying in tongues takes us out of ourselves and into engagement with Jesus. I always think that the scripture which best captures the significance of praying in tongues is Romans 8, 26-27: ”For when we cannot choose words order to pray properly, the Spirit himself expresses out pleas in a way that could never be put into words”
When we turn to the Lord in prayer we become awake to Him. We allow Him to enter our world and we come alive in his presence. The Charismatic Renewal is quite simply a grace for awakening.
Archbishop Kevin McDonald is liaison bishop for Catholic Charismatic Renewal in England and Wales.