EG 130: Charisms at the Service of Evangelization

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdaleneTwo sections bear the title, “Charisms at the service of a communion which evangelizes.”

It is important to distinguish between charisms and gifts and natural abilities. All have a source in God. Natural abilities are how we are guided by biology. Hand-eye coordination is an ability which might separate out the better athletes among us. Gifts are what we use for our own lives: an ability to cook, to play games, to be a good listener.

When we speak of charisms, we speak of God-given aspects that are not for our own use, but for the benefit of building up the Body of Christ. Hand-eye coordination, for example, might help us read music and coordinate our hands. A gift for music might mean we learn instruments and repertoire more readily. But music is only a charism when it is employed for spreading and proclaiming the Gospel. There are many fine musicians who lack the charism. There are many lesser musicians who have it. Skill, talent, natural ability is not the decider. As Pope Francis writes here, authentic charisms are integrated into the life of the faith community:

130. The Holy Spirit also enriches the entire evangelizing Church with different charisms. These gifts are meant to renew and build up the Church.[Lumen Gentium 12] They are not an inheritance, safely secured and entrusted to a small group for safekeeping; rather they are gifts of the Spirit integrated into the body of the Church, drawn to the centre which is Christ and then channelled into an evangelizing impulse. A sure sign of the authenticity of a charism is its ecclesial character, its ability to be integrated harmoniously into the life of God’s holy and faithful people for the good of all. Something truly new brought about by the Spirit need not overshadow other gifts and spiritualities in making itself felt. To the extent that a charism is better directed to the heart of the Gospel, its exercise will be more ecclesial. It is in communion, even when this proves painful, that a charism is seen to be authentic and mysteriously fruitful. On the basis of her response to this challenge, the Church can be a model of peace in our world.

Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium is online here at the Vatican site.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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