I see that my post below has caused some controversy. First of all, I believe supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit are for today and not just for the time of the first Apostles. Secondly, I believe there is a lot of craziness out there and credulousness and a huge need for cultivating the seemingly rare gift of discerning spirits. Thirdly, I hope there will be no fear of real supernatural spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Ordinariates and that they will be encouraged and we will have leaders who can help us to "stir up the gifts" and use them in the building up of the Body of Christ.
I would not be on the threshold of the Catholic Church had it not been for the teaching almost 15 years ago I received from a charismatic pastor from Upper New York State, who met Jesus through reading David Wilkinson's The Cross and the Switchblade, and then became involved in a wave of charismatic renewal in the 1980s. His name is Penn Clark, and while he has had little formal education, it is quite amazing and beautiful what the Holy Spirit can do with a man who fervently pores over the Bible in prayer and earnestly desires to obey God. Interestingly, a lot of his teaching is meant to correct the excesses and extremes he has encountered in the charismatic world. He stresses the importance of testing the spirits, discernment, and of everything being done decently and in good order.
He has intuited by the grace of God many things that he preaches with authority. What authority Father L R might ask? Well, there is a kind of authority that makes your heart burn within you, that doesn't come from academic degrees or even ordination within the Catholic Church, that comes because someone is speaking in the Name of the Lord (in his character) and exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit.
Penn Clark's teaching on headship and how God works through hierarchy and his teaching on how grace is imparted through the laying on of hands — things he has intuited because the Holy Spirit has taught him — were what prepared my heart to accept such things as Apostolic Succession. He has a charism of love about him. He does not shout. He does not do loud, emotional things to put people into trances or hypnotize them. He is a quiet man, but a riveting speaker because of the time he spends in prayer. Here is a link to the three talks he gave at our cathedral in Ottawa last fall at a wonderful ecumenical gathering of the best kind that included Catholics, Pentecostals and Evangelicals as well as members of our parish. The pictures show Penn teaching at our event.
While I disagree with him about the nature of Communion, about the ministry of Peter, and a number of other things, I have no doubt that he is a servant of Jesus Christ. By their fruits you shall know them.
The Catholic Church has many people who have similar charisms AND the grounding in the Church's teaching authority. But alas, some priests have been taught so much historical criticism that anything supernatural about the faith has been turned into a metaphor or psychological insight. Others have been so seduced by liberation theology — that the supernatural has been replaced by social work and social justice. We see this even more so in the Anglican Communion, where the Millennium Development Goals seem to have replaced the Gospel. When the Faith gets watered down by modernism or Marxism, no wonder people are hungry for Jesus and the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Yes, some of the alternatives are abominable health and wealth, name it and claim it travesties, sheer counterfeits and heresies. But some people are ministering and bringing people to know Jesus, healing the sick, casting out demons, doing what the disciples did from the very beginning. What could possibly be wrong with that? Let's let everyone know they don't have to leave the Catholic Church to find everything God has for them — supernatural and grounded in the faith of the Apostles.
Here's the Scripture that speaks to me about where the ability to discern true authority comes from.
If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or [whether] I speak of myself. (John 7:17)
Of course, now that I am entering the Catholic Church I will be relying more on the Magisterium than my inner knowing or inner assent or whatever you want to call it. But listening to those promptings hase brought me to this point where I receive the Magisterium as my authority, because I know in my heart of hearts that's what God wants. What a happy place this is to be. I could not have taken someone else's word for it. I had to discover this, bit by bit, for myself.
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