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15 May 2016
posted by Canon Dakin on 06-06-2016

The Acts of the Apostles might be called the Book of the Holy Spirit.

Our Lord himself made it clear that after he had left them the Apostles were to spend a quiet time together and as they looked back and reinterpreted in the light of the resurrection all that he had taught, the Holy Spirt would guide them towards the truth. The Councils of the Church have confirmed our belief that those original insights of the apostles will never be lost.

We have been reading at Masses during the week of St Paul’s third missionary journey round the Eastern Mediterranean.  He makes it clear that his every move is guided by the Holy Spirit. He came to Ephesus and found some believers had not been baptised and the moment he laid hands on them the Holy Spirit came down upon them and they began to speak in tongues and to prophesy. Those manifestations of the effects of baptism were perhaps a necessary back-up to the preaching of the Apostles in the days when Christianity was struggling to become established. They died out quite quickly until they were revived in the 20th cent. by Pentecostals in America.  In the 1950’s a Catholic Charismatic Movement began in Canadian and American universitieswhich spread to England in the sixties. It was a time, of course, when liturgy went into English which gave the charismatics greater scope to worship with enthusiasm.  They reckoned that the gifts of the Spirit, manifest in the early Church, would still be available now for those who showed they were ready to receive them.  They organised large gatherings in places like Walsingham where people spoke freely in tongues.  I know a priest who has this gift, So what is it?  It sounds like a language you don’t understand and he doesn’t understand it either. He explains it as a succession of speech sounds which come out as a form of song in praise of God.  There were two churches in the Preston area which became centres for the charismatics. Charismatic hymn books were published - Songs of the Spirit.  When people sang them they waved their arms and swayed like Gospel choirs on TV.  It fairly quickly went off the boil but simmers away gently in a few places. It suits a certain temperament but as St Paul teaches, the greatest charism or gift of the Spirit is charity, unselfish love. 

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