|Saint Charles Borromeo Church|
The power of Charismatic prayer
BY LAURA KILGUS, Staff Reporter
PROVIDENCE — When he was 18, Deacon Jose Rico was “searching for God.” After attending a Life in the Spirit seminar, an introduction to take the steps toward a personal encounter with Jesus, he became enlightened as to what it meant to be a Charismatic Catholic during an evening of dynamic praise and worship.“That night, for the first time, it all came to life,” he said. “I knew in that moment, that God loved me so much. It was the release of the Holy Spirit. I couldn’t stop crying and my heart was pumping fast. The Charismatic renewal is mainly people who have had this experience, but it can happen anywhere. It is an experience that gives them life. It is like a magnet drawing you to the richness of the church.”
St. Charles Borromeo Church in Providence is often referred to in the Diocese of Providence as a Charismatic parish where the Charismatic style of prayer is common. Many parishioners are expressive in their worship and are free to raise their hands in prayer during songs, pray their own prayers audibly, and pray in tongues.
“We are sentimental people,” said Deacon Rico, who works full-time as the parish Hispanic pastoral assistant. “We like to experience these feelings and emotion and a lively Liturgy brings that out.”
The deacon explained that Catholics from across the Ocean State visit St. Charles because of the attraction of the Charismatic atmosphere.
“People come in and say that there is something here that is different to them,” said Deacon Rico. “It’s the spirituality that you can’t really describe, but you can experience it. It is an experience with God.”
Ed Sousa said, “What I like about the Charismatic Mass is that it is so full of joy and praise to Our Lord, and the Mass comes alive.”.
St. Charles Borromeo Church also offers weekly Charismatic Prayer Meetings in which Catholics gather to give thanks and praise God. Father Jaime Garcia, parish administrator of St. Charles Borromeo, said that close to 300 people attend the Tuesday evening meetings.
“We praise Jesus, pray together, pray scripture, give a teaching, and give thanks to the Lord,” he said. “Every night is different but that’s the structure.”
Father Garcia explained that a Charismatic Prayer Meeting cannot be compared to a Eucharistic celebration and that the Mass celebrated at St. Charles Borromeo is the same Mass that is celebrated everywhere.
“It is a little more lively, we just let the Spirit flow,” said Father Garcia. “We don’t invite people to come to Charismatic Mass, we invite them to come to Mass.”
Charismatic prayer is a vehicle of communicating with God and the Holy Spirit. Deacon Rico explained that Catholics should pray as they feel comfortable, but also respecting others and keep open to the Holy Spirit.
A significant number of younger Catholics are drawn to the vibrancy of charismatic prayer, said Deacon Rico. Recently, thousands of teenagers gathered at the University of Rhode Island to attend the Steubenville East youth conference hosted by Life Teen.
During a weekend that celebrates the Catholic faith and the power of the Holy Spirit, attendees explained it is not uncommon to see teenagers shouting in praise, lifting their hands and clapping to the rhythm of dynamic worship music.
Adelle Tetreault, 17, of Narragansett, said that her experience was special because she was able to share it with such a large number of other teenagers who wanted to come together to glorify God.
“I knew this was going to be a Mass unlike any other Mass I had ever experienced,” she explained. “I think one of the aspects of the Masses at Steubenville East that attracts young people would have to be the music played because it is songs that we have heard and know the words to.”
Kathryn Robenhymer, a parishioner of St. Thomas More Church, in Narragansett recently returned from her third Steubenville East conference.
“I felt like the Mass was directed toward me,” she said. “I think the upbeat music and charisma of the Mass allows high schoolers to engage in and relate to the Mass in a special way.”
Robenhymer added that the lively liturgy directed toward teenagers attracts young people to the church.
“Being able to celebrate the Mass and share the love of Christ with other high schoolers, who are at the same point in life as me and that I can relate to, is an incredible experience,” she said.
In his address to participants in a meeting by the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant in October 2008, Pope Benedict XVI said that it is important to “safeguard the Catholic identity of Charismatic Communities and to encourage them to maintain a strict bond with the Bishops and with the Roman Pontiff.”
Father Garcia emphasized that his parish is committed to living the faith and the lifting up of the Catholic Church.
“We are very faithful to our Catholic teachings and we teach that in our charismatic church,” he said. “We are very Eucharistic centered and have had perpetual adoration since 1986. We are very supportive of the pope and our bishops and always support the teachings of the faith.”
Deacon Rico said that many people have different ideas of what it means to be a charismatic Catholic and those ideas often get misguided.
“One of the things that people get shocked about is the speaking in tongues, the raising of hands and clapping,” he said. “It was something I never saw. When I had gone to Mass before it was always quiet. We came in quietly and left quietly. But, the Holy Spirit has been renewing his church throughout the ages. It’s part of the church history.”
Deacon Rico added that faith is contagious because the Holy Spirit works within all of us.
* “The real charismatic experience is when your Catholic faith comes alive.”
The Catholic Charismatic Renewal http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-QDOcDGDWA
English Charismatic Body of Christ Meeting every Thursday evening starting at 7:00 p.m. at Saint Charles Borromeo Church, 178 Dexter Street, Providence, R.I. Phone-401-421-6441
LIFE IN THE SPIRIT SEMINARS are also available to anyone who wishes to attend. All are invited to come and join us for an evening of prayer, witnessing and healing, beginning with the celebration of the Holy Mass.