At baptism every Christian is given their own charisms by God to help them live out their mission in the world, but most Catholics don’t know what a charism is, much less how to discern what theirs is and use it, says Sherry Weddell.
The author, co-founder and executive director of the US-based Catherine of Siena Institute is dedicated to helping people explore the power of the Holy Spirit working in their lives and renewing the church for mission.
While there is no definitive list of charisms, her institute helps people to discern more than 20 of the most common of these personal spiritual gifts, including healing and prophecy, encouragement, mercy, administration and hospitality.
“These gifts grow along with our relationship with God, they empower us to build up the church, to be instruments of God’s healing and transformation at many different levels,” Ms Weddell told parish leaders, teachers, catechists and young adults at Liverpool Catholic Club on 22 May.
“A genuine charism comes with a call from God that goes with it, that will make us restless if we don’t answer the call.
“This is church teaching but most people don’t know about it.”
The author of Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus, was in Sydney at the invitation of the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation to speak at two events at Liverpool and Strathfield.
She explained that at some time after initial conversion in a person’s life as they grow into a commitment to Christ and discipleship, charisms begins to manifest and bear fruit, but it requires ongoing prayer and discernment.
One of the signs that a person is living out their supernatural charisms, rather than their natural gifts, talents and abilities, is that exercising a charism is “a remedy for cynicism and burnout”.
“When exercising one’s charism, whether it is when you are making music, praying for somebody, showing hospitality, or whatever their charism is, people say it is typically energising, satisfying, joyful, or feels like prayer or contemplation.
“People say they sense the presence of God when they do this thing that they do for others. One of the great fosters of hope and trust in God is seeing him work through you and your charisms.”
While some charisms like healing and prophecy sound more unusual than others such as administration and teaching, all restore trust in God, remove impediments to faith, bring healing to others and make Christ present to them “in real and compelling ways”, Ms Weddell said.
Following the presentation, Honi Lattouf, from Christ the Redeemer Maronite parish in Dural told The Catholic Weekly that her parish was already investing in learning about charisms and how to help people to discern their spiritual gifts.
“It’s been wonderful in the deepening of our spiritual life, just to know that there’s so much more accessibility to the Holy Spirit and the power he gives us to help others,” she said.
“In our parish we’re seeing it’s transforming lives in many ways. People who have been coming to Mass their whole lives are now being touched the Holy Spirit and enlivened in their faith and finding deep personal healing.”
The Catherine of Siena Institute will run the Called and Gifted charisms discernment process for a limited number of clergy, religious and lay people for the Archdiocese of Sydney, beginning in August with online workshops.
For information visit gomakedisciples.org.au/called-gifted-discernment-process