What are spiritual gifts? Do we still see in our era people practicing spiritual gifts that produce miracles? Some think so. When I visited Tenacious Poodle, I found a post that spoke of childhood experiences, A Catholic Flunky. As a child, the author of the Tenacious Poodle, Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt, attended a Catholic Church. Apparently, this particular church engaged in some practices referred to as Charismatic Renewal.
Charismatic Renewal is apparently a movement intended to revive the Pentecostal spirit of the early Christian Church. That is a good thing, but any good thing can be warped. Although we live in era when miracles are especially rare, we greedily yearn for them — especially those gifts that would allow us to perform miracles. So it is with some churchmen and their congregations. They read their Bibles, consider the miracles, and imagine the glory of performing miracles. Dreaming of great power, we can forget God performs each miracle. Even the greatest of the prophets merely spoke in His name.
However, I am drifting from my intended subject. Are the practices associated with Charismatic Renewal common in the Catholic Church? I do not know. It has been been decades since I regularly attended a Catholic Church. I am also no authority on Charismatic Renewal, and this is not a post about Charismatic Renewal. This post is just a response to A Catholic Flunky.
What is apparent from A Catholic Flunky is that the demand to manifest spiritual gifts soured Gotthardt on Christianity. She could not honestly manifest the spiritual gifts demanded of her. Since the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12), not the church, endows us with spiritual gifts, that is no surprise. So we should doubt the wisdom of church leaders who demand that their flock perform miracles on command. Consider the almost inevitable result. Instead strengthening her faith, the practices of Gotthardt’s church contributed to its decline.
Whether anyone can actually perform a miracle, I do not know. I am a thick headed scientist/engineer. Since I am well trained to look for “natural” causes, I doubt I would recognize a miracle if I saw one; I would be too busy looking for any other possible cause. Fortunately, I am also a former military officer and the son a crusty sergeant. I do know about obeying commands.
Miracles have little to do with what Jesus commanded us to do. When the Apostle Paul spoke of the spiritual gifts that might allow us to perform miracles, he did not speak too highly of them. Faith and Hope matter more. The gift mattered most? That is Love (1 Corinthians 13).
Jesus never commanded us to perform miracles. He commanded us to love God and each other. He said that if we love Him we would obey His commands. When we do as Jesus commanded — when we love God and each other — we have the gift that matters most. We are the children of God.