This week, Melbourne’s Catholic Charismatic Renewal branch has hosted ‘A Current of Grace’, a conference exploring the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit.
Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR), a spiritual movement that emphasises the joys fostering a personal relationship with God through embracing the Holy Spirit, is a global association and maintains an office in the Vatican.
Jim Murphy, President of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal, met with Melbourne Catholic
this week to discuss the role of CCR in Melbourne and how the current of grace
is pulling people closer to God in Melbourne, throughout Oceania and beyond.
Jim explains, simply and directly, that the Holy Spirit is working through Charismatic Renewal ‘to make Catholics even better Catholics’.
‘I find that the Catholics who have experienced Charismatic Renewal are much more attentive to the sacraments, have a deeper appreciation for the word of God and are more committed to service,’ he says.
As Charismatic Renewal continues to influence Catholics across the world, Jim says the Holy Spirit manifests itself within culture and context, reaching people to enhance and augment rather than dramatically transform individuals.
‘I’m always amazed by how God works and meets us where we are, making us the best version of who we can be. You are more authentically you with the Holy Spirit. It changes you at the core of your personhood,’ says Jim.
‘There’s a great mystery in God and humanity. God is God but he always works in the context of culture. You take a Charismatic Catholic from Australia, one from Ghana and one from Canada and they’ll all be touched by the Holy Spirit but in different ways.
‘It's remarkable how universal the activity of the spirit and I'm constantly moved by how God works in each person individually. The spirit can take a person and makes them a more authentic person, or a make a child a purer child. The spirit doesn’t come to take us and turn into something different, it has a humility, it takes us and makes us more authentic versions of ourselves,’ adds Jim.
However, while Jim describes that accepting the Holy Spirit into one’s life can lead to a more fulfilling relationship with God, he concedes that embracing change and receiving the spirit can be challenging.
‘The idea of abandoning yourself to God is confronting,’ he says, before explaining, ‘God is saying to us “can you trust me, take one step towards me?”
‘God is not going to force you. If you choose to stay at an arm’s length from God, he’ll honour your request but he’s begging and imploring you to come closer to him.
‘I think for most of us, life is incremental while we can’t let go of it all, we can let go of a little and gradually take steps forward.’
As Charismatic Renewal strives to encourage Catholics to incorporate the Holy Spirit into their daily lives, it is faced with a familiar challenge to that of the broader Church community in Melbourne; attracting younger generations.
‘Melbourne, like many other areas, is trying new things to bring people in and some things work and some don’t,’ Jim says pragmatically.
‘Melbourne is doing some really creative things. Recently, they set up at a New Age festival and offered Christian prayer. They’re not changing who they are, simply being available to pray with people. I think that’s really creative. They’re Catholics administering as Catholics and I think that’s brilliant.
‘We have some real stability and horsepower in this city. I think they’re great, I really do,’ adds Jim. To hear more from Jim on Charismatic Renewal, get your hands on a copy of the next edition of Melbourne Catholic where our conversation with Jim goes deeper into the inner workings of the Vatican, the challenges confronting Charismatic Renewal and the uniqueness of the Holy Spirit.