Friday, March 4, 2011

The Charismatic Gifts

It has been my experience over the years that many people upon entering Carmel expect at some point to partake of the charismatic gifts as did Our Holy Mother St. Teresa and Our Holy Father St. John of the Cross. Although St. Teresa and St. John experienced such phenomena, they warned against seeking out extraordinary experiences and maintained that holiness is not necessarily found in such manifestations but in prayer and good works; in living the virtues of faith, hope and charity. Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. distills the teachings of both saints in regard to the charismatic gifts in his spiritual classic Divine Intimacy, as follows:
The Apostle [St. Paul in I Cor. 12:2-11] mentions charismatic gifts, that is, those special graces, such as the gift of tongues, of knowledge, of miracles, bestowed by the Holy Spirit with great generosity upon the primitive Church. Although they are very precious gifts, they are inferior to sanctifying grace and charity, which alone give supernatural life to the soul. Whereas charismatic gifts may or may not accompany sanctifying grace, they neither increase nor decrease its intensity thereby. St. Thomas notes that while grace and charity sanctify the soul and unite it to God, these miraculous gifts, in the contrary, are ordered for the good of another and can subsist in one who is not in the state of grace....The smallest degree of [grace and charity] is worth more than all the extraordinary gifts which, although they can dispose souls to good, can neither infuse nor increase divine life in us. ~Divine Intimacy, pp.777-778

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