Wed. Program: Spiritual Gifts

“Now in regard to spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be unaware. … There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; … To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit” —1 Cor 12:1,4-5, 7

After our Wednesday Night Supper—an amazing Middle Eastern meal prepared by Sam (junior)— David Mayeux presented on Spiritual Gifts as presented in Scripture and according to the teachings of the Church. Before we gathered, he shared with us links to an online Spiritual Gifts Assessment Tool, in order that the teachings and reflections might be personal.

The tool we used for our Spiritual Gifts Inventory can be done online here: http://www.elca.org/Our-Work/Congregations-and-Synods/Faith-Practices/Spiritual-Renewal/Assessment-Tools

Or, if you’re a more pen and paper person, you can print it off here: https://bpslayministry.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/spiritual-gifts-inventory-cleveland.pdf

The substance of his presentation is below:


Part of our life as Christians is the promise of Spiritual Gifts, or charisms, given to us by Christ in the Spirit. St Paul reflects on the spiritual gifts throughout his letters. One such spot is in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit; to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.

From this passage, we can discern several important points about spiritual gifts. First, that they are given; they are not natural (though our natural talents often play a huge part in these gifts), they are not earned; they are gratuitous gifts from God. Second, the gifts are particular to each person, and different persons will have different gifts. Third, they are given for “some benefit” or as it has it in the RSV “for the common good”: our gifts are meant to be used in service to others. Finally, because the gifts are distributed differently, and because they are to be used for the common good, this means that the very nature of the Spiritual Gifts creates in our community an interdependence, we must rely on other’s spiritual gifts for our own good, and we must use our gifts or others will not get what they need (this further point is spelled out more concretely in vv. 12-26 of 1 Cor 12).

Now it is important to distinguish the spiritual gifts, or charisms, from the Gifts of the Holy Spirit—wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord (see Isaiah 11:1-2)—for ALL the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to Christian to make them predisposed to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. The charisms, on the other hand, are particular talents distributed to individuals to build up the Body of Christ. They are at the service of the community, and not the individual.

This “inequality” of the distribution of the spiritual gifts is not always looked on kindly by the world, but the Church recognizes the reality that there ARE real differences “tied to age, physical abilities, intellectual or moral aptitudes, the benefits derived from social commerce, and the distribution of wealth. The ‘talents’ are not distributed equally.” (CCC 1936) Recognizing this does not condone systems of injustice in which those with some gifts use them to control others. Instead the differences should “encourage and often oblige persons to practice generosity, kindness, and sharing of goods.” Read rightly, this means that not only are those who receive the affects of the gift lifted up, but in the act of sharing a gift, the giver is also lifted up. ALL benefit from the distribution of charism and their use in charity.

During St Catherine of Sienna, in her mystical Dialogues with Christ, heard him say this on the distribution (as quoted in the Catechism):

I distribute the virtues quite diversely; I do not give all of them to each person, but some to one, some to others…. I shall give principally charity to one; justice to another; humility to this one, a living faith to that one…. and so I have given many gifts and graces, both spiritual and temporal, with such diversity that I have not given everything to one single person, so that you may be constrained to practice charity towards one another…. I have willed that one should need another and that all should be my ministers in distributing the graces and gifts they have received from me.

The gifts may be extraordinary (speaking in tongues, miraculous healings, etc) or ordinary (teaching, administration, exhortation, etc), but as St. Paul points out in 1 Corinthians chapter 14, the flashier gifts tend to be of more benefit to the individual more often than the community. Also, that one’s gifts might be “ordinary” does make them any less supernatural. In using your gifts, whatever they may be, you are operating on a reality that transcends the material world.

An important note about the gifts, causes us to return to St Paul:

If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.

If our gifts are not used in charity, that is in service to God, who is love/”charity”, then they are not truly gifts of the Spirit. This means we can have natural talents that are not necessarily charisms. Part of discerning our gifts is evaluating how we use them, and our success in using them in service to the Lord. One might have a natural talent that is beneficial only to oneself, and never manifests itself in service, or even have a talent that only seems successful in the use of pursuing sin (it’s not too hard to think of those with natural charisma who use it for merely selfish purposes, for example). Only when the gift is used in charitable service, for the up-building of the Body of Christ, and is successful can it be rightly considered a Spiritual Gift.

This means that in our self-evaluation of our Gifts, we must be humble, and recognize what we may think of as a gift, isn’t. We may present our talent to the Church, submitting it to her service, but her shepherds are called to “test all things and hold fast to what is good.” And in the testing, while they should not “extinguish the Spirit,” they are called to discern for the sake of the Body, including the individual with the talent.

But when we have rightly discerned our gifts, and when we use them from a place of love in service to up-building the Body of Christ, we become mediators of God’s sanctifying grace. The gifts are “special graces,” that when used for the common good, participate in the divine nature and invite others into that same divine nature. In using our charisms we work toward our deification, and the theosis of others.

So let us discover our gifts using tools that recognize the supernatural nature of these talents, self-reflection, and the wisdom and counsel of those who know us well. Let us meditate on our gifts in prayer, asking God how he desires us to use them; study that we might grow in our gifts and use them well; reflect on our use of them to see how and when we use them; listen for affirmation of our gifts from others in the Body of Christ (and make sure to take the time to affirm others and thank them for the use of their gifts!), and above all PUT YOUR GIFTS TO USE ad majorem dei gloriam, “for the Greater Glory of God!”

Movie Event: “The Dating Project” – April 17

Western Carolina Catholic Campus Ministry is going to see The Dating Project movie Tuesday, April 17, 7:00pm at Regal Cinemas Biltmore Grande 15 & RPX [292 Thetford Street Asheville, NC] and would love for some AVL|CCM folks to join them.

The Dating Project is a film produced by several Catholic production companies, including Paulist Press, as a one night movie event. “Change the Dating Conversation! Is there a better way to find love than swiping left or right? Follow the story of five single adults, as they navigate the dating scene.”

Dating, not being a universal human experience, is not a topic the Church explicitly has a lot to say on. However, the Church has a lot to say on Marriage, or the Sacrament of Matrimony, which would be the ideal “end,” or reason, for why one would date. In all our actions, we should consider the end, or why, we’re doing any particular action. If we identify the end as being good, then we will also makes sure that the intention behind and action, and the means to that end, or how we accomplish our action, will also be good.

So let us consider the good of marriage when thinking about dating (from the Catechism):

1604 God who created man out of love also calls him to love the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being. For man is created in the image and likeness of God who is himself love. Since God created him man and woman, their mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man. It is good, very good, in the Creator’s eyes. and this love which God blesses is intended to be fruitful and to be realized in the common work of watching over creation: “and God blessed them, and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.'”

1605 Holy Scripture affirms that man and woman were created for one another: “It is not good that the man should be alone.” The woman, “flesh of his flesh,” i.e., his counterpart, his equal, his nearest in all things, is given to him by God as a “helpmate”; she thus represents God from whom comes our help. “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.” The Lord himself shows that this signifies an unbreakable union of their two lives by recalling what the plan of the Creator had been “in the beginning”: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh.”

UNCA Conference: Philosophy of Disability – April 20-21

 

Classes are coming up on their end, but to stretch your minds and hearts beyond exams and essays, you could stroll to Karpen Hall at week’s end, Friday & Saturday April 20-21 for a free and open-to-all conference on “Philosophy of Disability.”

Three of Saturday’s talks—”Disabilities in Heaven” (Dr Richard Cross, Notre Dame), “Personhood, Ableism, and the Philosophy of Religion” (Dr. Scott Williams, UNCA), and “The Moral Significance of Being Human” (Dr. Eva Feder Kittay, Stony Brook U.)—sound like they’d have significant bearing on what our Catholic Faith teaches on the topic: unceasing proclamation of the Dignity and Sacredness of all persons, regardless of circumstance, inherent from being created in the Image and Likeness of God (see Gen 1:27, John 9:3, Catechism 356ff & 1700ff) and call for protection and care, always, for the “least of these.”

Jean Vanier, Catholic philosopher and activist writes poignantly: “I’m not sure that we can really understand the message of Jesus, if we haven’t listened to the weak, to people who have been pushed aside, humiliated, seen of no value. At the same time through them we see that we too are broken, that we have our handicaps. And our handicaps are around about elitism, about power, around feeling that value is to have power.”

https://events.unca.edu/event/conference-philosophy-disability

Wed. Program: The Examen

 

Becca A (senior and one of our student leaders) gave a talk after our Wednesday Night Dinner on the Ignatian Prayer, the Examen, a great prayer to make a part of one’s daily prayer routine. Below is the outline of her presentation.


    • The Examen prayer is a technique described by St. Ignatius Loyola who said it was a gift from God.
    • A spiritual exercise/ technique for prayerful reflection
    • Can be done daily or twice daily (at noon and night)
    • 5 Steps:
      • Become aware of God’s presence
      • Review the day with gratitude and thanksgiving
      • Pay attention to your emotions and feelings
      • Choose one feature or feeling from your day and pray on it
      • Look toward tomorrow
    • Fr. Dennis Hamm: “Rummaging for God” or going through your day like you would a drawer, looking for something you already know is there. In this case you are looking for God’s presence in your day
    • Is understood as a sort of examination of conscience by some — looking at how one’s daily life stacks up against the Ten Commandments
    • There are many versions, which look for different things. An Ecological Examen, for example, looks for instances of God’s presence in nature throughout your day. One for Lent would have different questions to guide your thoughts differently.

 

 

  • Benefits:
    • You will always have something to pray about — the last 24 hours
    • Face the Lord where, when and how we are
    • Teaches respect for honest feelings and to pray on them
    • Helps find something for confession
    • Prevents “Deism”, or the idea of a “clock-maker God” — one who created the world, or clock, started it and then became hands-off (see Catechism n.285) Sharing our daily life with God counteracts the idea that he is not present with and invested in each of us.

Some helpful links from above:

Resources:

Different versions:

And here’s a helpful summary of the Examen from BustedHalo

examen-large

Leadership & Off Campus Opportunities

Julie McElmurry came to the CCM house today and made herself available for student drop-ins to talk about

  1. Evangelical Catholic Training (May in Hickory),
  2. Catholics on Call (July in Chicago), and
  3. Doing a year of service after college with a Catholic Volunteer Network organization

The talks opened up some real possibilities for students who may not have considered such opportunities before. For those who didn’t make it, Julie gave us some links to videos about Evangelical Catholic and Catholics on Call to learn more:

Evangelical Catholic

Catholics on Call