A Charismatic Initiation • by IAN STEWART

Ian Stewart face
Ian Stewart
I HAVE FOR MANY YEARS BEEN VAGUELY AWARE of the charismatic movement but until my visit to a men’s weekend at Stonyhurst College in July 2003 my exposure to prayer and life in the Holy Spirit had been remarkably limited. This was not because I was "anti". I simply didn’t think the Charismatic Movement had much to offer which was relevant to my development as a Christian. How wrong I was!

Evening Prayer of the Church
The proceedings appeared to start on the Friday evening in a very conventional way with Evening Prayer of the Church but it soon became apparent that I was in the company of an extraordinary band of men who brought a great enthusiasm and zest to their prayer life - and I wanted to feel the same way! The music and songs we sang that weekend were, like the prayer, addressed much more from the heart than from the head, though the words of the modern songs are often very thoughtful and deserve careful study. The amplified guitars and repetition of the choruses may not appeal to everyone but seemed to release a latent spirituality which at times was almost overwhelming. The Holy Spirit was truly moving in that place and we were all caught up in His work of bringing us closer to Our Lord, both for our personal benefit but even more important to help us to bring others to Christ.

'I realised for the first time in my life that the Lord does love me.'

The highlight for me came on the Saturday morning when I remarked quite casually in a small group session that although I knew intellectually I had received the Lord’s forgiveness I had never truly FELT that forgiveness. Within ten minutes I was being prayed over by six men who I hardly knew. For the first two or three minutes I was aware of the praying without feeling anything in particular but then I started shaking and panting in an uncontrollable way which left me totally exhausted, almost as if I had just come through a bad dose of flu. This soon passed and I then realised for the first time in my life that Our Lord DOES love me! What an amazing feeling this is! It gave me a huge sensation of release and reciprocal love for my neighbour, for mankind itself.

I was a little worried that this wonderful enlightenment might not last but I’m pleased to say after 7 months that God is still very much with me. I’m sure there are many other ways of coming to this acceptance of His love but all I can say is that for me a weekend in the unlikely surroundings of a famous public School in Lancashire has, through the Holy Spirit, given me a more profound experience of the joy of God’s love than anything else I have done since I was baptised into the Catholic Church shortly after my birth in 1946.

Dear Lord, Thank you for this. Thank you for coming into my life so I can really feel part of Your Body. Help me now to continue to do Your will!