What is It?
The Catholic Faith in Action Seminar is a series of eight meetings designed to prepare participants to experience a “personal Pentecost,” commonly referred to as the Releasing of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
During the Last Supper, Jesus promised his disciples that after His Ascension he would ask His Father to send the Holy Spirit as their “helper”, to teach and remind them “everything that He had told them.”
This promise was fulfilled at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit appeared very dramatically as tongues of fire. Immediately, the disciples became bold in their faith, they devoted themselves to prayer, and every day the Lord added to their numbers. We celebrate this dramatic event as the birthday of our Church.
When Pope John XXIII (now St. John XXIII) convened the Second Vatican Council, he prayed, “Renew in our day, O Lord, your wonders as in a new Pentecost.” God heard that prayer, and Christians today are experiencing the Holy Spirit is a transforming and empowering personal Pentecost.
Although the wind of the Holy Spirit blows where it wills, experience has shown that it wills to blow where it is invited. This is why the Church was graced with the refreshing infusion of the Holy Spirit following Vatican II: we asked the Holy Spirit to come. One of the results was the beginning of the Charismatic Renewal in the Church, which is commonly identified as having had its origin at a Catholic retreat at Duquesne University in 1967.
The transforming event of this personal Pentecost is called the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The name can be a bit confusing; this is not another sacrament. Rather, it is an experience of the fullness of the Holy Spirit that was already received in the sacraments of Baptism and especially Confirmation. As Bishop Edward O’Rourke pointed out, for many the sacraments of initiation are experienced only superficially. The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit refreshes and deepens the intent of the sacrament already received.
The renewal of individuals is an integral part of the renewal of the Church initiated by Vatican II. Building on the sacramental life of the Church, the Holy Spirit received in Baptism and reinforced in Confirmation is being “fanned into flame”, with the result that Catholics are:
Living a more deeply committed Christian life
Preparing for This Personal Pentecost:
Receiving and using the gifts of the Holy Spirit
Experiencing a stronger sense of Christian community
On a personal level, seven steps have been identified that can assist a person to ask the Holy Spirit to come more fully into their lives; i.e., to become more fully open to this empowering action of the Holy Spirit. These steps were incorporated in a manual in 1971 called The Life in the Spirit Seminars. The content of these seminars incorporated the experiences of the Protestant Pentecostal movement earlier in the 1900s, and had a recognizable ecumenical flavor. In 2000 the Life in the Spirit Seminars underwent an update which incorporated the thirty years of Catholic experience gained in the intervening years.
In this same timeframe, in the Diocese of Peoria, a revision of the Life in the Spirit Seminars was developed which incorporates more extensive references to Sacred Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This revised, “fully Catholic and fully Charismatic” seminar series became known as the Catholic Faith in Action Seminar.
Content of the Catholic Faith in Action Seminar:
The invitation to a deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit involves an openness to God’s love. The seminar includes an introductory overview, then moves through four preparatory steps that present traditional Catholic teaching as it impacts and influences our openness to the Holy Spirit. Next, participants are prayed over for the release of the Holy Spirit.
The release of the Holy Spirit, however, is not the end goal. The ultimate goal is to put this new-found power into action in our lives, and hence the new name of the seminar series, with a continued openness to personal growth and transformation.
The eight sessions of the Catholic Faith in Action Seminar consist of an introduction plus seven steps of preparation.
- Introduction to the Catholic Faith in Action
- God's Love
- Preview of the New Life in the Spirit
- Receiving God's Gift
- Release of the Holy Spirit
- Growth Through Ongoing Conversion
- Transformation in Christ