I was 50 years old before I learned that I had a superpower and that it would help me carry out a special and unique mission. And that I wasn’t the only one; every baptized person has a mission and “superpowers” with which to accomplish their mission. My mission, or call, and yours comes from God. But most Catholics do not know that they have been given a call from God. It is not just for Saints or a small number of special people. It is an ordinary experience. All of us have a contribution to make to the Kingdom of God that is unique and irreplaceable and that really matters.
At Baptism and Confirmation the Holy Spirit pours spiritual gifts into us. Some of these gifts are sanctifying gifts, meant for our own holiness; and some of these gifts are meant to manifest God’s love and mercy to others. The catechism states Within the communion of the Church, the Holy Spirit “distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank” for the building up of the Church. (951) These special graces or gifts are called charisms. And our charisms are the “superpowers” granted by the Holy Spirit that give us a special empowerment to bring God’s redeeming love into the world. We don’t use our charisms for our own gain or betterment, only for God’s purposes or to serve others.
Charisms bear three marks that allow us to recognize them with confidence:
- An unmistakable inner experience of peace, energy and joy when you are using this gift.
- Unusually effective and successful results in what you are trying to accomplish.
- Other people’s direct or indirect recognition of the gift’s presence.
Charisms are profoundly and directly connected to our relationship with God and grow in power and purity as our relationship with God grows. In other words, you cannot begin to discern your charisms until you have “dropped your nets” to follow Christ. Over the next few weeks I will share with you some information about some of the most common charisms, starting with Intercessory Prayer. I hope and pray you will be intrigued by the charisms and curious to discover what yours might be.
Vicki Compton is the Coordinator of Faith Formation and Mission at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield, Illinois.