To Jesus through the Holy Spirit – why and how to start a charismatic prayer group

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Fr. Dean Buttrick, presenting on how to start a charismatic prayer group, correlates the raising of one’s hands in prayer with the priest’s physical movements during the Mass and Moses’ prayer for the Israelites in the Old Testament. Parishioners from Our Lady of the Lakes, Balsam Lake; Our Lady of Lourdes, Dobie; and St. Joseph’s, Rice Lake, attended the March 28 event. (Catholic Herald photo by Jenny Snarski)

Jenny Snarski
Catholic Herald Staff
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Fr. Dean Buttrick, liaison for the Charismatic Renewal in the Diocese of Superior, opened an informational session on starting a prayer group the way he suggests a prayer group should start – with praise and worship in song.

“By our praise and worship, we call on the fullness of the Holy Spirit,” Fr. Buttrick said. Something, he added, that has not been fully appreciated in the Church.

Referencing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, he continued, “Praise is a form of prayer which recognizes most immediately that God is God, it lauds God for His own sake and gives Him glory quite beyond what He does, simply because He is.”

Fr. Buttrick also emphasized the centrality of the Eucharist.

“For us, the Eucharist is a sacrifice of praise. Thus, all that transpires in a charismatic prayer meeting needs to flow from and to the Eucharist, which is the source and summit of our Christian life.”

After singing three well-known hymns, the priest spoke about the purposes of a charismatic prayer group: First, to grow and deepen one’s relationship with the Holy Spirit; second, to call on the presence of the Holy Spirit through praise and worship; third, to reflect and meditate on Scripture and learn about gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Fr. Buttrick acknowledged his own growth through the Charismatic movement. He expressed that the relationship with the Holy Spirit “is not something added on, extra or nice, but is very much to be at the center.”

He shared his own prior experience in priestly ministry.

“We did not always call on the Holy Spirit in our decision-making,” he said, “but we relied on our own human knowledge, our own human understanding. That is where the Holy Spirit should be leading and guiding us.”

He quoted the Gospel account of the apostles’ obedience to Jesus’ instructions to wait in prayer until the Holy Spirit came. Referencing the Acts of the Apostles, he said a prayer group is “not just a club for ourselves but, as the apostles on Pentecost, to go out and proclaim the Gospel.”

According to Fr. Buttrick, prayer group meetings can be held weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. A leader and co-leader are suggested, with limited leadership terms of two to four years. Meetings should take place at a parish facility, and always with the backing of the pastor.

Emphasizing that “nobody should start without the priest,” Fr. Buttrick encouraged people wanting to start a new prayer group to pull together a few core people and approach the priest before any other organizing. He also offered himself for consultation and help leading the first meeting, noting his desire is to visit all diocesan prayer groups on occasion.

The handout addressed some of the more unfamiliar aspects of the Charismatic movement, such as praying in tongues, the raising of hands, prophesying and miracles. Fr. Buttrick took his time going through each one.

The priest said, “You should pray as you feel comfortable, as if you were alone with Jesus; but at the same time, respect others.”

The spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit have been given to all confirmed Catholics, he clarified, but they often need to be activated, their power released. The less common gifts of prophecy, discernment of spirits, tongues, healing and miracles should not be directly sought after; they are more often received by someone who has made themselves available to God’s will and service.

Fr. Buttrick affirmed these are gifts, and they come from the Holy Spirit. They are not to be taken lightly, but neither to be feared.

The handout provided also addressed the reality of Satan with various Scripture passages. Fr. Buttrick said, “Satan is very real.” He has attended exorcist conferences; worldwide, there are very real accounts of his activity.

“Satan doesn’t worship God, but he believes in God. He knows that God exists. And the greatest thing that he wants … is exactly for people to think that he does not exist … because then he can work into people’s lives” without much awareness or understanding.

The presentation concluded with a few final pointers.

“Concentrate on Jesus and you… Don’t be afraid, you are with friends. Don’t let the evil one discourage you … You will experience the fruits of the Spirit as you progress.”

Mary Joan Sutton, parishioner of St. Bridget’s in River Falls, leads the core team. As their mission statement suggests, they want “to help people a personal relationship with God through the grace and gifts of the Holy Spirit; to spread the gospel by service to others.” Assisting any parish that wants to start a prayer group is part of their vision.

“We want to foster the spiritual growth of all, so we will meet and support anyone who calls us,” she said.

Charismatic Spring Teaching Conference

A spring teaching conference will also help with this vision. On May 18 at St. Peter’s Church, Cameron, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the core team will be offering various workshops in addition to a keynote address via video given by Fr. Michael Becker.

Fr. Becker is the rector of St. John Vianney College Seminary, and he will be speaking on “Growing your Charisms.”

All are welcome to attend. More information on this conference, existing prayer groups and contact information is available at https://catholicdos.org/charismatic-renewal.

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