Charismatic Renewal, as it would seem, increasingly needs to be experienced to be understood. No book, however excellent, can replace observation of and participation in — even with strong reservations — the "feel" and thrust of "Renewal" today. Its increase and strength, in so many parts of the world, remains a phenomenon which largely defies succinct explanation, though there is no lack of books on the subject.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of Renewal today is when it reaches its peak point in any one area or country. This seems inevitable with a spiritual force that, by its nature, cannot go on increasing at maximum intensity indefinitely. What happens when the peak has been passed as, according to most signs, has just about happened in America?
The next stage is even more fascinating to try and observe, and consists in a "leavening" process whereby charismatic dements are found creeping unobtrusively into everyday worship. This development is at present discernible in America.
If it continues, the dream of Cardinal Suenens could come true, and the charismatic spirit could fade out as an exceptional manifestation and become a central current in mainstream Catholic life.
Two works by the Cardinal are among the best of recent publications on the whole general subject.
Your God? By Cardinal Suenens (Darton, Longman & Todd £1.99)
A personal account of charismaticism as originally given to the Oxford Mission in 1977 in four memorable addresses.
Essays on Renewal By Cardinal Suenens (Servant Book £1.80)
The Cardinal here faces some tricky problems on which he and others have been challenged in the past. How does the Renewal Movement relate, at all, to the practical situations — sexual, social, political, etc — facing today's church?
A timely summary of this important aspect (neglected by many "addicts"!) and particularly useful for interested enquiries.
A Charismatic Theology by Herbert Muhlan (Burns & Oates £4.95)
The most profound discussion to date on the theological dimensions of Renewal. It fills an important gap. and has the added advantage of being susceptible to straight study or gradual assimilation in (group or individual) meditation form.
Annointed with the Spirit Introduced by Bishop Langton Fox (£1.00)
Ten personal testimonies of renewal. They come from priests working in different parts of England and Wales and help to explain the enormous increase in Charismatic Renewal among the clergy in these countries.
This was exemplified spectacularly by the recent meeting of so many of them, in the presence of the Cardinal. But the experiences show the infinity of difference as between individual approaches and the basic need for retention of common sense at all times.
Bishops' Move edited by Michael Harper (Hodder & Stoughton £2.50) Six Anglican bishops share their experience of Renewal. The men in question come from all parts of the world and some of the observations are as startling as they are significant.
Remove the Heart of Stone by Donal Dorr (Gill & Macmillan £2.50)
Virtually a spiritual "narrative" on the experiencing of more and more grace through Charismatic Renewal. Persuasively and attractively
written. Gerard Noel