This is Part 7 of a fifteen-part series called “The Vision of an Ideal Parish” based on an article by Dr. Peter Williamson published in 2016. This series is intended to return us to our original Faith Forward Vision.

I think that I am a bit of a pyromaniac; I like campfires. I’m the kind of person that, when I’m setting by a fire, I can’t just let the flames burn low. I like getting up, rolling the logs, adding new fuel, repositioning the embers, and getting a better oxygen flow. Frankly, it makes people around the fire a little uneasy because sparks tend to fly everywhere.

My tendency toward campfires is the same tendency I have toward parishioners: I like stirring the fire within. The Holy Spirit is a fire burning deep within us. Jesus himself said, “I have come to set fire to the earth and how I wish it were already blazing!” (Luke 12:49)

Jesus wants to stoke our flames ... to ignite our souls with the fire of the Holy Spirit ... and so do I. “Do you not know that you are a temple God and the Spirit of God dwells in you” (1 Cor 3:16)?

Then, if the Spirit dwells in you, the power of the Holy Spirit also flows through you. You have been gifted! You have been blessed to be dispensers of the power of God. And, as St. Paul says, “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them” (Rom 12:6-8)

Another word for “gift” is “charism.” And a “charismatic,” or a “charism-filled” person, is a one who uses their gifts to serve others. Here is a list of charisms many people experience, many of which are directly mentioned in the bible:

  • Administration
  • Celibacy
  • Craftsmanship
  • Discernment of Spirits
  • Encouragement
  • Evangelism
  • Faith
  • Giving
  • Healing
  • Helps
  • Hospitality
  • Intercessory Prayer
  • Knowledge
  • Leadership
  • Mercy
  • Missionary
  • Music
  • Pastoring
  • Prophecy
  • Service
  • Teaching
  • Voluntary Poverty
  • Wisdom
  • Writing

The vision of an ideal parish includes people who are set on fire with the life of the Holy Spirit. The fire of the Holy Spirit within us, like a campfire, must be kept burning brightly. We must stir ourselves into flame, we must add new fuel, we must reposition our interior selves, we must breathe the oxygen of the Spirit. When we “set ourselves on fire” we affect other people. Like a fire gives off warmth, light, and sparks; so too, the life of the Spirit helps us affect other people. We give off the warmth of love, the light of Christ and we share the sparks of the Spirit. In other words, each of us becomes gifted, “charismatic,” people that allows our parish to burn with shared gifts.

You see, in the end, Jesus wants us all to be a kind of pyromaniac: He wants us to be on fire with the Spirit. Let us therefore “put our gifts at the service of one another” (1 Pet 4:10) and make our parish a place burning with the life of the Holy Spirit.

Father Jarrod Lies, Pastor