Renew Your Wonders: Spiritual Gifts for Today

renewyourwondersRenew Your Wonders: Spiritual Gifts for Today
Author: Damian Stayne
ISBN: 9781912237008
Price: £12.99
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Date: 2017
Publisher: New Life Publishing, Nottingham

In this, the 50th anniversary year of Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church, it is perhaps timely that in a book full of fire and life, Damian Stayne has added a distinctively English contribution to the canon of Catholic charismatic classics associated with names such as Ralph Martin, Pat Collins, Briege McKenna and Francis MacNutt. The fruit of more than three decades of ministry in the Church, Renew Your Wonders summarizes the theological and pastoral understanding of the charismata gained by Damian and the Community of  Cor et Lumen Christi which emerged, like the Catholic Charismatic movement itself, from a student prayer group.

In taking his theological starting point as the challenge of Paul outlined in 1Corinthians 14.1 - 'Make love you're aim and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts' - Stayne heads off any sense that a desire to see the power of God at work among his people contradicts the supreme call to love. Instead, his book goes on to present chapters on prophetic and healing gifts, demonstrating their roots in scripture and tradition before at turns charming, pummelling and astonishing the reader with contemporary examples often directly connected to the work of Cor et Lumen Christi. The book doesn't shy away from contested topics such as tongues and deliverance ministry, but I found the matter of fact way in which Stayne talks about such things to be at once both disarming and reassuring. After further chapters on discernment, faith and miracles, the book concludes with a chapter dedicated to growth in the gifts based on ten keys, forged from the author's experience.

Among the intriguing features of the book is the way in which Stayne situates the charismatic flowering in the Church as part of a broader 'Century of the Spirit' promise which yielded the global Pentecostal movement on the one hand and Vatican II on the other. This contextualization is salutary, as Stayne paints a picture of global ecumenical and evangelical vitality far removed from more inward looking 'lauds and laments' all too often associated with the Council.

To declare an interest, I have known the author since we were both young, so I cannot claim the kind of safe distance from the subject which might allow one to be wistfully in thrall to far off tales of derring do - this stuff is happening in Chertsey! The book has limitations - understandably its pace does not permit extensive discussion of the mystery of apparently unanswered prayer and perhaps more could have been said about how Damian and the Community handle any pastoral confusion or misplaced expectations at advertised healing events. This does not, however, vitiate the overriding argument that kerygma and charism, proclamation and power are inextricably connected - with the unsettling implicit corollary that those of us content with their separation may be missing the point.

Anthony Towey, St Mary's University, Twickenham

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