BXVI on the authentic movement of the Spirit

“This is, dear friends, the seal of an authentic experience of the Holy Spirit, source of every charism: The receiver of supernatural gifts never boasts, does not exhibit them and, above all, shows total obedience to ecclesial authority. Every gift distributed by the Holy Spirit, in fact, is destined for the edification of the Church, and the Church, through her pastors, recognizes their authenticity.”

– Benedict XVI, 9.2.10, from his weekly audience

I find the words I have highlighted in bold to be especially key. This obedience to ecclesial authority is indeed foundational in establishing the authenticity of new developments in the Church, that is, whether or not they are inspired by the Holy Spirit.

One usually thinks that if something is out of line with the authority of the Church, that it is “liberal” (for example, dressing up as Barney at a “children’s Mass”). However, just as severe, if not as common, is a breach of the authority of the Church in a “conservative” manner (think the SSPX’s rejection of certain Vatican II documents). Thus, both “liberals” and “conservatives” have a standard by which their agenda must be judged: the authority of the Church’s pastors. Of course here we have the fine line of what is the legitimate action of a particular pastor, and what is not, but at least at a general level, we can make the point. (It’s nice to have a pastor of the universal Church, the Roman bishop, as an example, isn’t it?)

Remember that the Church is Christ’s mystical body here on Earth, and thus her pastors are in a real sense other Christs, and thus have the authority to determine such things as the authenticity of an ecclesial movement. Yes, our God is crazy enough to give real, legitimate authority to us. Remember that this authority only comes through the Holy Spirit, given in the Sacrament of Holy Orders, though. It’s all from Him, always. (Mysterious!)

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