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Community Power

Through the ongoing Incarnation of Christ, each of us has the powers to heal others and to bind others to Christ through our love. Our powers are derived from the fact that we as individuals are incorporated into the Body of Christ. The question remains: Does the special presence of the Risen Christ in communities give any special powers to those who come together in community?

Growth Power. Something happens when people come together in the name of Christ. The Risen Christ is present, gifting them with His Spirit. In this environment, they have the capacity to actualize the power of the indwelling Spirit within each other. Given the chance, the Spirit releases dimensions of our personalities that in our ordinary lives we are unwilling or unable to display. We call these growth experiences moments of Spirit-empowerment through Christian community, Cursillo’s special charism.

Psychologists tell us that we grow or become more fully ourselves through other people. As Christians, we would say that differently, because we believe that there is essentially a spiritual reality that we are dealing with, namely, an encounter with the Spirit’s power in our relationships. Of course, we must come to Christian community (Ultreya, Group Reunion, etc.) with openness to the empowerment of Christian community, with an awareness of Cursillo’s charism, and with an expectancy that the Spirit will empower us to grow individually and as members of our community.

Prayer Power. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus tells us: “Everyone who asks receives; everyone who searches finds.” But why does God not answer our prayers? We ignore the meaning of Christ’s ongoing Incarnation. In his book, The Holy Longing, Fr. Ronald Rolheiser answers that question by making two distinctions. First, when we petition God through Jesus Christ, what is being asked for must be asked through Jesus Christ and ourselves as members of the Body of Christ. Second, he says: “Prayers of petition have power to the extent that they are linked to concrete action within a community of faith and love.” For example, our personal Palanca is part of a communal effort to petition Christ’s Spirit for candidates’ conversion. Christ’s ongoing Incarnation has changed the way we petition God: we flesh out our petitions with action.

Forgiveness Power. As Catholics, we believe in the forgiveness power of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. That said, Rolheiser points out the role of community in having our sins forgiven: “To state things rather crassly…if I commit a serious sin on Saturday night and, whatever my physical state on Sunday morning, enter a church with some sincerity and contrition in my heart, I am forgiven my sin. I am touching the hem of Christ’s garment….We can forgive each other’s sins; not we, but the power of Christ within us.” He points out that St. Augustine stated that when Christians stood around the altar as a community and prayed the Lord’s Prayer, any sins they had ever committed would be forgiven. Such is the forgiveness power of community.

Infallibility Power. Infallibility is another power of Christian community. Are you surprised? Fr. Ladislas M. Orsy, SJ, a professor of law at Georgetown University, quotes the Vatican ll documents: “The whole body of the faithful who received an anointing which comes from the holy one…cannot be mistaken in belief. It shows this characteristic through the entire people’s supernatural sense of the faith, when, ‘from the bishops to the last of the faithful’ it manifests a universal consensus in matters of faith and morals.” Fr. Orsy writes: “Infallibility is not the exclusive privilege of the pope and of the bishops in council: it resides in the whole people.” Of course, the pope is the guide and spokesperson for the gift of infallibility.