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Paul Vadakumpadan, Shillong says,
ST. PAUL`S LIST OF CHARISMS UPDATED
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Shillong, May. 7.
``And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues.`` This is how St. Paul enumerates charisms in the church (1 Cor 12:28)


Is the list given by Paul destined to last forever? It is in the Bible. It is part of the word of God. Therefore, it has permanent validity. So it may be surprising to see nowadays new lists emerging in the congregation. The new list of charisms in the order of importance runs thus: First, fund raising, second achievement, third prestige, fourth closeness to VIPs and centres of power.  There are other charisms too: popularity, publicity, name and fame. If one`s name is in the papers, that is great. If one is on TV, that is greater still.

For us, whether we see ourselves as Sons of Daily Beggars, or men who keep begging Send Dollar Bills, there is no doubt fundraising is necessary. Nay it is important and even urgent.  We thank God we have men with this charism. We are also aware of the struggles that we go through when such charismatic confreres are lacking. But assets can turn into liabilities. That happens when some such men present themselves as supermen and even exercise super power. That is aberration. God sends us means. However if in collecting these means, there is aberration, such means may stop coming.  

Many years ago, a provincial told me that some confreres wanted young brothers in practical training who had competence in electricity, computers, sport, stage  and above all in music. Such insistence has now come down because the number of brothers has come down. Alarmingly! Talents are certainly good. To see talented young people coming forward to serve God is encouraging. At the same time, careful of the De Gaulle complex. Charles de Gaulle the noted French president, a practising Catholic, went to his private chapel to say a little prayer before an important cabinet meeting. The prayer went thus, ``Sacred Heart of Jesus, have confidence in me.``

As we live in a world where the accepted policy is perform or perish, survival of the fittest, media is master (including paid news), there is a danger that we may end up with a lop-sided view of charisms. A pastor who regularly visits the homes of his people to strengthen them in the faith, who is always available for prayer and sacramental ministry, a Salesian who is ever ready to assist the youngsters who attend our many institutions and mix with them, a missionary who tries to bring as many people as possible into faith and fellowship in the Church, these confreres are also rendering a truly charismatic service. They may never appear in newspapers, perhaps not even in our humble province newsletter.  

May we never undervalue such charisms. May we never overrate some other charisms.

Paul Vadakumpadan

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