BY GRADY STUCKMAN
Franciscan University hosted the first seminar Oct. 21 in a Growth in the Spirit series designed to delve deeper into the gifts and charisms that the Holy Spirit has to offer, especially praying in tongues.
Created to compliment the Born of the Spirit retreats that occur once a semester, this seminar was led by Mark Nehrbas, director of development at Franciscan University and a leader in a charismatic Catholic renewal movement in the city of Steubenville. Nehrbas delivered a teaching-witness about the gifts of the Holy Spirit in his life.
Nehrbas addressed how to receive the gift of tongues. He explained that this charism is nothing more than praying in a language unknown to the speaker, whether it is a language known on earth or not.
He first explained the difference between gifts of the Holy Spirit, which all Christians receive, and charisms of the Holy Spirit, which vary among Christians. Nehrbas further explained that to receive a charism, one must be completely open to it, ready to receive it in thanksgiving and gratitude.
To begin praying in tongues, Nehrbas recommended, “Just say two syllables in a language that you do not know and then see what utterances you say from there.”
He did not merely explain how to pray this way, but following his talk, he invited the entire audience to come forward and be prayed over that they might receive the charism and practice praying in tongues using his method. Some students said they felt at peace while praying.
Nehrbas said that speaking in tongues is a gift that God forms but also one that could be taken advantage of by demons, so discernment of spirits is necessary to determine whether somebody is genuinely exercising this charism.
Nehrbas also said that praying in tongues is a continuing process. Speaking from his experience, he suggested that the audience contemplate what utterances return to them over a few weeks. These returning utterances, he said, have a special, prophetic meaning that God reveals to the ones who pray in tongues.
Junior Lucas Nocera, who experienced praying in tongues prior to the event, mentioned that this seminar “really delved deep into the gifts and charisms that God the Holy Spirit has to offer.”
Nocera also said that the seminar complemented the Born of the Spirit retreats, which he has attended.
The seminar was accompanied by praise and worship led by Nocera and sophomore Chris Figueroa.
The Growth in the Spirit seminars will each focus on a different gift or charism.