Came across this word in I’m OK – You’re OK.

Religious meaning

A charism (plural: charismata. From the Greek, charis – grace; the divine influence on the receiver’s heart, and its reflection in his or her life.) is a power, generally of a spiritual nature, believed to be a freely given gift by the grace of God.

In the study of church matters, it also refers to the particular grace granted by God to religious founders and their organization which distinguish them from other organizations within the same church. The term is used in this sense especially in the ecclesiology of the Roman Catholic Church.

Well-known Charismatic powers in Christian traditions:

  • Discernment of spirits
  • Laying on of hands
  • Exorcism
  • Glossolalia

Social meaning

The word is also used in social psychology in secular circumstances, and takes the meaning of personal influence on other people individually or as a group.

Religious orders (generally Catholic sponsored orders) use the word to describe their spiritual orientation and any special characteristics of their mission or values that might be exhibited because of the vows that they have taken and the orientation of the order to which they belong. An example might be the works of a teaching order as compared with that of an order that emphasizes care of the poor or the sick.