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Faith/Spirituality Forum: charismatic renewal reviewal

by Catherine Frakas 16 Jun 2001

charismatic renewal reviewal QUESTION from sean July 16, 2001
what are your thoughts/experiences with the Catholic Charismatic Renwal? I have grown up in the midst of it, but have become discouraged with the emotionalism involved.
-do you think the gifts of speaking in tongues, prophecy, healing & miracles are real and given by God to many people (do you feel every person has atleast one of the spiritual gifts)?
-Do you think that the Charismatic renewal is for the whole church, or should it stay a enclosed group for those called to it.(asumming it is free of its emotionalism baggage)
-is thier any benifit to speaking in tongues? (for myself and others)
-is the laying on of hands the appropriate way for a lay person to pray for another person? -would clapping and raising your hands be exceptable worship to God during mass?
-as a catholic would involving myself with the Renwal bring me closer to God and the Church or hinder my relathionship with God, expecting all the frills of the charisms?
I feel called to minisrty and I want to know if you think involving charismatic influences to my ministry would be a help or a hinderence in helping bring people to a closer relathionship with God. I can say for myself it has been both a great blessing and a heartache (due to emotionalism).
God bless you for the work that you do(:
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on July 20, 2001 Dear Sean:
I was part of the charismatic movement for a while when I was a Protestant. I spoke in tongues. In my case I later realized that my tongues were from Satan and not from God. I renounced them and have never spoken in tongues since.
Although I have not formally been a member of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, I have been closely associated with it. Both the pastor and deacon who brought me into the Church are part of the Renewal and most of the founding members of the Legion of St. Michael are part of the Renewal. I have also attending Charismatic meetings of the Catholic Renewal. Thus my experience is not mere arm-chair or academition.
On the issues of Tongues, Tongues is the least of the gifts and should not be coveted in any way. Tongues is also the EASIEST gift for Satan to counterfeit. Everyone and their cat speaks in tongues -- witches, shamans, witch-doctors, voodoo priests, satanist, occultist, etc.
Anyone speaking in tongues needs to have them tested. And I am sorry, but FEELING good about one's tongues, or thinking that positive fruits have come from one's tongues, is NOT test enough.
Tongues needs to be tested against the test of 1 John 4:1-3:
1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3* and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already. Tongues is not the only gift that should be tested, but it is the primary one.
Also we must remember that in order for a gift to be a SPIRITUAL GIFT (Charism) that St. Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians it MUST be a gift that edifies and builds up the Church. A 'gift' that does not do that is NOT one of the Spiritual Gifts as St. Paul refers to them. Thus a private prayer language of tongues does not qualify and is NOT one of the charism gifts taught by St. Paul.
I have great doubt as to the genuine existance of a private prayer language. There is very little Scriptural Evidence for such a thing. But in any event, such a phenomenon is purely secondary to the true Spiritual Gifts that build-up the Church.
The Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church can be a good thing IF it awakens the power of the Holy Spirit within us. One already has the Holy Spirit within them. There is no baptism of the Sprit that is separate from that which takes place at the Sacrament of Baptism and the Sacrament of Confirmation. But we can have a filling of the Spirit that can come and go.
The experience that charismatics speak of as baptism of the Spirit is actually just the first awakening of the Power of the Holy Spirit within them as they are filled in a renewed (and perhaps really for the first time in full awareness) by the Spirit.
Tongues does NOT have to take place either at this first awakening or ever. The Bible is clear that the Gifts are randomly given to people as God chooses. We don't all have the same gifts and Tongues is NOT evidence of this filling. Love is the evidence of this filling.
Oftentimes, however, Charismatic groups become a church within a church and this is improper. We are ALL charismatics by virtue of the Sacrament of Baptism. The gifts that the charismatics experience are for the CHURCH, not for them alone. They need to be integreted within the Church.
But to do this Charistmatics need to express their devotion properly and within the Catholic teaching and worldview. So often the details of the Charismatic theology is contaminated by a Protestant theology which is HIGHLY flawed. Catholic Charismatics need to be CATHOLIC first. They need to remain firmly within Catholic Teaching AND Catholic worldview and stop borrowing from Pentecostals and other Protestant charismatics who have errant theologies on the charismatic experience.
Charismatics also need to be obedient to the Bible and to the Church. Some groups violate the law in their so-called charismatic masses. There in only ONE Mass and to characterize a Mass as charistmatic is really improper, especially when the peculiar charasmatics elements are ILLEGAL to do during Mass. One is NOT to pray in tongues during Mass outloud or collectively, play folks songs, clap and sway with the music, prophecy, lay on hands, etc. etc. These are ALL abuses of the Mass, a rebellion against Church discipline.
But if the Charismatic avoids cliquish behavior, avoids Protestant theology, avoids abusing the Mass, adopts Church teaching AND worldview completely, and avoids over-emotionalism (which is condemned by the Church), THEN, MAYBE belonging to a charismatic group might do you good, if that sort of style is what you need to get on fire for God.
But one can exercise the Gifts of the Spirit, be filled with the Spirit, and be on fire for God without once stepping foot into a so-called charismatic group.
As to your question about laying on hands.... NO that is not the normal way to pray for others and one should be VERY careful about laying on hands. This is a way to have a demonic transference. The incidence of demonic transference is HIGH in charismatic circles.
As to hindering your ministry? Well if being in a charismatic group is an ocassion of pride, then yes, it will hinder your spiritual growth and ministry.
I have found that spiritual Pride is VERY HIGH in charistmatic groups. I have come across many charismatics who get VERY DEFENSIVE, (moreso than other groups with the exception of Marian groups who also operate on emotion), if the way they are doing things is challenged -- even when Church documents prove that they are in error.
Time after time, charismatics huff and puff and quit a mail list or chatroom because someone dared to disagree with them, or prove that their idea about something was in error. Many will outright refuse to obey the Church after they are told about a Church ruling they don't like.
Overall, from my personal experience with Charismatics going back 30 years is that as a group they are emotionally and spiritually immature. Now I have met mature individuals, but as a group charismatics do not favor maturity -- this is primarily because of their improper emphasis on the subjective experiences and on feelings.
By the way, these sorts of issues was of concern to St. Paul. The Church of Corinth was the charismatic movement of the first century. St. Paul had to repeatedly chastise them for their immaturitly and so did the Pope. We have an extant letter of Pope Clement I to the Church of Corinth chastising them and calling them under obedience upon pain of sin.
Historically, since the first century, EVERY charismatic outbreak, and there have been about 8 or 9, has been surrounded by improper behavior and theology. We cannot and should not throw the baby out with the bathwater, but his historical truth should give one cause and caution.
I don't know if any of this is helpful.... If all these stumblingblocks are removed, then the charismatic experience can be a good one.
For a discussion of Church teaching on this, and some thoughts from me on the Spiritual Gifts, see the following article:
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