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Expert Answer Forum

by Catherine Frakas 25 Mar 2003

Charismatic Movement QUESTION from kartono May 5, 2000 Dear Legion of St. Michael,
I don't know actually to which forum should this question goes into, I apologize if I made mistake, but here's the question.
What is the church opinion on this new charismatic movement being included in some Catholic worship ? somehow, I personally feel that this type of worship has already destroyed some of the pure Catholic value. I must confess that I'm personally against the charismatic worship.
What is the Catholic church view on this one ? I know that the some parish included some charismatic worship group, which I think is not Catholic at all.
best regards Kartono Wihardja
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, O.L.S.M. on May 8, 2000 Dear Mr. Kartono:
Yes, this subject can be an issue of Spiritual Warfare when so-called Charismatics are out-of-balance.
When the people and groups who call themselves Charismatic are in balance in their views about this subject, then the Charismatic Renewal can be an asset to the Church -- and in this balanced form the Pope has praise the Renewal.
But, there are so many who are not in balance, and from my experience and observation, the Charismatic Renewal has caused much damage to the faithful -- but also has been of benefit to many more.
The primary point of which Charismatics need to reflect upon to ensure proper balance include:
Avoid all influence of Protestant Charismatic theology. Many, many charismatics are contaminated by the Protestant Charismatic theologies which are generally incompatible with the Catholic concept of this experience.

Maintain reason as a guide over emotion. This is one of the BIGGEST problems with not only the Charismatic Renewal but also the Marian Movement. Both movements tend to judge and evaluate things through emotion rather than reason. This is absolutely dangerous. It is dangerous not only because of the subjective nature of emotion, but also because emotion is affected by chemical balances and reactions in the brain and can swiftly more from one emotion to another, and is so powerful a distorting factor that even eye-witness memories can be skewed to the point that the eye-witness memory is worthless. Emotion affects the way memory is stored in the brain. It also affects the way we perceive things. It cannot be relied upon as a reliable determiner of facts, beliefs, or perspective of the world. The Church teaches that reason MUST be the guardian of emotion. To fail in this is called, sensualism which is a form of idolatry.

Another problem of the Charismatics is that they tend to think that this form of devotion is the only one worth having. There is a tendency among some to look down upon those who are not in the Renewal and especially if one is not a demonstrable with their emotions as they are. The Charismatic Renew is but ONE form of devotion among many. Any attitude of superiority is a form of religious snobbery.

Related the the undue influence of the Protestant theologies on the charismatic experience, many in the Renewal have skewed ideas about the Charisms of the Spirit. Many think, for example, that tongues speaking is an important gift for anyone who is charismatic. St. Paul, on the other hand calls tongue the LEAST of all the gifts. There is also a misnomer that people may have all the Charisms, or that everyone will have tongues, even though Scripture CLEARLY teaches that God distributed the Gifts to whom He pleases, one gift to one person, another gift to another person.

Because of the tendency for emotion to rule over reason among Charismatic circles the manifestations of some gifts tend to be psychogenic and not genuine gifts. Many charismatic experiences are often psychogenic and not genuine spiritual experiences. The problem is telling the difference. When a group puts emotions over reason is becomes impossible to tell the difference. In addition, due to the subjective emotional way of thinking among many in the Renewal, there is a tendency practice so-called gifts in a way that is liken to the occult. I have personally seen very fine lines being made with what is really divination, and oftentimes the line being crossed.
Associated with this is a GREAT tendency for tremendous presumption and pride -- people DECLARING with dogmatic certainly that God has personally spoke to them off the cuff and as a WORD for you. In most circumstances when some stranger tells me that they have a WORD from God just for me, I reply, Get thee behind me.....

Following on this arrogance is the oftentimes abuse of liturgy by Charismatics where they violate liturgical law by speaking in tongues during Mass, swaying and clapping to music, holding hands together as a congregation, and singing songs and playing music that is not sacred music. All these things are prohibited by the Church, yet many charismatic groups rebel against the Church on this.
These are some of the significant and major problems of the Charismatic Renewal. The bottom line reason for these abuses is placing emotion over reason.
But when these problems are absent and a person or group is properly balanced and obedient to the Church, then the Charismatic form of devotion can be a major asset for some people.
You can read an article the summarizes the Church's teaching, and also makes some observations on the various kinds of gifts at the following URL. This article is actually part of the Rule of St. Michael.
Spiritual Gifts
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