Sacred Heart Church On The Charismatic Movement

Sacred Heart

Catholic Church

Imlay City, Michigan  Tel: (810) 724-1135

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A Reasoned Critique of the Gnostic Charismatic Movement

Charismania Part I: Gifts of the Spirit, Then and Now

 

   The following is part 1 of a 5-part series exposing some of the disorders of the so-called “charismatic movement.” All the parts of this series add up to one homily entitled The Charismatic Gifts delivered by an anonymous priest some years ago. The whole homily can be read and shared on our parish’s web site.

   In the past fifty or sixty years, we have been witnessing the surge (or onslaught depending on how one wishes to look at it) of what could be called religious revival meetings, which usually occur within Protestant circles but have also and regrettably found a growing niche within Catholic circles.

   Regardless of where, there are common qualities: usually there is some dynamic speaker or panel that works up the crowd, there is so-called “praise and worship” that has music and gestures that are characteristic of high-school pep rallies, and there seems to be the presence of various manifestations of the Holy Ghost, usually in the form of what could be called speaking in tongues, interpretations, healings, and the like.

   Catholic circles tend to take this all one step further by sometimes having these things within the framework of Mass or Eucharistic adoration. Doing things like this is quite foreign to the Church’s sacred spiritual and liturgical tradition as taught authoritatively by the great saints and doctors – masters of the spiritual life – and ratified by the Church’s Magisterium for centuries.

   Forms of worship such as these put a great deal of weight upon the emotions, and although God can and does always draw good from anything, this does not preclude the fact that such forms are fundamentally flawed in that these transform the spiritual life and its progress into an emotional experience; as a result, the focus of the spiritual life is taken off the will and perfection of charity and placed upon things that are not essential.

   The epistle heard today
[1] to the Corinthians was written because the new Christians in Corinth questioned St. Paul about the value of the charismatic gifts of the Holy Ghost, gifts which seemed to have permeated throughout the Church at Corinth. Because of this, an attitude of comparing and classifying the gifts had arisen among the people and this began leading to jealousies and feuds.

   To correct the problem, St. Paul reminds them that the gifts all have a single source, the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Truth, and so are not matters for boasting. St. Paul then enumerates nine such gifts, including, as mentioned, speaking in tongues, interpretations, and healings, along with other ones like miracles, prophecy and so on.

   In the early stages of the Church, like as was seen at Corinth, the presence of these gifts was quite common, but the reason for this was to assist with the diffusion and confirmation of the teachings of the Church in new regions, which is the mission of the Holy Ghost accomplished through the Apostles. And for this reason precisely, the Apostles had these gifts in their fullness – just peruse the book of Acts – and this is one of the reasons why three thousand were baptized by St. Peter on Pentecost.

   Nonetheless, these gifts were not confined to the Apostles, other people had them, but as the Church matured and Christianity spread and rooted, the presence of these gifts became less and less prevalent, although never entirely disappearing. They still are operating today, from public figures of recent memory like Padre Pio, to the majority of which are private instances, but the degree of their public presence is certainly a matter of debate.

   (Part II will be published in next week’s parish bulletin.)


 

[1] This homily was delivered on the 10th Sunday after Pentecost in the Extraordinary Form. The Epistle, roughly equivalent to the “First Reading” in the Ordinary Form of the Mass, for that Sunday is 1 Cor 12:2-11.

 

 

 

 

A Reasoned Critique of the Gnostic Charismatic Movement

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Compendium of Social Doctrine of the Church, from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Librevia Editrice Vaticana

 

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