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 II: The Nature of Extraordinary Gifts of God


   The following is part 2 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.

   It is interesting to first note that the present-day charismatic movement has its origins in Protestantism, which means it originates in a forum that fundamentally rejects rightful spiritual authority, so the result is a misunderstanding and an actual blindness as to the presence, place, and function of the charismatic gifts, which is the duty of the Church’s authority to determine.

   We must remember how easily we can be deceived by the powers of hell who can present themselves as angels of light. Unfortunately, this misunderstanding seems to have infected the Catholic circles and, together with the modern collapse of the true sense of the sacred, has led to a great deal of confusion nowadays about these gifts and their purpose. This confusion can lead to spiritual downfall or the retarding of true spiritual progress if one is not on guard.

   In many Protestant circles, for instance, it is considered a sign of holiness or approval from God to possess one of the charismatic gifts and it could be a safe bet that such a mentality has also crept in among Catholics, although perhaps not as widespread. This could not be further from the truth.

   The Church’s teaching on the charismatic gifts, supported by St. Thomas Aquinas and the writings of the great saints, theologians, and mystics, is that these gifts belong to what is classified as “extraordinary graces,” that is, graces that are freely given by God to a person but for the specific purpose of the sanctification of another soul, not the sanctification of the person who has the gift.

   These gifts are distinct from sanctifying grace. As we know, sanctifying grace (or charity) renders our souls pleasing to God, it is a reflection of God’s very life in the soul and remains there as long as there is no mortal sin to drive it out; in other words, sanctifying grace is ordinary and extended to all souls for the purpose of their own personal sanctification and salvation. We need it in order to go to heaven and it can increase in us with the performance of penance and good works.

   This is the key distinction and of extreme importance in understanding the matter: sanctifying grace is for our own holiness; the charismatic gifts are for the sanctification of another. Therefore, an individual’s personal holiness is not a condition for the possession of a charismatic gift, which means an individual can be in a state of mortal sin and still have a charismatic gift.

   So, for instance, a priest in a state of sin while hearing confessions could very well be given a gift from God to read the soul of a person making a confession in order to bring to light sins the person has forgotten or is too embarrassed to tell. In such a case, the gift has no bearing on the soul of the priest but rather prevents the penitent from making an incomplete confession or committing a sacrilege.

   This shows overall that the charismatic gifts are completely gratuitous and are completely dependent upon the good pleasure of God. In granting these gifts for a person to use, God may do so only once, or occasionally, or even habitually, but these gifts are never to be desired or prayed for, keeping in mind that when God does grant a person the habitual presence of a gift (like He did for Padre Pio), God always attaches a great deal of suffering with it in order to keep the person humble and to manifest that it is completely His work; in fact, this would be one sign that the gift is authentic. We can conclude from this then that it would be highly suspect for someone with a charismatic grace to openly advertise having it because it would lead others to place their hope in the gift or the person and not in God, which is completely contrary to the purpose of the gift.

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











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




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