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 III: Emotions and Seeking Consolation


   The following is part 3 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.

   The correct understanding of the proper place and function of the charismatic gifts establishes the grounds to legitimately call into question the purpose of so-called charismatic revivals and, most importantly, why we even see them in the Catholic Church.

   Now the good will of the people involved in such things is not being criticized here.

   With that said, and as stated earlier, these practices have a tremendous focus upon the emotions. It is not that our emotions are bad, but they require our reason in order to be governed or else they take on a mind of their own.

   The essence of the spiritual life consists in the union of our wills with God’s, and since the path to such union is often difficult and trying (it is essentially the way of the Cross), God will from time to time give the soul some sensible consolations, a certain sweetness of His presence, in order to help the soul along and encourage it, sort of like an oasis in the desert. Our emotions tend to like this.

   These consolations are more frequent when a soul begins taking the spiritual life seriously, but as progress is made, God will scale back on the frequency of the consolations in order to enable to the soul to begin taking more delight in Him rather than in the gifts He gives; it tests the soul’s resolve and also gives it more occasions to make acts of charity which are far more pleasing to God.

   Unfortunately, many souls do not get this far and become alarmed when their initial fervor is lost and the consolations disappear. Instead of continuing on the straight path, and thinking God has abandoned them, they may inadvertently turn to things that feed the emotions in order to regain some sense of the consolations they once had.

   In fact, a certain expectation (and it can be very subtle) begins to set in that this is the purpose and function of divine worship: how often nowadays is Mass attended with the intent to leave feeling personally affirmed and good about oneself.

   Since the manifestations of the charismatic gifts are sensible to a large degree, it is easy to try seeking consolations in them. This really is not any different than when the crowd asked our Lord to show them a sign and our Lord retorted saying Perverse generation that seeks a sign.

   The first thought of our spiritual life should always be God’s glory, not our own consolation and progress, and in so doing we actually serve our interests better because God will not lead us astray.

   For good reason, then, has the Church always commanded great caution when it comes to the presence and operation of the charismatic gifts because, in general, they are often sought for the wrong reasons, out of curiosity, or because their manifestations can actually be false, either as a product of an emotional or psychological frenzy or arising from the demonic.

   (Part IV 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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