Sacred Heart

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

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A Reasoned Critique of the Gnostic Charismatic Movement

Charismania Part IV: "Tongues"


   Before getting into our article today, I warmly encourage all of our parishioners to dispose their souls for the beautiful, if challenging, penitential season of Lent. Ash Wednesday falls this week; let us remember that the ashes will do us no good if in our hearts we are not resolved to fight against sin, reform our lives, live our Catholicism better and love God and neighbor more.

   The following is part 4 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.

   [Note: Last week, the priest explained that the Church cautions souls against being greedy for extraordinary, truly charismatic gifts, because they can be sought for reasons such as vanity or curiosity, or because their manifestations could be false, or because their origins could be other than God.]

   One such example of this, which is quite characteristic of revivals, is the apparent speaking in tongues. While remembering that charismatic gifts are always for the spiritual benefit of another soul, and in recalling how this gift of tongues was manifested in the Apostles on Pentecost, we get a clear sense of what this gift entails. When the Apostles, filled with the Holy Ghost and confirmed in grace, emerged from the upper room and stood before the crowd of various nationalities, they began preaching the Faith and each person heard them in his or her own language.

   In other words, for the benefit of a person listening, the Apostles, although speaking one intelligible language, were understood by another person in his own intelligible language so that he could understand the truths of the Faith which are necessary for salvation. The gift was not for any other purpose but that; the Apostles were not announcing their favorite colors nor their top picks for the local father-son tag-team chariot semi-final races later that week.

   Although not in this instance, the gift of tongues can also be manifested by way of a person speaking a language they have no knowledge of, but once again, for the instruction of another in that language in matters pertaining to the Faith.

   Therefore, speaking in tongues, if it is authentic, is never under the form of unintelligible gibberish claimed as adoration or praise of God, which is what usually happens at charismatic revivals. The gift of tongues deals with intelligible languages, meaning the language possesses an order by which it can be known and understood.

   Aside, then, from the fact that gibberish draws attention upon the person who is speaking, first of all, by giving us an intellect and will, God desires from His rational creation intelligent and volitional worship; unintelligible gibberish completely fails in this regard. Secondly, there is no purpose to it, no instruction is being given to another; nor is there any place for the gift of interpretation of the tongue because that gift is to make sure what is being taught is understood in the correct way (in other words, the gift of interpretation is a protection from the Spirit of Truth against heresy). And furthermore, we must beware that the demonic can influence a person to speak a language he or she does not know, and this can easily happen to people who desire to possess these gifts.

   Hence why this gift must always be connected with the expounding and instruction of the Faith, and if conditions are otherwise, the gift is not from God nor is it authentic. It should be obvious, then, why the Church’s scrutiny and judgment in these matters is of great importance and why a silence by Church authority amounts to a tacit approval which can lead many souls astray.

   (Part V, the last part, 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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