So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

"I'm charismatic! Are you?" "What do you mean?"

Ok, before anyone gets their knickers in a knot, this blogger is well aware that the charismatic renewal in Catholic circles began more than a few years ago and that the CR is generally accepted by bishops.

It is the contention of this blogger that the most charismatic experience one can possibly have in this life is an encounter with the living God in the Holy Eucharist. There is none more charismatic—i.e., gifted by the Holy Spirit to recognize the Real Presence of Jesus, i.e., Jesus' Body and Blood, the Holy Eucharist—than the person who truly and deeply encounters Christ at the heart of His Church, kneeling before His altar awaiting His return, witnessing His return ("This is my Body... this is my Blood... behold the Lamb of God... .) and then receiving His Body and Blood in Holy Communion. Is that not the better part?

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament provides the Catholic with another blessed window into eternity. Being in the Presence of the Lord, kneeling before Him Who created heaven and earth, is a foretaste of hoped-for glory.

The true charismatic is consumed by the love for Jesus Christ and His Church. That consuming love is a gift of the Holy Spirit. The true charismatic desires to serve the Lord and His Church and those in most need of God's mercy.

Manufactured High?

Speaking in tongues (glossolalia)? Perhaps emotions, running high, make people think they are "charismatic", i.e., filled by the Spirit and enabled to speak in "tongues", when in fact they are more likely and merely overcome with emotion. Anyone who has inhabited charismatic circles, protestant and/or Catholic, knows that it is not uncommon to witness people descend into highly emotional and occasionally bizarre experiences (e.g., people barking like dogs) that could hardly be said to witness to the Lord. Quite the opposite, really. In the midst of the parroting of cloned fragmented passages (meaningless repetition à la St Matthew 6:7?) or the mumbling of prolonged vowels, and at times even hissing or shrieking, one invariably observes that others present in the congregation are not comfortable with what they are witnessing. Much sinful pride and spiritual narcissism (or is that spiritual hedonism?) manifests among such gatherings, much as the sin of pride all too frequently manifests among the neo-gnostics who practice some form of (questionable) "Christian meditation", a la John Main or Centering Prayer.

The gift of tongues manifests as intelligible language (xenoglossia), not gibberish!
Acts 2:1-11
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!
If someone claims to be speaking in the tongues of angels (1Cor 13:1), another form of glossolalia, remind them that angelic language, too, is coherent, not mere random gibberish. There is structure, and certainly a lyricism and/or force which commands the deepest part of the soul to pay attention to what is being "said". One must ask, however, what purpose does speaking in the tongues of angels, if indeed that is the case, serve? In other words, it may be useful, lest one be conned by some evil entity mimicking the holy angels of God, to be a bit of a skeptic concerning the behaviour of those who claim to speak in angelic tongues.
If any one thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord. If any one does not recognize this, he is not recognized. So, my brethren, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues; but all things should be done decently and in order.—1 Cor 14:37-38
Extraordinary graces neither trump order nor the legitimately authority of the Church. Sadly, in this blogger's experience, many in the various charismatic movements often project a sense that they are not answerable to anyone. Mind you, they are not alone in that misunderstanding. Liberal-progressives tend to be far less deferential to authority than most others. By definition almost, a "progressive" acts as if he or she is the canon against which all others must be measured.

The charismata, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, always serve a purpose: to instruct the ignorant (to bring them closer to Christ and His Church); and, to edify the faithful (to bring them closer to Christ and His Church). If the behaviour of those manifesting what are claimed to be charismatic gifts does not draw people to unity in Christ's true Church, then perhaps it is the wiser course to be suspicious of said behaviour.
The Greek term charisma denotes any good gift that flows from God's benevolent love (charis) unto man; any Divine grace or favour, ranging from redemption and life eternal to comfort in communing with brethren in the Faith (Romans 5:15, 16; 6:23; 11:29). The term has, however, a narrower meaning: the spiritual graces and qualifications granted to every Christian to perform his task in the Church: "Every one hath his proper gift [charisma] from God; one after this manner, and another after that" (1 Corinthians 7:7 etc.). Lastly, in its narrowest sense, charisma is the theological term for denoting extraordinary graces given to individual Christians for the good of others. These, or most of these, are enumerated by St. Paul (1 Corinthians 12:4, 9, 28, 30, 31), and form the subject-matter of the present article. They are: "The word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, the grace of healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, the discerning of spirits, diverse kinds of tongues, interpretation of speeches" (1 Corinthians 12:8-10). To these are added the charismata of apostles, prophets, doctors, helps, governments (ibid., 28).
These extraordinary gifts were foretold by the Prophet Joel (ii, 28) and promised to believers by Christ: "And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name they shall cast out devils: they shall speak with new tongues," etc. (Mark 16:17, 18). The Lord's promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4) at Jerusalem, and, as the Church spread, in Samaria (Acts 8:18), in Caesarea (x, 46), in Ephesus (xix, 6), in Rome (Romans 12:6), in Galatia (Galatians 3:5), and more markedly in Corinth (1 Corinthians 12:14). The abuses of the charismata, which had crept in at this latter place, induced St. Paul to discuss them at length in his First Epistle to the Corinthians. The Apostle teaches that these "spiritual things" emanate from the Spirit who quickens the body of the Church; that their functions are as diversified as the functions of the natural body; and that, though given to individuals, they are intended for the edification of the whole community (1 Corinthians 12).
Theologians distinguish the charismata from other graces which operate personal sanctification: they call the former gratiae gratis datae in opposition to the gratiae gratum facientes. The "gifts and fruits of the Holy Ghost", being given for personal sanctification, are not to be numbered among the charismata.—Catholic Encyclopedia.
The liturgical Christian is no less "charismatic" than the self described charismatic who claims to be gifted by the Holy Spirit. He is, if he be humble and docile to the Holy Spirit, more charismatic. The liturgical Christian is not prone to seeking merely the gift. No, he or she seeks the Giver, the Giver Who gives Himself—Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity—in the Holy Eucharist.

The Magisterium of the Catholic Church provides balance for those who experience the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Without the Magisterium, one could easily drift into an extreme position that ends in a "believer" following some strange course lacking charity.

Some charismatic groups go as far to say that one is not a Christian unless one has experienced (or currently experiences) a gift of the Holy Spirit. To some ways of thinking, unless one has experienced the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit", you are not a Christian. These same folk do not know that the Sacrament of Confirmation (Latin confirmare "make firm, strengthen, establish," from com-, intensive prefix, + firmare "to strengthen," from firmus "strong, steadfast") is precisely the giving of grace to the Christian to help him or her mature in the life of the Holy Spirit, the life of grace.

The Spirit gives different gifts to different people for different purposes. Those same groups who deny Christian status to Catholics regularly target Catholics for conversion (i.e., apostasy from the Catholic Church). Catholics, who typically do not have the background formation to address the charges made against the Church, are ripe for the picking.

A Church Father speaks.
For God hath set same in the Church, first apostles…secondly prophets…thirdly teachers…next mighty works, among which are the healing of diseases… and gifts of either speaking or interpreting divers kinds of tongues. Clearly these are the Church’s agents of ministry and work of whom the body of Christ consists; and God has ordained them.—Hilary of Poitiers, c.360
The Catholic Church, the community wherein the gifts of the Holy Spirit were first poured upon the Apostles at Pentecost, accepts the many gifts of the Holy Spirit and places them under the judgement of charity, for without charity, i.e., love,... .
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.—1 Cor 13:1
Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise prophesying, but test everything; hold fast what is good.—1 Thessalonians 5:19-21
An article from Catholic Exchange might shed further light on the Catholic position on the extraordinary graces of the Holy Spirit.
Regarding the gifts of Pentecost or the Spirit, the Church makes proper distinctions. In the Catechism, the Church states “grace is first and foremost the gift of the Spirit who justifies and sanctifies us” (Catechism, no. 2003). The Catechism goes on to say that graces are sacramental graces — gifts proper to the Sacraments — or special graces also called charisms, which in Greek refers to “gratuitous gifts.” These are the graces that the Church calls the extraordinary gifts of prophecy, tongues or others, but which are always at the service of sacramental grace and the common good of the Church. These gifts are at the service of charity, which St. Paul says builds up the Church (Catechism, nos. 79-801). [...]
If we look at the charismatic gifts in this light, we see that the movement of the Spirit works within the Church according to His will and according to the cooperation of the faithful. The Charismatic Renewal itself does not originate from a necessity to inform the Universal Church of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and her cooperation with them, but from a need among her members to better understand what these gifts are. At the same time, the movement recalls the subordination of the charismatic gifts to those gifts given through the sacraments — specifically, the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, as expressed in Isaiah 11:2-3 and given to each Christian at Baptism and enlivened at Confirmation (Catechism, nos. 1266, 1303).—Amy Barragree, Catholic Exchange

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