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Rico wrote:

Hi, guys —

Over the years I have had many opportunities to be around Protestant Pentecostal and Charismatic groups. Over the last seven years, I have belonged to such groups although, as you know, as of December 25, 2011, I have come home to Rome.

Just before I left the Protestant world, due to some studying and some observations on various practices by such groups, I began to change my views on many things.

  • For example, why is it that only the "fakeable" gifts are prominent and preeminent in Pentecostal circles? (Tongues, Interpretation, Prophecy, Word of Knowledge, etc.)

These can be found everywhere. I don't believe they are real, but they do.

  • Where are the gifts that can't be faked? (Miracles, healings, wonders, and signs)

Anybody looking in from the outside would see the obvious pattern.

I am curious to know what the official teaching is on this topic from the Church, Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium. For example, from personal study I know that "tongues" always refers to a spoken language and not to gibberish. Ecstatic speech is nothing new in life and from everything
I have read and studying, going back to the original languages (tongues), the New Testament references to this gift, only attribute one essential meaning to it.

The downside to the use of these "fakeable" gifts is, in these circles, you have people running around basing their faith on experience instead of on the truth as revealed in His Word and by
His Church. I will believe anything taught by the Church and, if I have to change my views,
I will be able to do so, knowing I am covered by the anointing through the Apostolic Succession.

I have not been able to find an official statement on these things and I covet your input.
In Pentecostal circles, it gets way out of hand. People pray in gibberish in large groups; they
say they are prophets and say terrible things to people — One such "prophetess" told my wife she was going to die in March if we didn't leave Jamaica before that! People run around thinking they are under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and all sorts of excesses, including deceptions, occur in the name of God.

As we all know, one of the main dangers and downfalls of Protestant Christianity is "private" interpretations of which Pentecostal churches have many. As an active full-time servant of God,
I am responsible, as I minister to my people, to make sure I teach the truth. Hence my questions.

I look forward to hearing from you soon. Blessings on all of you in Jesus' name.


  { What are the official Church teachings on Charismatic issues and the charismatic gifts? }

John replied:


Good to hear from you again.

The Church acknowledges all the Charismatic gifts including tongues, prophecy etc., but these gifts aren't meant to be used in the Liturgy.

Like any thing else, they can be abused and that's precisely what happened in the Church in the late second century. There was a man by the name of Montanus. He so embraced these gifts,
in particular prophecy, that he rejected Church Tradition and, of course Scripture, although we didn't have a canon at that point. He and his prophetesses went about the countryside claiming to be as authoritative as the Magisterium, teaching that everyone else should seek this experience. So we had a situation where, the gift was made to be more important that the gift giver and,
in essence, these people were committing idolatry.

At the same time, some of the converts coming in to the Church were now coming from high society, so anything like tongues, which they couldn't define rationally, was beneath them.

For this reason, the Church had to deal with Montanus and Montanism, the heresy named after him. It basically did all it could to squash the phenomenal gifts, which often times accompanied the Sacrament of Confirmation. When the confirmed would start speaking in tongues, the bishop would let him go on for a few seconds and then slap him. Centuries later, this slap was attributed to the willingness of the confirmed to suffer for Christ.

For centuries the Church down played these gifts but they've always been with us. Throughout the ages, we hear stories of various saints praying ecstatically.

To your question, tongues and prophecy are very common gifts. Tongues is simply a form of prayer; it is not a known language. That is not the proper translation of the Greek word Glosolia.
It means utterance. The Greek word for languages is Dialectos where we get the word dialect.

St. Paul makes it clear in his First Letter to Corinthians that tongues are unintelligible utterances. He goes on to say that when we pray in tongues, which he also calls praying in the Spirit, we edify ourselves. This is entirely different than the public prophetic use of the gift which requires an interpretation. The personal use of tongues is simply prayer. As Paul writes to the Romans,
"we don't know how to pray, so the Holy Spirit prays for us with groans that we can't understand." (Romans 8:26) Tongues is just an indication that communication is happening. It's like the noise a fax machine or a modem makes. It's unintelligible, but data is being transmitted. Again, when St. Paul writes to the Corinthians, he says,

"when we pray in tongues, we edify ourselves." (1 Corinthians 14:4)

  • What does this mean?

Well, in my studies and personal experience, it means that the information we've absorbed in the head travels to the heart. The Word which we read in Scriptures as Logos, becomes Rhema.
The written Word, becomes the revealed Word in our heart. As you know, having studied some Greek, there are two words for Word — one is Logos, and the other is Rhema. When Paul writes to the Romans, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17), Paul uses the word Rhema here. It is only when the written word becomes Revelation to us, that we can believe in our heart, what we confess with our mouth.

Otherwise faith becomes a simple mental assent or mental submission. Faith and reason work together, but faith transcends reason. Reason alone is not sufficient; it takes Revelation and Revelation must become personal. The Logos must become Rhema. The gift of tongues, and its use, facilitates this process.

While everyone doesn't exercise this gift, it is available to all. We all receive the entire package of gifts when we receive the Holy Spirit at Confirmation, also known as Chrismation. We may never release them or use them but they are there and include the other gifts you mentioned in your question: healing, interpretation of tongues, prophecy, and word of knowledge. The difference is that certain gifts, such as healing, are not for common use. Even Jesus didn't heal everyone, every time. Today's Gospel makes it clear. When Jesus was at Peter's house, he healed his mother-in-law. Then word got out and everyone filled the house with sick people. The Gospel, then, goes on to say, many were healed, not everyone or all were healed. So the gift of healing is very much dependent on the will of God and requires obedience on the part of the Christian to pray for the person who is sick when the Holy Spirit calls him to do so.

I've seen a blind woman regain her sight. I was delivered and healed of ten years of cocaine addiction. Healing still happens and God uses Christians to administer the gift. The normative way the gift is administered is through the Sacrament of Healing called the Anointing of the Sick.

Now for the most part, the Charismatic gifts in the Catholic Church are found in the Charismatic Renewal. Some people would like to water it down to a simple spirituality or devotion. That's really not the case. The word charismatic means gifted. The whole Church is gifted and charismatic by definition.

When we are confirmed we receive the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit that I receive, my brother in Christ, Mike received. He prays in tongues without knowing it; it's called the Rosary. When you pray the Rosary, you don't focus on the words coming out of your mouth, you focus and contemplate on the mystery of the Gospel for that particular decade of the Rosary. When one really enters into the meditation, it is our Lady, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, who leads us into the mystery we contemplate. Well, it's the same think with tongues. When I pray in tongues,
I don't have a focus and couldn't tell you what syllable just came out of my mouth. The Holy Spirit leads me in prayer. My mind and heart are opened up to Scripture passages, or I may get an answer to a question, or the Lord may show me another aspect of something I though I knew.
It's my spirit or soul led by the Holy Spirit, Spouse of Our Lady, in prayer and contemplation.

The reason we don't see more of these gifts being used by more Catholics, is simply because there has been no teaching about them. For centuries, they've been ignored but they've never ceased. Though they don't belong in the Liturgy, they are still meant to strengthen the Body of Christ and each member of the Body; and the Church acknowledges that they are still present to this day.

  • Are there excesses and "faked" experiences? <Yes.>

The weeds grow next to wheat in the Kingdom of God. Just because there are phonies and fakers, doesn't mean the real thing doesn't exist. And again, we must be careful not to go chasing gifts for the sake of chasing gifts.

That's idolatry.


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