Traditional Catholicism and the Charismatic Movement

There is a world of difference between a solemn Tridentine Mass and a charismatic mass.  Many of my friends are charismatic and may not like what I am writing.  Let us put our emotions aside and look at this honestly.  I believe in contemplative catholicism.  That means a deep mystical union with God interiorly when God initiates this loving union.  In this faith experience there may be no feelings what so ever.  As St. John of the Cross describes it “Nada or Nothing”.
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 St. Theresa of Avila also talks about contemplation as a gift of an interior experience of God.  We can only prepare our souls for this gift by emptying out their lives of all that displeases God (sin) and emptying of self in silence. 

When I was young in Aptos California where I was raised, some of my friends were charismatics.  They invited me to come to the “Life in the Spirit” seminar.  At this time I was a cafeteria catholic.  I went faithfully to the 12 week series.  At the end they prayed over me to receive the gift of tongues (Glossolaly).  Nothing happened and I was told to start babbling.  That would help it begin. In those days I was a real people pleaser so I tried but nothing happened.  In preparation for the last day of the seminar we were told to go to confession which helped me think of sin as being sin.  Going to the prayer group was helpful in that I belonged to a group of people who were trying to be holy.    I also began reading the Bible again.

But what bothered me was that in the prayer group with the singing and fellowship my emotions would be fed and God was an emotional experience.  But then all week long I would also feel like God was not around because I did not experience Him emotionally.  When people prayed in tongues it scared me at times.  But you were told that that was a gift from God.  Also one of my very good friends in the group had cancer and they prayed for her.  Then they said it was gone, thanks to prayer.  She later died of cancer.  When you are young you think a lot and wonder why they were so sure she was cured.

People in the charismatic movement are wonderful people looking for God and trying to please Him.  They are very involved in helping at their parishes.  They study the Bible and pray.  But there are great dangers in this movement.  Mother Angelica came out of the charismatic movement.
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 Look at all the good she has done.  She is one of my heroes.  But you notice how Mother Angelica over time has become more and more conservative in her habit and her way of having the Holy Mass celebrated on EWTN with latin and solemnly.  I deeply believe if Mother Angelica had not had the stroke, she would be promoting only the Tridentine mass now.  My dream is to start a traditional catholic TV station with just the Tridentine mass and traditional programs.  Please pray for this to happen some day.

First I want to say that the charismatic movement was never part of the Catholic faith before 1967.  The gift of tongues as explained in the Bible was a unique gift for the beginning of conversion only in places where many languages were spoken.  Look this up in the Catholic Encyclopedia at New Advent under Gift of Tongues and see what it says.  A few saints had this gift like St. Francis Xavier and St. Vincent Ferrer.

It all began with Pentecostal Protestants in 1901.  Some put it a little earlier.  Then in 1967 at the catholic university of Duquesne, a protestant minister prayed over some catholic young men and teachers and some receive what they called the gifts of the Holy spirit.  From there it spread all over the catholic world.  I remember well how many good catholics became protestant at this time, and mostly pentecostal.  If you do not believe me ask your friends from the 70’s or do google research on this whole issue.

I am not trying to put down charismatic catholics.  I am trying to say that this is a protestant movement in the catholic church.  Again there are good charismatic people doing good things.  The protestant churches are full people studying the Bible and doing good things.  But that is not catholic.

I want to compare a charismatic mass with the Holy Latin Mass.  I have done many charismatic masses, I know what I am talking about.  In the charismatic healing mass you have a band with a choir up front and many times in the sanctuary.  The music is very emotional and everyone participates in the singing with their hands lifted up in praise and clapping.  Many times they pray over people to get well or so that they will fall down and be slain in the spirit.  I once was pushed and pushed so hard to fall over.  I resisted a long time than just to get them to stop I went down.  Again pleasing people rather than God.  

The Tridentine mass is reverent and the music is celestial.  People sing the entrance hymn and Credo and Pater Noster but it is not the same kind of emotional experience.  Yes you feel God’s presence in the schola and the soul lifting organ music, but it is on a more intellectual level.  The “active participation” is on a more internal level.  So most catholics do not like the Tridentine mass because it is not an emotional experience with everyone singing along with the band, holding hands and clapping.  There is nothing wrong with emotional experiences, but the Sacrifice on Calvary is not the place for an emotional high.  That should be in the hall with music and prayer.  But I do not believe in the laying on of hands by lay people and exorcisms by lay people and prophesying the future or talking in tongues.

Many people have converted and become better people because of their experience in the charismatic movement.  But many people have converted and changed their moral lives by being involved in the Jehovah’s Witnesses too.

We need basic contemplative experiences that the saints talk about.  It is Catholic.