Monday, June 02, 2008

Charismatics and the Devil

I admit it, I am suspicious of anything that connects God and a handheld miocrophone.
I had the Catholic Times on the phone this morning to ask what I meant by saying,
“I really am beginning to think that the Charismatic movement is of not of God, but of the Devil.”
I told him to read what I had said in context.

Charism means Grace, I am certainly do not think the movement of Grace comes from the Devil, that would be nonsensical. However as we heard in the Gospel yesterday we have to be wary of those who claim to cast out demons or heal or work miracles in the Lord’s name. What matters to the Lord is not the spectacular action but that our house is built on the Rock, on Petros.

As Catholics we should be sceptical about healings, miracles, visions or strange insights, much to be preferred are gifts like faith, hope and charity. Better to have in one’s parish two or three strong families, than two or three hundred speakers in tongues. St Theresa of Avila tells her novices if they experience such strange things, they should pray to be delivered from them. My own experience as a Pastor is that new converts and those in the first stages of the spiritual life often experience the extra-ordinary, sometimes it seems as if God is giving encouragement, almost saying, “Yes, pray, being close to me is good, carry on”, invariably such experiences prepare one for a painful period excruciating aridity and the Cross. But at other times it can be the beginning of spiritual shipwreck, were the gift becomes more important than the Giver.

Where charismata lead us to greater loyalty to Peter and the Magisterium and to sacraments, to devotion, to asceticism, when they lead to a deeper valuing of those things which have been handed on from the Apostles and the Saints it possible these things come from God, but we should be sceptical. It is after all God we desire, we should be very cautious about treating God as the granter of wishes, we belong to the Catholic Church, not a Cargo Cult.

If you want to ask for anything from the Lord, be courageous enough to ask for a share in his Cross and suffering, so you might truly share in his resurrection.


Hilary said...

Something that disturbed me very much when I spoke to some Charistmatic "Catholics" about their little deliverance ministry. They were allowed to carry on in the diocese of Halifax (Nova Scotia) without any clerical supervision and they had taken it upon themselves to identify and "treat" cases of spiritual possession.

When I pointed out that the law of the Church required that exorcisms only be carried out by a priest with the permission of the bishop, I was told this was just a bunch of "Church bull----" and that since they had the Holy Spirit, there was no longer any need to follow such things.

I got out of there quick.

Jackie Parkes said...

Any update on Medjugorje that you know of Fr?

GOR said...

Your mention of St. Teresa of Avila is very apropos in this regard, Father. She and other mystics, like St. John of the Cross, consistently warned against being too quick to believe that one has been given special gifts or powers. In their own lives they were always afraid that what they were experiencing might be from the Devil, not God. And they were saints!

People are altogether too credulous and gullible these days - as viewing one of those odious 'healing services' performed by televangelists here in the US demonstrates.

The Devil is always at work and is only too willing to turn religion against would-be believers. Of course people are too dismissive of the Devil, thinking that he is just a 'fairy story'. But that is when he is most effective - when people don't believe in him...

gemoftheocean said...

Terrific post, Father. I've long felt that the charismatics (maybe not all but a good many) border on gnosticism.

Ditto the ones who say (they tend to be protestants) "I just asked Jesus for X and I got it." I always think "what if one day He doesn't give you X, then what?"

Personally I find it hard to pray for things for myself, but the one prayer I can say for myself is "Lord, help me deal with what comes."

Fr. Dwight Longenecker said...

I'm reminded of our gospel for last Sunday: "Those who say, Lord! Lord! We have cast out demons in your name. We have done mighty deeds in your name! and I will say , "Depart from me you wicked."

Henry said...

The routine sacraments of the church should be enough to be getting on with. Surely they are supernatural enough for anyone? How much more supernatural do you want them to be?

Piglet said...

Don't tar all with one brush. Pope John Paul II himself claimed to be a charismatic at a world-wide gathering of charismatics. He clearly meant that all Catholics are givent he gifts of the Holy Spirit - and all the gifts too. Among charismatice, just as in liberals and right-wingers, there's good and bad. Do we not believe that the same Holy Spirit who converts bread and wine into the body, blood, soul & divinity of Jesus Christ is given us at baptism and afterwards? Surely, if this is the case, casting out a few demons aint so surprising! Cool it, bro .... take a chill pill for goodness sake.

Angelo said...

The Greek philosopher Plato (429-347 B.C.) could well have been speaking of Charismatics of our day when he examined the effects of intense religious healing on the minds of its adherents and found that among most there was a transient and temporary altered state of consciousness and impaired judgment which rendered worshippers vulnerable to psychosomatic manipulation. In his magnum opus Phaedrus and Timaeus, Plato wrote about those who were engaged in prayer associated with prophecy and interior locutions. According to Plato, they were possessed and out of their minds. Some of these religious exercises, he said, even brought physical healing to the worshippers. He further observed that persons who participate in such worship and receive private revelation, often accompanied by prophecy, vision or healing are demented or possessed. Hence, there is an acute need for Catholics to exercise vigilance in regards to arbitrary Charismatic claims that certain people have the gift of healing.

Michael Mary said...

We have to remember that Charismatisism as practised in the Catholic Church, has it's origins in Protestantism. Anyone who knows the origins of that movement know that there was the bizarre aberration of Catholic Priests and Religious, as well as laity, going to Protestant ministers to receive the 'Baptism in the Holy Spirit' as if He wasn’t already available through the Church! I remember a very good priest telling me a story of the time he was invited to a charismatic shin dig. When Father politely declined he was told "but Father, you won't receive the Holy Spirit". The reply to that was "well, if I didn't receive the Holy Spirit at my Baptism, and if I didn't receive Him at my Confirmation & Ordination, then I'm not likely to receive Him now!"

I have a problem with is 'speaking in tongues'. When the Apostles spoke in tongues they spoke real, understandable languages so as to be able to spread the Gospel. How does speaking incoherent gibberish constitute speaking in tongues and how does it further the cause of the Gospel?

Both Pope Paul VI & John Paul II had to issue warnings to the movement to keep united to the Church's Hierarchy, as there is an inherent Protestant tendency to think that, as they have a direct connection to the Holy Spirit, they can bypass the Hierarchy which Christ Founded; after all, why bother with an intermediary when God speaks to you personally?

V said...

From the Immaculate Heart of Mary's Hermitage Report 1/6/08:

"The Daily Mail reported that the Vatican has rejected claims made by the six Bosnian ’seers’ that they have seen the Virgin Mary more than 40,000 times over the past 27
years. But now one of the most respected voices in the Roman Catholic church has accused the visionaries of perpetuating a ‘diabolical deceit’. Andrea Gemma, 77, a bishop and once the Vatican’s top exorcist, told a magazine in Italy: ‘In Medjugorje everything happens in function of money: Pilgrimages, lodging houses, sale of trinkets. ‘This whole sham is the work of the Devil. It is a scandal.’ He said the Vatican would soon crack down on the group."

The Daily Mail said:
"Today, the [Medjugorje] seers own smart houses with security gates and tennis courts and expensive cars. One is married to a former U.S. beauty queen."

Michael Petek said...

It seems to me that the error of Cessationism is galloping in the direction of this conversation.

I understand that, during the first years after the Reformation the Catholics used to polemicise by indicating that they had all the miracles and the Protestants had none: indeed the Reformation could have been expected to be vindicated by the manifestation of miracles and charismata within their congragations had it been of God.

The Reformers retorted that God no longer works charisms in this day and age, therefore those manifested in the Catholic Church must be of the Devil.

Cessationism is held today by the very anti-Catholic Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.

St Paul states in 1 Corinthians 12-14 that the faithful are to eagerly desire the spiritual gifts, though we are to set our hearts above all on faith hope and love, the greatest of these being love.

Such is not rocket science. But even that which comes from God can in principle be hijacked by the Devil. The only guarantee against this is full communion with Peter. Outside that communion even a fully constituted local church, with all seven Sacraments and all three degrees of Holy Order, can be shipwrecked, and is bound to be if God in His sovereign benevolence does not intervent to prevent it.

Terry Nelson said...

Excellent teaching.

Michael Petek said...

Michael Mary, I think you're overstating your case when you say that the charismatic movement has its origins in Protestantism. So does the hymn 'Amazing Grace' but that doesn't mean that it isn't also Catholic in its sentiments.

The essence of Protestantism is derogation from the hierarchical and sacramental communion of the Church and, in philosophy, the favouring of nominalism over the moderate realism of St Thomas.

It is not un-Catholic to hold that we have a direct relationship with God. Indeed each of us does, because God directly governs each creature in the orders of both grace and nature as Prima Causa, though He also uses secondary causes such as civil governments, the Church hierarchy and other creatures. In fact we cannot live in sacramental or hierarchical communion except through secondary causes in the supernatural order.

Angelo said...

John Wesley, a former minister of the Anglican Church, and his brother Charles are credited as founders of the Methodist sect, having separated themselves from the COE in 1734. John Wesley is considered the Father of Pentecostalism from which Charismatic Renewal derives its inspiration. According to prominent Catholic theologians & churchmen, the charismatic movement represents a serious threat to the Catholic Church because of its aberrant beliefs & practices. The late Rev. Dr. L. Rumble of Radio Replies recognized the movement as another heretical sect that Catholics must avoid. In a scathing criticism of the movement in 1974, Archbishop Dwyer of the United States stated, "We regard it bluntly as once of the most dangerous trends in the Church in our time, closely allied with other disruptive & divisive movements, threatening grave harm to unity & damage to countless souls." And Msgr. Ronald Knox, the renowned Catholic convert & scholar referring to the charismatic practice os peaking in tongues stated, "To speak in tongues you had nevaer learned was & is a recognized symptom in alleged cases of diabolic possession.

Michael Petek said...

Angelo, it might be an idea for you to visit the website of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Service. Rumble, Dwyer and Knox weren't the Pope.

Paul V was, and so was John Paul II and is Benedict XVI after him. You can read their words about Charismatic Renewal at their website at:

The central office of ICCRS is inside Vatican City, so if the Holy Father tells them to do or not to something, and they don't want to obey, the Swiss Guards could make them!

Ottaviani said...

Michael Mary is right.

The so-called "Catholic" Charismatic Renewal was born in Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University in 1967, by students exposing themselves to Pentecostal services and trying to mix it with Catholicism. It has nothing to do with their claim, that the Holy Spirit is inspiring a return to the olden age of the apostles (which they would claim is through them).

Talking to so of them, I got the impression that they sincerely held, that the Catholic church has lost it's contact with the third person of the Trinity and that Protestantism was simply trying to preserve this patrimony. Their emphasis on "Baptism of the Spirit" is very suspicious to say the least, as they try to equate it with the sacrament of Baptism.

But their main fall-over is that they always operate under the false assumption that emotional experience always accompanies the conferral of grace. They do not ever seem to think, for one moment, that the devil can work manifestations too.

I came across a blog which exposes them here. It's done by someone, who used to be part of that group.

Michael Petek said...

I'm not impressed by your posting, Ottaviani, nor by the blog you link to.

Before you can establish something as a heresy you must first identify one or more articles of divine and catholic faith it denies or doubts. And you also have to take into account the fact that many who participate in charismatic renewal aren't rocket scientists in theology, so you have to allow for a mistake or two here and there.

Ottaviani said...

I'm not impressed by your posting, Ottaviani, nor by the blog you link to.

And I am not necessarily impressed by your postings either but at least I take the time to consider it and reply back.

The link I posted to is from the perspective of someone who has been inside the movement and then came out. I do not advocate that everything he/she says is correct, but it's a perspective that we shouldn't torpedo just because we may not like it.

Much of the thinking of the CCR is slanted towards Protestantism - the tendency to minimise devotion to Our Lady and the Saints (or those that do accept it, always promote dubious visionaries or apparitions like Medjugorje) is just one example.

And I did not say that everyone should be a Thomas Aquinas in theology, but certainly the inspirations of the CCR, is not grounded in the traditional theology of the church but was founded as an offshoot of typically evangelical thinking in the late 1960s. Even the prominent leaders and members of the CCR admit this.

bernadette said...

Otto - where has the Church stated that the Medjugorje visionaries are dubious ? I have not seen it. The three I have met and spoken to are among the most humble souls you could ever meet this side of heaven.

As far as I understand, the apparitions are being observed by The Vatican (having been removed from the Bishop of Mostar's discernment, as he seems to have already made his mind up.) Satan will always attack what is holy and of God. We must remain open to what the Church decides on this matter.

I returned from Medjugorje myself on Monday this week. What did I see ? queues and queues of people, mostly under the age of thirty, waiting for up to two hours at a time for the Sacrament of Confession. Every confessional box full, with priests sitting out in the open hearing confessions until 10pm. People praying the Rosary with real devotion, people climbing Krizevac Hill to pray The Stations of the Cross and join their sufferings with those of Jesus, Adoration of The Eucharist that enters into a level of worship I have rarely seen; and homily preaching of which St John Chrysostom would have been proud. The group that I returned home with underwent a profound conversion and a renewed determination to be immersed in the Sacramental life of the Church in a deeper way. The roasry in my family prayer has taken on a deeper and more meaningful significance and I have a greater desire to go to weekday Mass more often.

This is not dubious, Ottoviani. This is our faith. It is alive. The fruit is good. And after twenty seven years, I believe it is, and will continue, to change the world.

Do not believe everything written in The Daily Mail. I often find the fruit there quite rotten. It is much easier to dismiss Medjugorje than to accept it. Because to accept it means to accept the cross and to accept an often painful but joyful conversion. And most of us, understandably, will choose to avoid that particular kind of heart surgery if at all possible.

Our Mother is simply calling us to a deeper conversion, that`s all. Nothing dubious about that.

Michael Petek said...

The only generalisation that can be made about CCR, Ottaviani, is that it claims to be rooted in the common patrimony of Catholics and Protestants as an actual grace tied to baptism.

As such it matters not that it was first historically manifested among Protestants; what is important that it properly belongs with baptism to the Catholic Church.

What distinguishes Protestantism is its aversion to the sacramental order of the Church centred on the Eucharist and to her hierarchical communion centred on the Holy Father.

This is not a characteristic of CCR. It has of itself little or no doctrinal content and tends to presuppose the truth of the particular doctrines and usages of the congregations in which it is from time to time manifested.

I should know, as I have been involved in it for some years and not come out of it. I should also know that it is possible to assimilate CCR to a Catholic world view and to a full sacramental life, and if I don't know it now I never will.

Angelo said...

One reason for questioning the events at Medjugorje is that they are strikingly unlike all previous Marian apparitions. Which other apparitions have gone on almost daily for over 20 years? It leads one to wonder what Our Lady could have found to say that needed some 26,000 appearances! Medjugorje supporters point to devotional & spiritual impact of both villagers & pilgrims. However welcome this is, we should remember that it is not in itself any guarantee of holiness or even orthodoxy, let alone evidence that the apparitions are authentic. The Church's history shows numerous cases of heretical groups noteworthy for intense devotions, prayer & fasting (the Fraticelli of the 13th century, for example). And the frequent practice of "laying on of hands" and "the baptism of the spirit" suggests that the "holiness explosion" claimed for Medjugorje is very much charismatic.

Medjugorje weakens authority in the Church by its resistance to the legitimate church authority, by its partisan espousal of the cause of the dissident Franciscans in their quarrel with the diocese. It could even be argued that the long durations of the phenomenon constitutes an incipient "alternative magisterium", a Teaching Church for our guidance if "Our Lady" is to appear daily to give us our instructions direct from Heaven.

Ottaviani said...


The CCR does have it's own theology concerning the whole Baptism of Spirit. Are Catholics not meant to have received the Holy Spirit in his fullness, at the sacrament of Baptism? I was consistently told by members of the CCR that I needed to get "baptised in the Holy Spirit".

The church fathers (St. John Chrysostom, Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus, etc) are quite clear that the gift of tongues was:

1. A sign to unbelievers, Jews in particular. The gift of tongues died out, when the persecution of the early church ceased and she did not need to rely on signs and wonders to establish herself.

2. Tongues was always an intelligible language and not the gibberish that is exhibited in the charismatic gatherings, be it Protestant or "Catholic".

3. There was always an interpreter on site, to interpret what was said by the person. St Paul says if there is not such a person with this gift, then the person speaking tongues should keep quiet. One only has to go to any CCR gathering and see that 99.9% of the time, this is never the case.

We are meant to have a faith based on reason, not a constant need to see miracles and wonders happen before our eyes. The emphasis placed by the CCR on the latter is huge however.

bernadette said...

This conversation with my son has been taking place for nearly twelve years : Please, please, take your plate to the kitchen after your meal. Please please, brush your teeth at night and in the morning, please, please, put your dirty laundry out for the wash each night. Please, please, pick up your rosary and join us this evening, please, please, come with me to evening Mass this wednesday night, please, please, keep your room tidy, please please.. (OK, you get the idea).

He is STARTING to listen. Alleluia.

You`re right.

These apparitions are different. They`re more urgent.

bernadette said...

Angelo, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has heard confessions at Medugorje. on TWO visits. It was he who reported back to Pope JP11 of it`s fruits. Let`s keep our powder dry until he denounces it. He would have done so by now.

Michael Petek said...

Correction, angelo. The dispute between the diocesan authorities the Franciscans has nothing to do with the priests who run the parish of Medjugorje.

In fact the Bishop is on record as havng stated that he is pleased with their service and their disobedience.

The opposition of the diocesan authorities to the appaitions seems to be connected with the cases of Fathers Vego and Prusina whom the late Bishop Zanic hounded out of ther priesthood. They took their case to the Apostolic Signatura and, after long years of delay, they won.

Michael Petek said...

Sorry about that!

I should have said:

"In fact the Bishop is on record as havng stated that he is pleased with their service and their obedience.

Angelo said...

Vatican denounces group's claim of seeing the Virgin Mary more than 40,000 times as 'work of the devil'

The Vatican has denounced a group who claim to have seen the Virgin Mary more than 40,000 times in the past 27 years.

The six Bosnian 'seers' attract five million pilgrims a year to their home town of Medjugorje, providing a lucrative trade for local businesses.

Hundreds of thousands travel there each year from Britain alone.

But now one of the most respected voices in the Roman Catholic church has accused the visionaries of perpetuating a 'diabolical deceit'.
Andrea Gemma, 77, a bishop and once the Vatican's top exorcist, told a magazine in Italy: 'In Medjugorje everything happens in function of money: Pilgrimages, lodging houses, sale of trinkets.
'This whole sham is the work of the Devil. It is a scandal.' He said the Vatican would soon crack down on the group.

The Medjugorje phenomenon began on June 25, 1981, when six children told a priest they had seen the Virgin on a hillside near their town.

A church investigation dismissed the vision, and the Vatican banned pilgrimages to the site in 1985. But many Catholics ignored the ban.

Today, the seers own smart houses with security gates and tennis courts and expensive cars. One is married to a former U.S. beauty queen.

Catholic officials in the U.S. have recently banned the group from speaking on church property during their world tours, on which they allegedly take the Virgin with them.

News source: Daily Mail Reporter

Michael Petek said...

Angelo, Bishop Gemma's comments are a bit of a sweeping statement.

First, Bishop Gemma holds no office at the Vatican, as he's retired.

Furthermore, his preoccupation with the apparent wealth of the visionaries could equally be made in regard to Fatima.

The fact that an alleged visionary is well to do should not of itself give cause for concern if he is married with a family, unless the facts indicate simony.

Soliciting or receiving money in consideration for God's spiritual gift is simony. Earning money from human work or the rental of property is legitimate, and so is receiving money donated for the upkeep of the Christian apostolate for the benefit of third parties who are not to be charged for it.

Marrying a former beauty queen is not in itself suspect. Marrying her and then being unfaithful to her would be more than a little so.

Ottaviani, the Church Fathers weren't right on everything. John Chrysostom was deeply antisemitic: he said in one of his sermons that, since God hates the Jews it is the duty of Christians to hate them too. I cannot understand how he became canonised except in terms that he taught as he did because his superiors in the Church did not correct him.

James Parkes called his writing on Jews "the most horrible and violent denunciations of Judaism to be found in the writings of a Christian theologian". His sermons against Jews gave momentum to the idea that Jews are collectively responsible for the death of Jesus.

The ancient charge of deicide seems to presuppose that it would have been better for the Church and all mankind if Christ had not gone to the Cross to make atonement for sin, and seems to concur with Peter's admonishment to Jesus: "God forbid, Lord! This must never happen to you!"

To which the correct reply is: "Get behind me, Satan!"

After John Chrysostom's death the Emperor Theodosius promulgated a law code which subjected the Jews to a regime of degradation and debasement which was later taken up by the Muslims in almost identical form and imposed by them on Christians and Jews together as dhimmis.

Dare we venture that the rise of Islam and the imposition of Islamic rule on erstwhile Christian lands are a just punishment from God for our mistreatment of our elder brethren the Jews?

I was thinking about charismatic renewal just yesterday evening, and about why the charismata should be manifested in our day.

There's an excellent book on the market by Clifford Hill and others, called "Blessing the Church?" I know Clifford very well. He and his team are Evangelical Christians who believe that the charismata are indeed from God. They write that things went wrong in about 1990 when John Wimber brought the Kansas City Prophets over to Docklands in London and convinced many Christians that revival was imminent.

Clifford spent the 1990s insisting that revival cannot come without costly repentance, but - like Cassandra - he was ignored. The triumphalist teaching of the Latter Rain movement began to seduce many charismatic Christians, even though LR had been branded as heretical by the Assemblies of God as early as 1948.

At the same time the pastors of the Catholic Church were not giving the clear teaching they should have been giving concerning the end times. I had to look for it myself and found it only in Ludwig Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma.

Roses and Jessamine said...

I haven't read The Golden Mouth's "Five Ways of Repentance" but I'd like to.

The saints were human and vulnerable. They made mistakes too, just like us. They didn't pretend to be perfect or to know everything. That's what makes them so approachable and lovable.

I feel uneasy about any Rev. Minister (Clifford Hill) who thinks it necessary to put "MA BD PhD" after his name. What, vocation not enough?

St John Chrysostom was a lawyer before his conversion and path to sainthood. There's hope for everyone yet.