Thursday, June 23, 2011


One of the movements that seems almost to have taken over the Church is Pentacostalism or Charismaticism. In many parts of the world it seems to be the only “strain” of Catholicism on offer. In many parts of Asia and South America it is Catholicism, so too in our schools and parishes in many parts of our country.
Its music dominates liturgy, smothering anything “authentically” rooted in the Catholic tradition. Its style of shared prayer too seems to have taken hold of Catholic gatherings, ousting the Liturgy of the Hours or traditional devotions.

Healing services replace the sacraments, or push them to the sidelines. Private Revelation, especially through lay leaders seems to trump official Church teaching.

Its main consequence is however its effect on Catholic thought, especially in preaching and teaching, primarily because here it shows its Protestant roots, in that it puts forward a preference for personal experience over and against the Magisterium. In this it easily becomes both anti-historical and anti-intellectual, in short Catholic-lite. It seems to dominate our schools and catechesis partly because it is by nature “person centred”, and also because it is so easy for a partly formed teacher or catechist to put forward their own opinion as fact, rather than seek to understand and make their own two thousand years Catholic Tradition, a Tradition developed under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and authenticated by Christ’s promises to the Apostles.

In some parts of the world this movement has to some extent been Catholicised, it has placed Eucharistic Adoration and Marian devotion at its heart, slowly it is learning to put the Magisterium rather than “prophetic” lay leadership at its head.

In the United States new religious communities like the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal seem to be able to unite Catholicism and Charismaticism. The same can be said of Bishop Dominique Rey in the French diocese of Frejus-Toulon, who describes himself as a Traditionalist Charismatic and seems to have as many vocations as the rest of the French dioceses combined. At the moment he is organising a major conference in Rome on Eucharistic Adoration. See Fr Simon Henry’s blog for an account of what is happening.
Here in England Fr Alexander Sherbrooke seems to be doing amazing things at St Patrick’s Soho.

For the most part here though, Charismaticism seems to set itself up against the "institutional" or "heirarchic" Church. One is more likely to have a member of a alternative lay "heirarchy" speaking at a Charismatic conference than a bishop or even priest. Lay leaders tend to decide on readings or themes for liturgies rather than following the rubrics of the Church, often these rubrics are deliberately broken: the use of pottery vessels, of the minumum of vestments, a choice of a non-church environment for the celebration, the addition of made up rites, the disdain for "tradition" are not uncommon. Indeed I heard recently of a charismatic Catholic layman baptising an adult, without necessity, because the Spirit told him to.

It was most probably ever thus: it was certainly there at the Reformation. Today's ferial Gospel reading can be read as a conflict between Charismaticism and the Apostolic Church, which we see in Paul's writings too.

The Charismatics: those who prophesy, drive out demons etc in His name are unknown to him:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’
will enter the Kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
Many will say to me on that day,
‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name?
Did we not drive out demons in your name?
Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’
Then I will declare to them solemnly,
‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’
The Apostolic Church: A typological reading would see "the wise man" as Christ who built his house the Church on the Rock of Peter, by the time of writing of Matthew' Gospel, Solomon's Temple was seen as being built on sand and had been swept away. The Church in communion with the Rock, Peter, will stand firm until the end of time
“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them
will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.
And everyone who listens to these words of mine
but does not act on them
will be like a fool who built his house on sand.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”


Anonymous said...

Powerful words, Father, and it truly seems that things have gone too far with at least some Charismatics.

Perhaps it is time that Rome deals with the matter?

The dissent of a couple of feminists is bad enough but still ultimately harmless. The dissent becoming a mass movement is a real threat.


Conchúr said...

Excellent post, Father.

me said...

VATICAN CITY 05.05.09(Zenit) - Benedict XVI is wishing members of the charismatic renewal a revitalized closeness with the crucified and risen Christ.

The Pope said this in a telegram signed by his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and sent to the Italian chapter of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, who were gathered last weekend in their 32nd national assembly in Rimini, Italy.

Some 20,000 members were present, as was the president of the Italian bishops' conference, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco.

The Holy Father expressed his hopes for "an abundant outpouring of the fruits of the Paraclete" on the gathering.

He also noted his desire that the encounter would "enkindle a renewed adherence to the crucified and risen Christ, a deep fraternal communion and a joyous evangelical witness."

Cardinal Bagnasco gave the opening address, inviting the members to "continue being leaven and light in the building up of history and society."

Salvatore Martínez, president of the Italian Charismatic Renewal, said during the concluding address that the three-day national assembly aimed for "a renewed invitation to evangelization."

"We are ready to offer our service to God," he said. "We are a people that has found new vigor in the proclamation of the Gospel, in a world that needs a true spiritual renewal."

Kneeling Catholic said...

Thanks Father!

You make plain truth observations about the Charismatic movement's disdain of Tradition, and its overall smugness.

I am afraid that the papacy's embrace of the movement put's 'doubters', like myself, in no-man's-land.

It is possible to see examples where the Catholic Charismatic movement incorporates traditional devotions. (As you mention). e.g. Randy Raus of LifeTeen doesn't see kneeling for Communion as inimical.

In the long run I hope to see how traditional devotions and the Sacraments, per se, can become important to these modern movements.

RJ said...

The Charismatics I have encountered haven't, for the most part, been anti-hierarchical or disobedient or disdainful of tradition. It is ok for lay leaders to speak - dare I say preach - at non-liturgical meetings outside a church - as far as I can recall from canon law (I did research it for myself a few years ago). I think it's easy to assume that people who have a different charism from ourselves are disapproving of us when they are not. I'm not a charismatic myself but I have attended or observed their meetings in the past and they seem a healthy part of the Church. They may be naive but they are not infested with 'sophisticated' liberalism.

Tu es Petrus said...

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them
will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock."

And that 'rock', quite simply, is Peter.

Michael Petek said...

Well, I have to put my hands up to being a charismatic. But I challenge anyone to impugn my orthodoxy.

I don't think you're correct, Father, in characterising the movement as Protestant.

The distinguishing characteristics of Protestantism are nominalism in philosophy and the rejection of the sacrificial character of the Eucharist.

From my experience of the movement during the 1990s, I'd say that its greatest weakness has been its eschatological vision. There was, and I suspect there still is, a pre-occupation with the idea that revival is just around the corner.

In those days, while I was floundering around like a sheep without a shepherd, I had to do my own research that one of the things that must occur beore the end of the age is that Israel must recognise her Messiah as soon as the fullness of the Gentiles have come into the Kingdom. So there is an urgency to fulfil the Great Commission before that momentous event. That is what the charismatic gifts are for.

I only wish the Bishops had taught us so.

Bob Kovacs said...

I wonder how this type of worship will go with the new translation of the Roman Missal.

Sharon said...

Fr Cantalamessa, a charismatic, has been the Preacher to the Papal Household since 1980.

JARay said...

I must agree with you Father. I dabbled with the Charismatic movement several years ago and there was at that time a group of them who set themselves up as a mini community, buying property in and around a couple of streets. Over the years this community has disintegrated with all of the scandals that one can think of in modern society. I am so glad that I resisted their attempts to draw me into that community!
I am more than a little suspicious of the Charismatic movement these days and I would counsel anyone against having anything to do with them.

nickbris said...

Can't be a lot wrong with a whole lot of Christians enjoying themselves,must be better than a congregation who don't know what they are supposed to do during all the silent periods of the Ursus Antiquior.

Ignatius said...

Rather than simply dismissing Charismatics for not being properly Catholic, it might be more to the point to ask why the movement has become so successful and appealing to so many. Could it possibly be that people find more of God in Charismaticism than they do in orthodox Catholicism? Maybe God is bigger than our orthodoxies.

Fr G Dickson said...

I converted to the Catholic Faith in 1980 and was quickly asked to come to the ‘prayer group’. I duly went for several months, along with our SVP President and a Legion of Mary member. I found some aspects of it very helpful: it taught me extemporary prayer, and bible reading. Had these been done with full adherence to the Church and her Tradition then the movement has a lot to offer. However, within a year of attending I was turned me off: traditional devotions were discarded as not-spirit-inspired; and the bible became such a focus that our SVP President left the Church to Join a Protestant community because he couldn’t find Catholic Doctrine in the Bible and ‘the Bible is what is important’, and I perceived a kind of superiority within the movement; an attitude of ‘well the rest of the folk will catch up with us when they are open to the Spirit’. That attitude can still be found among many today and I feel is demonstrated by some of the leaders of the Renewal movement who have been given air-time on EWTN. So the movement has benefits but also great dangers, not least the personalism of which you speak, Father. I admit to another problem: all the talk about being ‘baptised in the Spirit’ is suggestive that Sacramental Baptism and Confirmation do not confer the Spirit; indeed, they seem to be seen as ‘inferior’; they seem to suggest that Sacramental Baptism and Confirmation are somehow activated until we have been ‘Baptised in the Spirit’. Yes we need people to learn extemporary prayer, but it should not be used or allowed to oust traditional devotions which were good enough for the saints and martyrs we venerate; and yes we need people to be devoted to reading the scriptures, but in the light of Tradition (with a capital T) as interpreted by the Magisterium (which it is worth noting does not just mean sitting Bishops but the whole of the Magisteium, from The Apostles onwards) –no generation of Bishops stand alone as the Magisterium.

Richard Collins said...

To be a charismatic is to be self indulgent. I remember the movement back in the early 80s when I first noticed people in church praying with arms outstretched. I found it a dubious way of praying then and my views are the same today. All of the charismatics I have met have been dismissive of the traditions of the church and its liturgical heritage.
Real Christian love does not depend on effusive OTT actions for its integrity.

RJ said...

Just on that point of Pentacostalism, Father. It could be that this, in its properly adjusted/purified form, is one of those elements that belongs to the Catholic Church but has in the past been most manifest outside its visible boundaries. Now it has found renewed expression in the Catholic Church. (I could be wrong, of course. This is all subject to discernment by the appropriate authorities). That doesn't mean there won't be problems/defects. All 'new movements' have their hiccups.
Doesn't Vatican II teach that we need both the charismatic (not necessarily meaning 'Charismatic') and hierarchical dimensions of the Church? Does this apply?
As you say, 'personal experience' is not a sure guide to doctrine or a substitute for authoritative teaching.

Physiocrat said...

Traditional Catholic worship IS or should be, Charismatic and Pentecostal.

This applies particularly to Gregorian chant, which when sung correctly, is as charismatic as more recent manifestations of Charismatic worship. It is up to those of us who are aware of it to spread the message by demonstrating that this is so.

georgem said...

I'm not sure I'd know what to do with an ursus antiquior. But I do know what to do in the Usus Antiquior. Lucky for me that I was reasonably well catechised and understand what the priest is doing and why. It's pretty easy to find out, if you can be bothered, and lo! a whole spiritual treasure chest is revealed.

Some of us need to be more contemplative in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. There's room for us and room for charismatics who are faithful to the Magisterium, though the latter are not my bag. In God's house there are many mansions, etc.

I think joyful might be a more apt word than enjoying. I've plenty of hours in the day to enjoy life; my family, friends, food and drink, leisure, pleasure, to shout and to sing.

I am asked only that for one measly hour a week I stop. And dedicate my time solely to God. This can indeed be joyful, even at the Usus Antiquior, as it was at the Corpus Christi Mass at St. Mary Magdalen last evening.

john-of-hayling said...

georgem said...

"I'm not sure I'd know what to do with an ursus antiquior". I think that you should get it stuffed and mounted.... a competent taxidermist should be able to perform this task.
Regarding the role of catechists that was mentioned in the blog; I recently attended a "Day for New Catholics" and was surprised when one catechist present asked us to consider becoming catechists. As a way of encouragement he said ... "You don't need to know any theology....."

DominiSumus said...

I spent 10 years in the charismatic renewal with 5 of those years as a music leader. Our group had a very orthodox priest who was very involved and did not allow any prayer meetings to take place without his presence. He preached at every meeting and while lay people would give reflections, Father's homily was always the teaching. The rosary and Eucharistic adoration were central to the worship of the group as well. I never saw anything improper at any of our meetings, but I have had bad experiences with other groups who did not have strong and involved priest leaders.

For me, the Charismatic renewal was a vehicle to bring me into the heart of the Church. Although I did outgrow it and moved into more mainstream Catholic and traditional forms of worship I do not regret my years in the Charismatic renewal. It was a true Christian community of people who loved God and neighbor and were not afraid of fraternal correction.

Oliver Hayes said...

It seems to me that the fundamental flaw of charismatic renewal lies in its understanding of grace. That is, they see the Holy Spirit and his power as being fundamentally irresistible (e.g. ‘slain in the Spirit'), and not working entirely through nature and perfecting nature, but replacing it. Also they conceive of the church not as embracing the whole of humanity in all it's falleness and sinfulness, but as an oasis of faith and a community of the saved and of the faithful. In other words, it is modern day manifestation of the heresy of Jansenism.

If that is true, it will explain why it is somewhat hostile to intuitionalism and human traditions, in particular those of the liturgy. For them, grace bypasses and replaces what is human, instead of working through what is human. Of course these are human and liable to corruption and sin: yet sacramental grace is manifest through a received liturgical rite and a received institutional church of human creation. Yet still these have been formed by the Holy Spirit's guidance, despite the failings of man.

Bob Kovacs said...

Quote: "Ignatius said...

Rather than simply dismissing Charismatics for not being properly Catholic, it might be more to the point to ask why the movement has become so successful and appealing to so many. Could it possibly be that people find more of God in Charismaticism than they do in orthodox Catholicism? Maybe God is bigger than our orthodoxies."

Because in most parishes it's all about ME!. Plus they have no other choices. Most have never new anything but what has taken place after Vatican 2. Maybe people are unable and unwilling to accept and embrace their for fathers traditions. They want entertainment and a false feeling of God's energies flowing through them. Like the Force!. If you get my drift!. I don't think you would have seen St Dominic, or St Benedict waiving their hands and speaking giberish during their time of prayer or during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Not even in the Eastern Churches during their Divine Liturgies would you have found this ridiculous behavior.

Kate Edwards said...

In origins I agree with this analysis, but the movement has changed for the better in many places.

Here in Australia by far the most orthodox of our religious orders - and attracting the most vocations - are the Missionaries of God's Love, a charismatic order, but one based around Eucharistic Adoration...

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

Are the people in the congregation who raise their hands in the "orans" position during the Our Father doing some charismatic-inspired thing? I'd love to know where that silly habit comes from!

Physiocrat said...

It isn't polite to make fun of spelling mistakes even if the mistakes are amusing.

Father - please don't accept those kinds of comments.

me said...

Francis said:

"Are the people in the congregation who raise their hands in the "orans" position during the Our Father doing some charismatic-inspired thing? I'd love to know where that silly habit comes from!"

I suppose we'll find out on Judgment day who's form of praise and worship was or wasn't acceptable/fitting, to God. A clanging cymbal in the ears (or eyes) of man might be a joyful noise unto God who'll be looking a the heart first rather than the outward means of expression. It's not a test to pass or fail though. It's a love afair between a bride and groom!

Richard said...

Michael Petek said (9:52 PM):
"The distinguishing characteristics of Protestantism are nominalism in philosophy and the rejection of the sacrificial character of the Eucharist."

Although those are common characteristics of protestants, surely they are neither universal nor defining?

I thought that the defining characteristic of Protestantism is the belief that there is something higher than the Authority and Tradition of the Church.

This higher authority is generally either "sola scriptura" (which boils down to the individual's own interpretation of the Bible), or personal revelation.

Richard said...

But the people in the picture do look like they are auditioning for a bit part in a horror movie.

Ignatius said...

Bob Kovacs: 'Because in most parishes it's all about ME!' This sounds like quite a wild generalisation. As Our Lord says, it's always easier to see the splinter in your brother's eye than the plank in your own. Perhaps the Church needs to look at itself to see why people are attracted to movements like the charismatics and seemingly rejecting their fathers' traditions?


I do wish to stick up for New Dawn and Celebrate Catholic Charismatic conferences. Normally there are always daily masses with either a priest or bishop.

I challenge you to call Myles Dempsey un-catholic. He founded the annual New Dawn conference at Walsingham and is more orthodox than the majority of the bishops of England & Wales.

Fr Ray Blake said...

"... is more orthodox than the majority of the bishops of England & Wales."

I think this might be a bit of an indication of what I was criticising. I don't know of any un-orthodox bishops in E&W, some might be eccentric but not unorthodox.

ServusMariaeN said...

Most Charismatic friends and family have long since left the Catholic Church for Pentecostal gatherings or no religion at all. Many Charismatics are staunch supporters of the Medjugore movement. The Charismatic movement has its' roots in Protestant pentecostalism so I've never really understood why it is supported by the Church. I suppose it's Ecumenism...

Michael Petek said...

Richard, concerning your comment about my comment about Protestantism: what gave it its appeal among the learned was the prevalence of Nominalism. This is the philosophy that says that only individuals are real.

Now, while it is true that only individuals exist (only they are substances), relations are be real as well. If there are several people really related in a particular way, their mutual relations are real. This the nominalists denied.

Once you're innominalist territory, you can't really do metaphysics and you can't really handle concepts like transubstantiation. Thus dies faith in the Blessed Sacrament.

As for private judgement, you cannot be a Protestant unless you adopt this principle, though there is no reason why you cannot retain it and be something other than a Protestant.

Bob Kovacs said...

Looks like something out of the Exorcist.

dennis said...

This is a very interesting debate. At first hand their 'liturgy' would appear to be very evangelical christiain-like, very emmotion based. I have some friends that are seminarians in a well known diocesan seminary and they recounted stories of people 'speaking in tongues',(although I am sure that this particlur manifestation is not the same as the orginal biblical form) and as it turned out a chap that has studies ancient biblical languages said that what they were 'speaking' was absolute profanity. Hardly the work of the Paraclete. Plus that when we consider what is actually happening at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the re presentation of the sacrifice of Cavalvary, that it is the most stupendous supernatural event on earth, one has to ask why such spontaneous emmotion liturgies are even necessary.

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