18 September 2007

Thawing out some thoughts

After my post yesterday on the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR), I thought I should check into it a bit on the internet, something I hadn't previously done. I had asked priests about the CCR, but have never hopped online to see what's out there.

Eye opening, reaffirming and a bit shocking to say the least. I was going to write more on this topic, but found some articles that say it better than I ever could. The articles are mostly from a conservative point of view, so keep that in mind for objectivity's sake, but just because they are more traditional in their view point doesn't diminish much of what they say.

I never found the Charismatics to be as extreme as the articles point out, but maybe I was too far on the periphery to be in the know and see any agenda. I didn't ever find the message of the CCR to be one of replacement or attempting to supercede the doctrines or beliefs of Catholicism, but then again, participation did nothing to further my faith. Even more importantly, participation did NOT teach me my faith but, IMHO, presented me something parallel, and even as I said in my prior post, tangential to the Faith I had been raised with. Many things in the articles rang true.

First article, here's a quote that supported my thoughts of early yesterday morning. However, it is from the Remnant, and does personally bash and criticize some well-known folks which I find a bit uncharitable. Cum grano salis.

When the disciples asked Our Lord how to pray, He taught them the Our Father. Simple. Not an emotional, energy-packed experience. Not a “gift” which some receive, while others do not, but a simple prayer which any man, woman or child can say.

The lives of the Saints clearly reinforce this truth. Their methods of prayer did not resemble sporadic outbreaks in unknown, unintelligible utterances. They became Saints on the traditional prayers of the Church: the Creed, the Our Father, the Glory Be, the Acts of Faith, Hope and Charity; the Act of Contrition, prayers based on the Psalms and, of course, the lifting of their minds and hearts in true religious sentiment in gratitude to God.

Further...all I can say about the below is that the CCR was never presented to me in this extreme. However, just because it wasn't spelled out or written on a hand-out doesn't mean this wasn't what was happening. This is exactly what I was talking about when I pondered the questions about group dynamics. What the he** is going on here?

What does this mean? It means the overcoming of all psycho-social inhibitions and barriers which protect the individual from unacceptable social and immoral behavior. Charismatics maintain that spirit empowerment results in the elimination of rigidity and inhibitions that can stifle spiritual energies. Consequently, the line of defense against our deep inner impulses to act out is weakened. The liberation of physic resources from within the unconscious into the consciousness of the individual is not well-known and can have traumatic effects on the person’s psyche, on his personality and on interpersonal group dynamics which are operable in Charismatic prayer meetings.

Built-in psycho-social inhibitions are healthy and necessary, and by preventing an individual from acting out, it helps him not to sin. The normal person discerns the line beyond which actions become morally unacceptable, either internally or externally. To the degree that psychological restraints are weakened, to that degree are the passions excited. Before enslaving men, Satan first frees them from their psychological complexes and then liberates them from all psychological restraints to bring them under his yoke. Liberation and empowerment open the door for Satan to enter. It is known that at Charismatic prayer meetings there have been occurrences of diabolic manifestations which have alarmed both leaders and participants.

Liberation and empowerment, of which the Charismatic man boasts, are contrary to the virtue of humility, because they foster a sense of self-reliance and pride. On the contrary, liberation and empowerment do not strengthen faith; rather we see it as a sort of psychic drug that eventually will cause the degradation of the faith and the mental well-being of individuals.

Furthermore, the so-called Baptism of the Spirit and the empowerment that accompanies it place the individual at a spiritual and psychological risk, because he then becomes vulnerable to both internal and external suggestions. His sense of judgment is impaired, and consequently he is rendered unable to distinguish wheat from chaff, light from heat, and the authentic from the counterfeit.

Second article is from the SSPX, so forewarned here, folks. I found this to be a well written article, despite its pedigree.

Thus, to the Charismatic, one does not truly "know" God until one has experienced Him consciously, i.e., until one has had a sensory experience (usually emotional, sometimes overtly physical as in the case of the glossolalia —or speaking in tongues) of "His Spirit" at work in one. Indeed, spiritual experience over-rules public revelation and the 2000-year teaching of the magisterium in matters such as, to name only one example, ecumenism (see below).

To the Charismatics, the very presence today of phenomena supposedly identical to the true charismata present in the early Church proves their divine origin. The experience is what matters, not the intellect’s legitimate questions, such as "Why the 2000-year lapse? Is this experience really the same as the phenomena described in Scripture? Is ‘the Spirit’ leading us toward a more fully Catholic life or toward apostasy?" The failure of Charismatics to "try the spirits" [I Jn. 4:1] is possibly their most dangerous blunder since the Devil can produce prodigies which mimic truly supernatural phenomena from God.


Laura The Crazy Mama said...

"...the Devil can produce prodigies which mimic truly supernatural phenomena from God."

I wish I could pass out a flyer that says this whenever those yay-hoos come to my parish.

swissmiss said...

It's been a long, long time since I was involved in the CCR, but I didn't know they visited parishes. This may be because the parish I belong to, St. Agnes, wouldn't have been too welcoming ;}

AquinaSavio: said...

I'm very alarmed by the CCR. It just scares me how people are relying on their emotions to know God. While they are trying to grow closer to him, the Charismatic Catholics that I know have displayed some selfishness. They will say how they want the supernatural gifts of the saints. They are so excited by these gifts, and they eagerly search after them. Well, Saint Louis De Montfort was against this outlook. In his prayer to the Blessed Mother, he specifically asks that he not receive spiritual pleasures of any kind.

I think we should leave it up to God to give out such gifts...not go searching for them.

swissmiss said...

the Charismatic Catholics that I know have displayed some selfishness
Precisely. Instead of coming to God in humility and seeking His will, many in the CCR actively seek or yearn for these gifts. The group, by encouraging folks to pray in tongues, places an enormous amount of pressure on everyone to get with the program and "get the gift of tongues." That's the group dynamics I was hinting at. I knew oodles of Charismatics who received the gift of tongues or interpreting tongues or prophecy, etc., but ZERO people outside of this group. Just about every explanation as to why this happens either disturbs me or is very Protestant, almost along the lines of Calvinism (the gift of tongues is "proof" you are doing something right or you are someone God has chosen to give these gifts to.) I'm not denying that God can and does bless some with these gifts, but this is like lightning striking a dozen times in the same place.

BTW: Thanks for citing Saint Louis De Montfort, I had been trying to recall for a few days!

Anonymous said...

I have always maintained that "the gift of tongues" is not when you are babbling unintelligible sounds but when the Holy Spirit speaks through you. This happened to me once when I was talking to a young lady about her contraceptive pills. I couldn't believe the words coming out of my mouth - I didn't know I knew those things - and within weeks she threw the pills away. To me, that was the gift of tongues - speaking in "her" language so she could understand the pills were bad.

swissmiss said...

A good priest who used to be at our parish talked about this. He said that each priest receives a gift when he is ordained. This priest received the gift of preaching. He is world renowned for his homilies that he never prepares in advance, he just lets the Holy Spirit say what He wants said. Sounds like you received this too! Great story!

Sanctus Belle said...

All things "charismatic" have always made my stomch turn. This sort of worship is overly emotional and seems to have as its goal churning up people's feelings. I'm sick to death of "feelings", please just let it stop! I do not condemn the movement, but as highly suspicious of it and want nothing to do with it. Thanks for the post.

AquinaSavio: said...

I don't think it's going to stop very soon. It's the only type of spirituality that kids are being introduced to any more.

Adoro te Devote said...

I disagree with the articles; they were written from a specific agenda, and some of what they say, although might apply to some groups, does not apply to all.

I credit some of my LASTING conversion to a charismatic group. I took a Life in the Spirit Seminar, was annointed at the end when we prayed for the "Infilling of the Holy Spirit" (commonly called "Baptism of the Holy Spirit).

They were very careful to say this is NOT a Sacrament, or a "para-sacrament" as some snidely call it. It is simply a spiritual exercise, asking for the Holy Spirit to be renewed in us; more appropriately...that we be more open to the Holy Spirit. The priest who was in charge of this seminar, a very holy priest, was very emphatic that the Sacraments were of prime importance, and really wanted to be sure everyone went to Confession before that special day. It was a wonderful experience and I made one of the best Confessions of my life during this time period.

I did attend meetings with this group for a few months, but fell away...my needs had been met. They are all faithful Catholics, and the CCR is a valid spirituality within the Church. John Paul II himself approved it; but that's not to say we should not be discerning.

My experience led me to Eucharistic Adoration, and kept me there. It helped me to "hear" the voice of my Shepherd in prayer. It opened me to the realization that God might be calling me to religious life (Um...I dont' think I am); the point being that there is a huge chunk of spiritual understanding that would not have happened had I not had the seminar.

But, on the other hand, I spoke of my criticisms recently with a friend who has charismatic connections and considers herself to be charismatic. My critique; a certain spiritual pride; the idea that you've got to be "in the club" to have certain gifts, and the idea that tongues is a sort of "gateway" gift. I did not recieve that gift....but God gave me some others, most of which appear when HE desires, when the gift is needed...NOT when I meet with some group to pray. Another issue; they begin their prayr meetings with singing, which is fine, but a lot of the songs are Protestant, many theologically neutral, but sorry, the singers were bad and the guitars annoyed me. And I felt like I was in the 70's at a meeting Mom took us to when I was a kid. Weird.

Well, I used to just skip that part. Partially because I was in that job I hated and needed a time of silence, not cacaphony they called "praise and worship", so I skipped in favor of Eucharistic Adoration and the contemplative silence of the chapel. Then I'd slip into the meeting during a period of silence and Bible reading.

Well, I was criticized for skipping the "praise and worship" part one day. "Don't you think God would want you to be here with us praising and worshiping Him?"

Um...I thought I was doing that in the Adoration Chapel. Thanks.

I also heard of how one woman "recieved the gift of tongues". She is a gullible, easily led sort, and was forced into it one night by her well-meaning friend. I would have babbled, too, if it meant I could finally go to sleep if I did so.

Some people do have the gift of tongues; it is legitimate. EWTN's Mother Angelica was extremely skeptical of this and actually recieved this gift...she could not speak normally no matter how hard she tried! God was making a point.

Of course, that's not usually the manifestation taken in these meetings.

Another critiqe; the passages that came to people in prayer were often linked to the previous Sunday's reading...the phrasing, etc. And they were always positive. Always. There was always a call to trust and accept Jesus...but NEVER a call to repent, never one of the more direct or "violent" verses.

One day a reading from Jeremiah came to me, I want to say from Jer. 9. Can't remember for certain. But it was a clear call to repentance, and the impulse to share it was so strong. I began to read it and the entire group looked at me cross-eyed as though I'd done something wrong.

"What? She's supposed to be talking about the Shepherd and sheep and 'my People, come to me', NOT fire and brimstone repent or suffer!"

No, they didn't say that, but that's the impression I had.

I do think that they fulfill a need in the Church, and I do think it is a home for some people. And I do think there is such a thing as the CCR stuck in the 70's, and the CCR as it is supposed to be.

The friend I mentioned above...she said that the group I was with was stuck in the 70's...the CCR has moved on. It is not a "prayer meeting" thing; it is part of their lives. It is a life based upon Eucharistic Adoration, Mass, the Sacraments. Most good CCR meetings don't even start with guitars and singing anymore...they begin with simple prayer. Not tongues. Tongues have their place...but at God's choice.

So as those who are involved are stuck in the 70's and might be missing the point...those are individuals missing the point. I also know many charismatics who are faithful, Jesus is the center of their lives, and they have left hte 70's long behind them. It IS a legitimate spirituality when practiced with the correct focus.

Hopefully all groups out there will learn how to do it right. The church does need this spirituality...but we need for it to be practiced correctly, and with more humility.

I am not a charismatic but my experience has helped me to see them from both sides. I don't go to their meetings, but I'm still on their list and have agreed to be so; some of the info they pass on is valuable, and each week I get a name to pray for. And my name is passed to someone else.

That's valuable. And this group, although they are stuck in a time warp in practice, mostly have hearts based on Jesus. They attend daily Mass. They pray the rosary, and they live devout lves. The fruits of the Holy Spirit are apparent.

But their style of worship? Not for me. But that doesn't make them bad or wrong. Just...well..stuck in a warp.

swissmiss said...


Great comments. I agree with you on the articles to a point. I could tell they were written with an axe to grind, but my CCR experiences were more in line with these in some respects than it seems yours were.

I do think the people involved in the CCR were sincere, but in retrospect, the group dynamics were a big part of things. People spoke in tongues a lot. There was a great deal of pressure to "get" one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which usually was the gift of tongues.

I agree that there is a place in the Church for the CCR, but I can't say I'd recommend it to anyone wanting to convert or even other Catholics...just seems to be too many pitfalls unless someone is really grounded. I just don't know what the definition of "grounded" is!