September 21, 2005

Different Styles, Universal Church

Ever wondered what it'd be like if St. Blog's most POD, mantilla-garbed traditionalist (small 't') Catholic went to a charismatic service? Yeah, me too. You can read about it here. (Be sure to begin where she says "feel free to stop reading at this point" - that's when it really gets good.)

Her internal struggle over it makes for interesting reading. I obviously lean towards her spirituality, which I sometimes ascribe to my naturally wanting to be "in control" (which is why I think I hold my liquor pretty well; I don't like feeling out of control). And it would seem that tongues is out of control, which is okay if you're sure it's the Holy Spirit and not the demonic doing the controlling. Sometimes I think traditionalist Catholics like myself need a good dose of the charismatic side and conversely charismatic Catholic need a dose of traditionalism, but on the other hand that might be a case of eschewing the natural gifts (or limitations) God has given (or denied) us. Still, everyone knows the numero uno problem with us Catlicks today is the lack of joy, and joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit that seems especially present at Charismatic services.

I went to St. Thomas and read what he said, since he's very rational and very pro-self-control. Definitely not a big fan of any sort of nonsense. He's the kind of saint who puts reason so high up the chain of command that I suspected he'd not be thrilled with tongues, though that's partially a misunderstanding on my part. The authentic gift is translatable, and thus appeals to the rational mind. And all St. Thomas says is what St. Paul says, that it is a lesser gift, which is not to disparage it. The Catholic Encyclopedia speaks of abuse of tongues in St. Paul's day:
The charism had deteriorated into a mixture of meaningless inarticulate gabble (9, 10) with an element of uncertain sounds (7, 8), which sometimes might be construed as little short of blasphemous (12:3). The Divine praises were recognized now and then, but the general effect was one of confusion and disedification for the very unbelievers for whom the normal gift was intended (14:22, 23, 26). The Corinthians, misled not by insincerity but by simplicity and ignorance (20), were actuated by an undisciplined religious spirit (pneuma), or rather by frenzied emotions and not by the understanding (nous) of the Spirit of God (15).
St. Thomas writes:
By the gift of prophecy man is directed to God in his mind, which is more excellent than being directed to Him in his tongue. "He that speaketh in a tongue "is said to speak "not unto men," i.e. to men's understanding or profit, but unto God's understanding and praise. On the other hand, by prophecy a man is directed both to God and to man; wherefore it is the more perfect gift.
The catechism says:
There are furthermore special graces, also called charisms after the Greek term used by St. Paul and meaning "favor," "gratuitous gift," "benefit." Whatever their character - sometimes it is extraordinary, such as the gift of miracles or of tongues - charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church.
UPDATE:It's unfair of me to pontificate on something I've never gone to (i.e. a charismatic service). Roz would be the authority here, being a charismatic and belonging to a charismatic parish. Also, Steven Riddle discusses his charismatic experiences and how he felt in tune in his apartness.

Via Roz:
I've seen beautiful, reverent worship in the expressive mode(because tongues is only a part of charismatic worship) in St. Peter's Basilica at a Mass that a number of Cardinals were concelebrating. Hmmm. Felt pretty POD to me.

My default position is that things that God is comfortable with might well be uncomfortable to me. So, what else is new? I wouldn't go to Confession, either, if He hadn't told me to.

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