Pope Francis the Charismatic

Before beginning this celebration, I bring you a greeting. Before I left this morning, I was with Pope Francis, and I told him: ‘Holy Father, I have to leave soon. I’m going to Rimini where there are thousands upon thousands of faithful of the Charismatic Renewal: men, women and young people.’ With a great smile, the Pope said: ‘Tell them that I love them very much!’ Upon leaving the Holy Father, Archbishop Fisichella recounted, the Holy Father added: ‘Look, tell them that I love them very much because I was responsible for Charismatic Renewal in Argentina, and that’s why I love them very much.’”

I would suggest that the influence of the charismatic movement is evident in many of the words and actions of Pope Francis.  In particular, the following strikes me noteworthy:

Pope Francis focused on the first reading from Acts which recounts the first steps of the Church which, after Pentecost, went out to the “outskirts of faith” to proclaim the Gospel. The Pope noted that the Holy Spirit did two things: “first it pushed” and created “problems” and then “fostered harmony within the Church.” In Jerusalem, there were many opinions among the first disciples on whether to welcome Gentiles into the Church. There were those who said “no” to any agreement, and instead those who were open:

“There was a ‘No’ Church that said, ‘you cannot; no, no, you must not’ and a ‘Yes’ Church that said, ‘but … let’s think about it, let’s be open to this, the Spirit is opening the door to us ‘. The Holy Spirit had yet to perform his second task: to foster harmony among these positions, the harmony of the Church, among them in Jerusalem, and between them and the pagans. He always does a nice job, the Holy Spirit, throughout history. And when we do not let Him work, the divisions in the Church begin, the sects, all of these things … because we are closed to the truth of the Spirit. “

There is an ongoing struggle between the left and the right to define and describe the relationship between the doctrinal and pastoral teaching of the Church.  This is roughly the difference between the definition of doctrinal principles and their application in the concrete circumstances of daily life.  It is not exactly the same thing as the difference between the hierarchical and charismatic aspects of the Church, but it would be safe to say that the charismatic movement is more pastorally oriented and the conservative/traditional non-charismatic side of the Church is more hierarchic and rigid in the application of doctrine.  Pope Francis in appealing to the example of the early Church is calling for balance.

Some confuse the progressive side of the Church with the charismatic and not without reason, because the charismatic movement has shown itself to be more accommodating to the new and has taken its cue from the Protestant Pentecostals.  But in actual fact, in spite of the difficulty to integrate various aspects of charismatic inspiration into the ecclesial structure, charismatics over time have shown themselves largely to be eager for such integration and quite Eucharistic and Marian.  Furthermore, they have been at the forefront of the Church’s efforts at evangelization.

This does not address the very real problems with various aspects of the charismatic movement, principally hinging, I believe, on the question of the discernment of spirits.  Indeed, charismatics are out of the box.  However, both sides of the debate are going to have to come to terms with the fact the real answers are complex and involve a process of discernment is not resolved by simply checking off a list.

It seems to me that Pope Francis is suggesting that the ultimate solution cannot be conceived in terms of left/right or progressive/traditional, but ought to reflect the original intentions of Blessed Pope John XIII in respect to Vatican II to apply the perennial teachings of the Church in a new way to modern times.  This is the work of the Holy Spirit and it is creative, although it involves the risk of erring in matters of discernment.  Perhaps this is in part an explanation of why Pope Francis makes frequent references to both the Holy Spirit and to the Devil.  He warns that their can be no dialogue with the Devil, but at the same time the Holy Spirit cannot be tamed.

Pope Francis says that the Church is driven by the Holy Spirit and not by bureaucrats and militants.  In this, I believe he is criticizing both the horizontalization that occurs when the Church adopts the secular corporate model.  But he is also criticizing the programmatic zealotry that occurs when there is a failure to understand what is actually happening on the ground and a failure to respond to it in a way that both corresponds to the mind of the Church and is inspired.  Here as well, he is calling for balance, and this is the work of the Holy Spirit.

I believe Pope Francis will continue to show that he himself is out of the box, though in a truly Catholic way, and will also continue to defy attempts to file him away appropriately.

36 thoughts on “Pope Francis the Charismatic

  1. For all that I think the author has the best of intentions, I think this article rather too optimistic about charismatic approaches. Too often, what might be posed as a “new way to reach people’ winds up being little more than something vaguely entertaining or “new”. It’ll catch some attention for awhile, but when we come to time for difficult answers, few will be available. I find all too often that what’s branded as “traditional” or “doctrinal” really holds the serious meat and potatoes of the faith. It’s not flashy or exciting, but it’s what lasts the most and sustains our faith most fully.

    Put simply, I have no confidence in “charismatic renewal” because I rarely see any real substance from such an approach. It’s usually entirely too much symbol and style, lacking serious meat.

  2. Sam,

    Thanks, I will update the post.


    I share the measured optimism of Bl. John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis in regard to the charismatic movement.

    I think your generalizations do not reflect the current reality. This is not the 1970’s. I know charismatics who are “doctrinal” and liturgically conservative, if not traditional.

    My point is that Pope Francis does not subscribe to such generalizations, but he does subscribe the last fifty years of papal magisterium. A day will come when “doctrinal” an “pastoral” are not considered two mutually exclusive schools of thought.

  3. The first meeting of the “charismatic renewal” that took place in Canada occurred in the dinning room (capacity for 100 people) of the Madonna House in Combermere, Ontario. The servant of God Catherine de Hueck Doherty was present. This community, of which Cardinal Ouellet praised as a forerunner of new Catholic communities in Canada, is an authentic charismatic community, yet not in the sense that you are thinking of John. They “hold the serious meat and potatoes of the faith,” yet not in the way that the traditionalists/neo-jansenists present the faith (basically something that is frozen in time and needs to be rigidly applied in order for one to have a chance at salvation). At the Madonna House (http://www.madonnahouse.org/), an authentic charismatic community, they live by the Spirit. They discern the way the Spirit is guiding them, yet always applying “the perennial teachings of the Church in a new way to modern times.” If one looks at the first readings of the Mass for Easter time, one can see a vibrant Church living by the Spirit, yet at the same time, applying the teachings that Our Lord left them before ascending into heaven. To live such an authentic and deep spiritual life takes great faith, but only by living in such a manner will one be able to allow the seed of faith to be cultivated. Traditionalists/neo-jansenists crush the seed of faith in themselves and others by “wanting to tame the Holy Spirit.” I think it is time for them to get off their chair of Moses and submit to the chair of Peter; a chair that is dedicated to handing on (tradere, traditio) the merciful counsels of Our Lord, in order to “not crush the bruised reed” (Isaiah 42:3).

  4. I think too many are inclined toward casting overly harsh aspersions on traditional expressions of Catholic faith. If someone would accuse traditionalists of crushing the seed of faith, I would accuse many others of the the same crime, but in the opposite direction. If the traditional presentations of the faith became too rigid in declaring what one MUST do, the opposing side has long become equally rigid in declaring what we may NEVER do, nor even consider.

    I might point out too that “pastoral” and “doctrinal” never did truthfully oppose each other, but came to be perceived that way because too many clergy refused to admit that their “pastoral” approach effectively abandoned doctrinal concerns.

    I don’t trust charismatic attitudes precisely because they all too frequently insist that what we did before doesn’t appeal to anyone. Unfortunately, I find the “relevant-to-‘modern’-people” approach to be equally aggravating.

  5. John,

    Actually, John I do not think Kyle was referring to “traditional expressions of the Catholic faith” but, as he said, to “traditionalist/neo-jansenist” expressions, which are aberrations, just as a failure to discern the spirits in the charismatic movement leads to aberrations.

    Just remember the sword you are using cuts both ways, and that it precisely my point.

    You caricature Kyle’s and my position. We did not say that we need to make the faith “relevant” to “modern people,” but to apply “the perennial teachings of the Church in a new way to modern times.” The Church has always done this. The Franciscan Order is a good example of this, and many theologians of the 13th century believed that the mendicant orders were a dangerous innovation. St. Bonaventure defended the Franciscans strenuously as a middle way between the hypercharismaticism of the Joachimists and the “paleo-traditionalism” that resisted reform.

  6. For my purposes, frangelo, your comment highlights precisely why I’m not keen on charismatic renewal. If the sword cuts both ways, I might comment that the sword appears to have cut quite a little; the result hasn’t been pretty. I’ve seen a fair number of presentations of the faith that might be described as “doctrinally charismatic”, but for the most part, I haven’t seen hordes of people clamoring for more. In fact, if I’ve seen people trying to get into churches at all, it’s often been as a means of protest against what some bishop or other said in a speech, article, or homily.

    “Charismatic renewal” as I have seen it tends to mean that we spend a good deal of time and energy causing people to become enthusiastic and energetic about faith in some way. Sadly, when it comes time to live life again and we’re needing to actually apply the Church’s teachings, whole portions of that energy suddenly turn quickly against the idea of any discipline being exerted.

    Granted, that’s not precisely what doctrinal charismatics intend, but too often, such interests only reluctantly admit that “charismatic renewal” hasn’t accomplished a tremendous lot.

    For that matter, before I worry much about charismatic renewal, I’d like to see the Church expend much more energy, time, and economic resources on such things as restoring the traditional Mass and provoking practicing Catholics to be more reverential within the Novus Ordo. If you wish to highlight the Franciscans and Madonna House, I wish to highlight how the Franciscans and Madonna House don’t represent the Church as a whole all that well, but if you attend Mass at your average local parish, you’re likely to find a congregation whose genuine understanding of the Church’s teaching is..lamentable..at best.

    Put rather more stiffly, I’d much rather see the Church focus on making sure the faithful actually learn the faith and live by it. We spend way too much time and effort on being enthusiastic about..very, very little. It gets to be VERY old after a time.

  7. Actually, John, it is not either/or, but both/and. I will trust the intuitions and doctrinal commitment of the modern papacy. The Church is doing what you suggest through the ministry of the popes and it will continue to do so.

    The Charismatic Renewal has accomplished more than you give it credit. The resurgence since the 1980’s of Eucharistic and Marian devotion, as well as apologetics and new religious communities, has been largely related to the work of the charismatic movement.

    As a former novice master and superior, I know for a fact that the vast majority of vocations to religious life–and good ones–have come in the last three decades from the charismatic movement.

    Likewise, you make short shrift of the movement’s positive influence in Latin America and Asia, especially the Philippines.

    It really isn’t as simple as you make it out to be. Pope Francis, like his successors will seek integration and he will be successful among those who do not seek to tame the Holy Spirit.

  8. I am puzzled by your reductionism, John. Why hold with such a tight grip to such a caricature of the charismatic person? Of what are you afraid? There is no doubt that when one truly enters into the Liturgy with reverence, awe and faith that the greatest prayer on earth is transformative. How is it then that the transformation that comes from infinite graces upon a properly disposed soul would exclude the very spirit, vibrancy, power and LIFE of the One with whom we have just communed? Putting it in the form of a proposition, the Liturgy allows the very Son of God to be incarnated into us. We are going to act and love in the power of Christ, with His charismata for the building up of His Church, and the evangelization of people for whom Christ has already redeemed. The very dismissal in the Mass, “Go, and proclaim the Gospel of Christ”, is an actuality that is to be accomplished in our lives.

    Too often, the desire to protect a true Catholic identity excludes the truly Catholic expression that is charismatic and evangelical, that which is exemplified by Jesus Himself. Is it possible that our idea of what is “Catholic” is not really Catholic? I think this may be the case. Let me propose an idea once given to me by a very wise sage: “Catholic is Jesus.” And with this, let me also introduce a clarified version of what is and what is NOT the charismatic movement: doing what Jesus is doing with His Spirit.” You see, the charismatic movement, often relegated to an auxiliary movement that is exclusive and elitist; as if it’s for those who “really want to get close to Jesus.” The charismatic movement is a phenomena that reminds us that the Church is really the community of the Holy Spirit, and that the charismata He gives us is for the entire Church.

    I fear that the resistance to the charismatic movement, with all it’s human qualities, is really based on envy. We don’t like it that Protestants, especially those who are charismatic, flourish by attracting an enormous amount of people, drawing especially Catholic people away from the Church. We despise this with all our soul and with a critical eye, live out this envy by constant criticism of their movement, and avoiding anything they do so as to not taint what and who we are as Catholics. We end up rejecting a truly Catholic expression of our faith, a Spirit directed joy and exuberance so as to retain a Catholic identity that isn’t really Catholic.

  9. Addendum: Please also see that I do not propose ANY diluting of authentically Catholic teaching and its praxis so as to make it “relevant” to a modern or post-modern mindset. This is against the Spirit; it is a subtle expression of the anti-Christ spirit. Again, if “Catholic” is Jesus in reference to thinking, believing and living like Jesus, it will actually foster in us a live that allows us to think, believe and act like Jesus, not a Pharisaical replication of Him. It will also produce a passion for souls exemplified by Jesus, not a desire for a ghetto-ization of the faith.

  10. “As a former novice master and superior, I know for a fact that the vast majority of vocations to religious life–and good ones–have come in the last three decades from the charismatic movement.”
    “Likewise, you make short shrift of the movement’s positive influence in Latin America and Asia, especially the Philippines.”

    THAT depends a great deal on how we’re defining “good” vocations, frangelo.
    You highlight the notion that charismatic renewal appears to have great impact in various places around the world, I highlight the idea that such renewal often occurs most where poverty or lack of education—usually both–have wrought havoc on a populace. In such cases, the enthusiastic, but somewhat simpler, presentation of the faith might work very well.
    Or, if you’d highlight the value of vocations in Latin America and Asia, I’ll highlight the need for substantive numbers of priests and religious here in the US and Europe. Being “wealthy” nations does not ease the need for spiritual outreach at all; I think the degree of material wealth rather enhances the need for serious and thoughtful answers. I don’t see that coming from charismatic renewal.
    Charismatic renewal efforts seem to me stubbornly focused on providing comparatively enthusiastic, but simple, answers to the life struggles of peoples that seem responsive to such approaches. Unfortunately, people here in the US and Europe likely won’t be satisfied. Many so-called sophisticated people will dismiss it as the fancies of a simpleton god and refuse to waste time on such nonsense. Amongst the rest of us, we need a great deal more of the more rigorous and time-consuming answers that the faith can provide.

    I don’t think we need a charismatic renewal of faith here in “the West” per se. I think we need a renewal of the disciplines that used to provide aid in keeping our material wealth in proper perspective.
    In short, I don’t think charismatic renewal will help the US or Europe all that much precisely because, as adults, we don’t take kindly to being treated as though we had the intellect and knowledge of an 8-year-old.
    (Nothing against 8-year-olds, expect they aren’t adults. We need a renewal of the Church that remembers that we know more about the world than that.)

  11. “The charismatic movement is a phenomena that reminds us that the Church is really the community of the Holy Spirit, and that the charismata He gives us is for the entire Church.”
    “I fear that the resistance to the charismatic movement, with all it’s human qualities, is really based on envy. ”

    If you would profess that I’m being a reductionist, Sam, I’d say these statements highlight another aspect of the core of the problem. If you would emphasize how the charismatic movement might bring people to the Eucharist and whatnot, I’d emphasize how the charismatic movement seems to me overly concerned with community and human qualities. I’m not going to Mass for a meal and fellowship with other Christians. I’m going there to receive God’s grace, present in the Eucharistic sacrifice. If you’d point out how I’m receiving graces from God by attending Mass, I’d point out that I find it VERY difficult to find much pathway to God when I have a whole horde of people around me who seem quite interested in paying attention to anything EXCEPT the Body and Blood of Christ.

    I don’t think people necessarily envy charismatics or Protestants, Sam. If anything, I fear that many of us run the serious risk of being straight disgusted by them.

    Overall, my impression of charismatic renewal–right or wrong–causes me to think that a charismatic likely will have a comparatively deficient background in the faith’s teachings. I hate to guess the number of times I’ve tried discussing or debating something with a Protestant–or a Catholic–and been unable to help someone understand why I disagreed. Only later, after reconsidering the conflict, did I realize in many cases that..the other..literally lacked the catechetical background to be capable of connecting the dots. What seemed preposterously simple to me..created major roadblocks for someone else.

    If I fear anything related to charismatic renewal, that’d be it: A lack of serious catechesis that causes another to be unable to see the merit of a differing view.

  12. The heresy we know as today’s Pentecostalism had it’s initial beginnings in Montanism. Montanus was a man who believed The Holy Spirit was speaking to him. He was aided by two women in this regard, who were equally “slain”. Many martyrs fought this heresy.

    For 50 years we have heard Tertulian, a heretic, quoted as if he were one of the Apostolic Fathers. He might have been had he not died being the most fervent adherent of this heresy. The sophist V-2 academics do these things furtively to deceive.. They allow 1.963 years of Tradition to be trumped by novel notions of a uniquely “pastoral” council, but rehabilitate heretics as they see fit. Interesting..

    The contemporary version, known as the “Charismatic Renewal”, neo-Montanism, was a heresy that popped up in the late 19th Century again, when Protestants were “reviving” and “renewing” much. I think they may have been looking for Sanctifying Grace, but I digress..

    In the devastating aftermath of V-2, which disemboweled, or mocked, Traditional forms of piety, people were encouraged to look for the :spirit” outside the Catholic Church, to curb the imagined evils of “Triumphalism”.

    6 students from Duquesne, university went to a visiting Pentecostali, woman pastor (sic) in 1967. She put her hands on them, including Ralph Martin,,and “slew them in the spirit..” As Arianisn had flourished some time ago, so only St. Athanasius was left to fight, it is the same with neo-Montanism, (aka as Catholic-Pentecostalism (sic) or The Catholic Charismatic Renewal” (sic)) today.

    Unity Publishing, a great website, has extensive works on this issue.

    Today it serves what the devotees of spiritism sought through history. A show, with no rules. If the “spirit” is found anywhere, why be Catholic? These neo-montanists often pooh-pooh Baptism and diminish the importance of Confirmation.

    It serves the purposes of the modernists by encouraging others that salvation can be found anywhere and one need not be Catholic to be saved.

    The problem for the good Catholic pew-sitter, are the shills for the effeminate Catholic-Right Establishment, who must first burn incense to Council notions of “collegial”, Episcopal and Papal idols, before having access to diocesan-sanctioned opportunities for entrepreneurs,,(book and speaking tours, etc..)who.continue to ignore the devastated vineyards even today.

    St. Francis of Assisi, on his death-bed, called his brothers together one last time, where he prophesied about a “destroyer”. Why would The Most High give the most famous FRANCIS of all time such a prophecy? And to whom is he referring? (The prophecy is available everywhere on line.)

    Our Lady of Fatima, Pray for us…

  13. John @ May 12, 2013 at 7:50 am

    A good vocation is a person who enters religious life for supernatural reasons and is faithful to ecclesiastically approved rule and charism. Interesting use of innuendo on your part. Likewise, your suggestion that people who are not from the West are simpletons and ignoramuses is simply breathtaking.

    Again, your insistence on a disjunction is not as sophisticated as you make it out to be. In actuality, the harder question, and one that is not provided for with pat answers is one of integration. And it is the one that is sought by the postconciliar popes. It is neither sentimental, nor scientific, but it is both theological and pastoral.

  14. Noneomontanist @ May 12, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Montanus not only believed the Holy Spirit spoke to him, he believed he spoke for the Holy Spirit and that the Church had nothing to say about it. Pretty typical of all heretics.

    The fact is that many, if not most Catholic charismatics are looking inside the Church, not outside and are not particularly concerned about the question of triumphalism at all, but are open to both traditional piety and to evangelization. In fact, most of them are docile to the Vicar of Christ.

    Thanks for confirming the need to join traditional piety with docility to the Holy Spirit in contradistinction to a reductionist definition of tradition apart from the living magisterium.

    BTW, I notice that your reference to the “prophecy” of St. Francis is found on the internet on multiple traditionalist websites (such as Novus Ordo Watch) all quoted from the same source, an English edition of the works of St. Francis from 1882. Actually, it looks like the multiple posts are basically cut and paste jobs. Interestingly, the volume does not document original source material. I would be interested to know if the quotation can be established with a primary source, or even multiple independent secondary sources of some authority.

    In any case, Noneo, perhaps after you come up with better sourcing, you could also answer your own questions? Why indeed? And to whom?

  15. frangelo,
    Once again, your stated opinion demonstrates why I have little confidence in charismatic renewal. If you’d highlight how parts of Asia or Latin America have been growth areas for charismatic renewal in Catholic faith, I’d highlight how those same areas of the world tend toward being less wealthy and less educated as a general rule. Certainly there are notable exceptions, but we’d be kidding ourselves if we wished to make believe that every nation offers the same degree of opportunity or education as what might be available here in the US

    It’s not so much a matter of Asia or Latin America being ignorant, gullible, or simplistic per se, so much as I’m considering people in the US or Europe to be more likely to be much more skeptical, demanding of particular detail, and rebellious. Again, I’m referring to rough trends that’re difficult to track, but have an impact even so.

    I’m also not at all following your idea about integration. I must point out that in order to integrate two separate ideas or notions, we must have two separate notions or concepts which can be integrated in the first place. I have little confidence in the merits of charismatic renewal because, thanks in no small part to various Protestant efforts over the last few centuries, most people cannot easily distinguish a Catholic charismatic from a Protestant..nut. And, because our bishops seem reluctant to act against what many would consider to be the most flagrant and public abuses of sacraments or Church teaching, I think we dread the idea that we might ultimately be stuck having yet another free-for-all against a bunch of folks who think they’re being “charismatic”, but who’re actually being straight heretical, but whose leadership won’t admit to the error.

    I’m very uncomfortable with the idea of encouraging charismatic anything until we have a better grip on the more basic and known expressions of the faith.
    We can’t make anything appropriate for a different people if the populace doesn’t grasp what “appropriate” IS.

  16. “The fact is that many, if not most Catholic charismatics are looking inside the Church, not outside and are not particularly concerned about the question of triumphalism at all, but are open to both traditional piety and to evangelization.”

    Problem is, I don’t see much from charismatics regarding anything even remotely traditional. Partly to ensure we’re talking about the same thing, I Googled charismatic renewal; I came up with an article that explained the movement as tending to focus on speaking in tongues, healings, prophecy, and the like. It also highlighted how the Church has been strugglingt to find a balance between being overly rationalistic and being overly credulous.

    Again, I think in part because of the history of Protestant efforts, many in the US and Europe will not take well to charismatic renewal, precisely because the faithful at large don’t know the faith well enough in general to know the difference between a Protestant..influence..and a genuine Catholic. ..And the rest of us aren’t eager to see more of what could easily be a “relevant” presentation of faith being offered.

    It’s not a matter of opposing the Church’s interest in charismatic renewal. Rather I’m considering that many of us don’t want to be involved in something that has so many question marks surrounding it.
    I’d like to see the Church–and charismatics as well–place much more emphasis on basic stuff: celebrating Mass reverently and worthily, developing a schola cantorum that offers Chant and polyphony for Mass, more prayer in the Rosary, Liturgy of the Hours, and similar kinds of prayers. I’d like to see much more emphasis on thorough catechesis, not some “pastoral” solution that dodges hard questions.
    I’m also struck by something that St Paul wrote in one of his letters. He didn’t say that speaking in tongues or similar efforts went against the Church, but he did emphasize that these efforts, while important, tended toward being less crucial to the life of the Church than other concerns.

  17. I have yet to see the both frangelo. Your attitude strikes me as one of contempt for a serious approach to faith. You haven’t even begun to admit that we could have a problem.

  18. You fail to admit that anyone could possibly have legitimate concerns about charismatic renewal. Instead, you dismissively insist that “concerns are being addressed”. Perhaps they are in your eyes, but not in mine. As far as respect for an approach goes, this idea of “postconciliar popes” strikes me as being quite telling. I’ve heard this kind of attitude before; it’s usually followed by stubborn refusal of anything traditional.

    Again, subtle though it may be, this comes across to me as an attitude of contempt.
    Again, all too common.

    • John,

      You have repeated yourself multiple times. I have stated that concerns over discernment of spirits are legitimate, and I find it also telling that accepting the approach of the postconcilar popes to be implicit of a “stubborn refusal of anything traditional.” I learned to celebrate the TLM since the mid-nineties. I am a religious who wears a habit everyday. In our community we have benediction everyday and pray 15 decades of the Rosary in common. I could go on. Take your innuendo somewhere else.

  19. Methinks I should clarify a little something: I do not intend to convey the idea that I that think efforts at charismatic renewal should be actively opposed, chastised, or whatever. Obviously charisms have been about since before Christ initiated the Church.
    I think though that we should be VERY cautious about expecting very much end result from this form of renewal, at least in terms of providing catechesis or evangelizing the US or Europe. I simply don’t see renewal of charisms as being a likely source of growth in the Church in these areas. I think too many in the US and Europe tend to be too cynical and too demanding of accountability to human reason for this approach to have much impact here. I don’t expect to see society transformed this way. I could be wrong.

    If it might be that charisms should exist in the Church, I think it equally true that such renewal..doesn’t necessarily constitute the Church’s main focus, especially toward the general public. It’s not that charismatic renewal is malicious or irrelevant, but rather that I consider other concerns to be MUCH more important.
    I’d like to see greater emphasis placed on traditional expressions of faith along with a genuine effort at catechesis to explain why such expressions came about in the first place.

    Renewal by charisms simply reminds me too much of the eager, enthusiastic, but frequently uneducated faith of my teens; a presentation that ultimately neglected a tremendous lot more than it revealed.

  20. frangelo,
    You have repeated yourself multiple times too and made mostly the same views clear. I made no innuendo. I can imagine that your faith community probably would appear to me to be an stellar example of an appropriate renewal of the faith.
    I think that marvelous. We need more of that.
    Trouble is, I think your community probably does not reflect the majority of the Church.

    Likely it will not until our bishops become more insistent about the disciplines of the faith.

  21. John, if your experience tells you to avoid a superficial experience, then by all means, avoid it. Don’t do it. The problem comes when you characterize the Charismatic Movement with such a hasty generalization, that you miss the tremendously in depth renewal that is actually taking place. I am a charismatic Catholic. I am thoroughly blessed by the Pope’s lessons on the proper praxis of our faith. I am thoroughly blessed by the Liturgy and seek to proclaim the Gospel with transformative power of the Eucharist within me. You just need to experience what is good. Don’t fall into fear and then chastise a movement of which you have little experience. Watch and learn from our Holy Father and let the Holy Spirit guide you. He is faithful to lead us all into the Truth, whether it’s in principle or in praxis.

  22. Hold on a minute, Sam. My characterization of the charismatic movement has been neither hasty nor needlessly dismissive. I’m gladdened to hear that you’ve found pursuit of charisms to be a genuine blessing in your life and a source of intense faith in the Church. That’s great. I’m reminded of the notion that Mother Angelica of EWTN fame may have been healed by such an experience. On the other hand, remember that hearing from charismatics in any manner at all has been somewhat more rare on the whole; those I have heard about have tended to raise as many questions as offer solutions. Considering how often I’ve heard about some “new evangelization” effort that wound up falling well short of it’s billing, I don’t think it unreasonable that I or others would be quite skeptical.


    What may be a thorough, deep, and extensive source of renewal for some may also be closer to a serious problem for the larger populace of the faithful. Considering again St. Paul’s cautionary comments on the subject, I wouldn’t be surprised if charismatic renewal might be a worthy, but not widespread, effort, while the overall Church requires something rather different.

    I guess we’ll see.

  23. “I’d like to see the Church–and charismatics as well–place much more emphasis on basic stuff: celebrating Mass reverently and worthily, developing a schola cantorum that offers Chant and polyphony for Mass, more prayer in the Rosary, Liturgy of the Hours, and similar kinds of prayers. I’d like to see much more emphasis on thorough catechesis, not some “pastoral” solution that dodges hard questions.”

    “I’d like to see greater emphasis placed on traditional expressions of faith along with a genuine effort at catechesis to explain why such expressions came about in the first place.”


    Everything that YOU would like to see, I have seen at Madonna House. Ok it is one isolated example, but then again it is an example of an authentic Catholic community that is charismatic and lives by the Church’s Tradition. It is a community where the foundress herself was encouraged by ven. Pius XII to initiate such an apostolate. But to witness my experiences (as you seem to have been witnessing yours), I spent almost 8 years with a religious community where they placed “much more emphasis on basic stuff: celebrating Mass reverently and worthily, developing a schola cantorum that offers Chant and polyphony for Mass, more prayer in the Rosary, Liturgy of the Hours, and similar kinds of prayers”; yet, in the end the community was guided by neo-jansenisitc principles. After I spent 7 months at the Madonna House where they “place much more emphasis on basic stuff: celebrating Mass reverently and worthily, developing a schola cantorum that offers Chant and polyphony for Mass, more prayer in the Rosary, Liturgy of the Hours, and similar kinds of prayers” did I finally experience authentic Catholicism. This is because they are guided by the Spirit, which is the Spirit of truth who comes to teach us all that we need to know in order to be transformed into Christ. Don’t get hooked up on the externals, they can “tame the Holy Spirit.”

  24. Kyle,
    First, we can agree that I’ve related some of my experience of life in my comments. Bear in mind though, I don’t refer to this as “witnessing”. Such a term seems to me based in Protestant approaches to faith, which I don’t think I’d care to begin doing.
    More importantly, though I’ve heard the terms before, I’ve never examined what Jansenism or neo-Jansenism..taught. I wound up looking it up on Wikipedia. Based on that, I’m hard pressed to explain how such principles–which seem to me to be mostly Calvinistic at their root–could ever have been compatible with Catholic practice. If you believe you’re too wretched to be redeemed, it makes no sense to me that you’d ever pray a Rosary or go to Mass in an effort to be saved. I gather people did, but the approach sounds self-contradictory to me.

    You seem worried about externals that tame the Holy Spirit, implying that a Rosary or whatever will keep you from talking to God in person. I’m more worried about being denied a chance to converse with God because I can’t think of anything worthwhile to say. I remember quite well how we learned to be “spontaneous” throughout my teens, to tell God whatever might be on my mind. Unfortunately, that didn’t really help me much. I could “talk to God” all I wanted, but not gain any insight or comfort from it.

    If we should not be too attached to externals, neither should we reject the existence or use of the same. If we can abuse prayers by saying them for the wrong reasons, we can also abuse them by failing to learn them in the first place.
    I hate to guess the number of times when I’ve felt very troubled by life, felt a need to talk to God, but couldn’t think of anything I felt He didn’t already know about. So, rather than blabber uselessly, I offered a Rosary because at least that’s a recognized prayer, He knows I’m in distress, but trying, and I’m able to at least approach Him that far.

    Often enough, just meditating on the mysteries as I offer the prayers does wonders for me.
    Honestly, I think that’s precisely why such things as Rosarys, Stations, and other practices came into wide use. Precisely because..they were useful.

    Unfortunately I don’t necessarily see so much interest in such things coming from the hierarchy. Things ARE changing bit by bit, yes, but there’s lots of room for improvement.

  25. John,

    Kyle did not say what you suggest he said about the Rosary. You missed the point entirely.

    Obviously, Jansenism is not “compatible with Catholic practice” because it is a heresy, but, on the other hand, it has historically existed side by side traditional Catholic practices. “Too wretched to be redeemed” does not describe the essence of Jansenism (the limitations of Wikipedia). Jansenism is a heresy of free will, similar as you say to Calvinism, in which it is believed that whether one practices virtue or vice depends solely on whether grace or temptation is stronger. In Jansenistic practice, “virtue” ends up by being manifested in rigorism and (false) mysticism because these things are judged to be signs of what otherwise cannot be seen or determined, namely, that grace is stronger than temptation. So in fact, traditional Catholic practices can be exactly what the Jansenist uses as the yardstick of holiness: the more of them the better, the stricter the better, the more uniform and unbending the external measure, the better.

    This is not a critique of traditional piety. But that you see it as such is understandable given your position:

    As far as respect for an approach goes, this idea of “postconciliar popes” strikes me as being quite telling. I’ve heard this kind of attitude before; it’s usually followed by stubborn refusal of anything traditional.

    In fact, the postconciliar popes embrace both traditional piety and an openness to the what the Spirit is saying to the Church right now. The disjunction you suggest does not come from the popes, nor from anything I or Kyle have suggested here.

  26. frangelo,
    (BTW, it might be wise to consider writing it “fr_angelo”. I first interpreted it as “fran gelo” or something like that. Big difference. Fr Angelo might have a clue. Some fran person..well, who knows.)
    I can’t agree with you that I’ve missed the point with Kyle’s thoughts. I’m aware that Jansenism isn’t entirely reduced to impossible redemption, that was essentially the VERY brief Cliff’s Notes version. I emphasize that, even though many faithful, possibly even many bishops, embraced Jansenistic ideas, a more rigorous understanding of the Church’s teaching would probably demonstrate that a Jansenistic frame of mind can’t be reconciled with Catholic faith. If indeed, many bishops didn’t see it that way, well, many “fell for” Arianism too. Being consecrated as bishops didn’t save them from really bad judgement.
    I made a fuss about “the basics” like Rosaries and whatnot because, well, Kyle mentioned it. Twice. From reading his comments, one almost thinks he views such prayers, intentions, and efforts as being pretty hit or miss, highly prone to error. If one focuses exclusively on these, one places oneself at serious risk of failing horribly. I didn’t disagree with that. On the other hand, I notice how most people my age and younger, never learned anything useful about these devotions or practices in the first place. Instead of Rosaries and whatnot, we got fairly folksy Masses, misplaced emphasis on community, and little useful theological or philosophical training at all. Even though I and others graduated from a public high school, the vast majority of the faith’s traditions, practices, and teachings were still mostly alien to us when we reached our 20’s. Only by trial, error, dumb curiousity, and keeping attuned to the Church even remotely have some of us even realized how crucial some of these older practices really could be. I find it appalling that we never even studied any of the Church Fathers, never head about Humanae Vitae, never even learned about what actually came out of Vatican II. We heard tons about the “Spirit of Vatican II”, but never learned what the Couhcil actually said or did..
    if one can misuse various practices or devotions because you’re motivated by incorrect ideas, so too can one misuse the same by failing to use them at all.

    And here again, even if Madonna House or a community might do things correctly, this original posting spoke about the overall charismatic movement at large, not a very few particular good examples. I don’t have much confidence in charismatic renewal in general because I see little evidence that such renewal precisely holds itself accountable to appropriate authority. In fact, within the last two years, even if the two communities I remember hearing about weren’t necessarily disbanded or examined more carefully due to faith abuses, that either needed examination from a bishop or cardinal strikes me as being a problem.

    I mentioned anything about “postconciliar” popes because I hear this term now and then, I think it a less than helpful reference. If we intend that our Church be one, united, and presenting an unchanged teaching, it’d be a good thing if we didn’t emphasize “old” versus “new” so much. If we’re to be pursuing a hermeneutic of continuity, it’d help if we didn’t use so many references to rupture unless we wish to see something changed.

  27. Crud, just re-read that last post. I meant to comment that I graduated from a Catholic high school, not a public one. Unfortunately, from what I’ve heard, CCD hasn’t been much more helpful for public school kids than Theology class was for us.

  28. PS. With all that having been said, I think it unlikely that I have much else to speak about on this matter. I must get on with life. Take care everyone.

  29. Pingback: The Church is Hierarchical and Charismatic | Mary Victrix

  30. Pingback: Pope Francis on the Holy Spirit | Mary Victrix

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