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Come Holy Spirit - Help Us To Pray
by Benedict Heron OSB

The Appendices

I have written three appendices: 'Mary the Saints and the Angels', 'Charismatic Renewal', and 'The Gift of Tongues'. I have put these three sections as appendices because I hope the rest of the book will be accessible for all Christians. Obviously very many wonderful Christians are not happy with asking Mary to pray for us. Equally, many wonderful Christians do not feel drawn to Charismatic spirituality and the gift of tongues. However some people may like to read these sections just for information, just to see how some of their fellow Christians pray.

Appendix One: Mary, The Saints, and The Angels

Now I have come to what is for me the most difficult section of this book to write, the part which deals with Mary, the saints and the angels. Indeed I have been tempted simply to drop this appendix, but I feel that would not really be honest I am hoping that this book will be read not only by Catholics, but also by other Christians, including some Evangelicals and Pentecostals. Up to now they will, I hope, have felt basically at home with all I have written That will no longer I fear, be the case with this appendix. However, I hope they will continue to read on, if only to see what Catholic minded Christians think on this subject. In an authentic ecumenism we must be willing to face up to our differences without pretending that they do not exist or fudging them.

Catholics ask Mary, the saints and the angels to pray forr them to Jesus, to God, so do all the historic Eastern churches, and so do many Anglicans and a number of other Christians. Evangelicals and Pentecostals do not. And why? Because they say that our religious beliefs and practices should be based on what is clearly written in the Bible, and there is nothing directly this subject in the Bible.

Catholics reply that alongside Scripture there is Tradition as a source of belief and practice, and that the Catholic attitude towards this and some other subjects is justified by appealing to Tradition.

It is, I hope, obvious to all Christians that there are many very wonderful Christians with very deep and powerful prayer lives who have never asked Mary, the saints, or angels to pray for them or for anyone else. So these practices are clearly not necessary in order to have a very profound life of Christian prayer, which of course has to be centred on Jesus. We also need to remember that "
there is only one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as a ransom for all" (I Timothy 2:5). Nobody is saved except through Jesus. Indeed, Jesus is the saviour of His mother, Mary.

However, it would appear evident to many of us that very many Christian's prayer lives, while clearly centred on Jesus, have been enriched by asking especially Mary to pray with them and for them. Indeed, I myself am convinced that praying to and with Mary helps my spiritual life. I am convinced that my praying to Mary helps me to love and serve Jesus more. So I would not want to give it up because that would, I feel sure, reduce my love for Jesus.

For a number of years I was not particularly interested in going to Lourdes where Mary appeared to St Bernadette in 1858. The reason for this lukewarmness was partly because I was much involved in ecumenical work with Christians linked with the Reformation, and I did not feel that visiting shrines of Our Lady went particularly well with such ecumenical work. However, I found myself leading a charismatic pilgrimage to Lourdes about fifteen years ago and have done so almost annually ever since. The point I want to make here is that our pilgrimages to Lourdes have, I am totally convinced, increased the place of Jesus in our lives, not diminished it. I also want to say here that I personally am convinced that Mary is appearing in our times in Medjugorje and in quite a number of other places, and that these apparitions are bearing much fruit for Jesus.

I know of course that there are sometimes false apparitions and exaggerations in Marian devotion, and papal documents have warned Catholics against such exaggerations. I myself am not entirely happy with pictorial representations which appear to put Mary on the same level as Jesus. Nor am I happy with writings which say much about God the Father and Mary, while saving practically nothing about Jesus. We Catholics would sometimes seem to go out of our way to make it
more difficult for evangelicals and Pentecostals and many other Christians to understand the true Catholic attitude towards Mary. Moreover, Mary herself is not pleased when we exaggerate her role. She wants the focus to be on Jesus not on herself, Mary always points us to her Son.

We Catholics ask Mary, the saints and the angels to to pray with us and for us. What we are doing is basically the same as when we ask another living person to pray
for us. The difference between us and the Evangelicals is that we believe that we can still ask someone to pray for us after their death and Evangelicals do not. The blessings and graces received after such prayer come from Jesus, God, not from the human person who prayed, living or departed. (In Medjugorje Mary once said to
one of the visionaries that it was Jesus who healed, not her).

Having clarified, I hope, the basic position, I must add that I think it should be normal for a Catholic to have a very real devotion to Mary. The Holy Spirit will inspire some Catholics to go further in that direction than others. However, I think there is something missing in a Catholic's life of prayer if Mary is neglected. Mary, my heavenly mother, has a very important place in my life of prayer, but definitely secondary to Jesus, who is my only Saviour. And I think my devotion to Mary leads to Jesus, of course everything is summed up in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Some Catholics may think that in this section I have gone too far in seeking to avoid upsetting Evangelicals and Pentecostals. May I remind those Catholics that Pope John Paul II has made Christian unity one of the great intentions of the Millennium. Since Vatican II Christian unity and ecumenical dialogue have been officially a major concern of the Catholic Church. Obviously Catholics cannot sacrifice their essential beliefs for the sake of unity, any more than other Christians can.

Clearly the different attitudes of Christians towards Mary are an important cause of division among Christians. Let us pray for the day when Christians are united in their attitude towards Mary, the mother of Jesus. And let us try to help and not hinder the ecumenical dialogue on Mary. For those interested in this dialogue there is The Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (address: 11 Belmont Road, Wallington, Surrey SM6 8TE, England).

Catholic minded Christians not only pray with and to Mary, they also pray with and to the saints and angels, who are united with us in the Communion of Saints. When we think of the saints we are not only thinking of that almost infinitely small proportion of the saints who have been canonised. We are thinking of the multitude mentioned in Revelation chapter 7: "
After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lord, robed in white with palm branches in their hands.They called out in a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lord!"

Many Catholics will pray particularly with and to a canonised saint on their liturgical feast day, for example St. Benedict on the 11th July, St Teresa of Lisieux on 1st October. It is fairly normal that a Catholic will have a devotion to this or that saint as the Holy Spirit guides them, and this may lead them to pray daily to that saint. In a way I think All Saints Day, November 1st, is by far the most important Saints' day, because it covers the vast multitude of saints who have not been canonised, and that will include good Christians whom have known and who have now passed to the fuller life.

Indeed, in our devotion to the saints we should surely include the holy people we have known or with whom are specially connected, like a saintly grandmother, whom we may never have met. She will, in my opinion, probably be doing far more praying for you than will a third century martyr from a distant land. I think the patterns of human relationship in this life are likely to be continued in a transformed way in the next one. So I ask for the prayers of the departed members of my family, as also of my monastic family and other departed people with some of whom I worked in a common ministry.

Catholics, or course, not only pray to the departed but also for the repose of their souls. The Administrator of Westminster Cathedral rightly wrote in the Westminster Record (August 1999) that people visit the tomb of the recently departed Cardinal Hume "and pray for the Cardinal and to the Cardinal". As to how much one prays for and how much to, I think we have to be led by the Holy Spirit. I personally normally pray daily for the repose of the souls of the departed members of my family, and I ask them to pray for me and for the other living members of my family. I feel that this really strengthens our bonds in the Communion of Saints.

I have also stuck on the wall above my bed pictures of departed people, a few of them canonised saints, some of them members of my family and of my monastic family, others of the holy people whom I knew and often worked with. I feel that in a general way I am united with them in prayer, until by the grace of God I am called to join them.

In general while Catholic-minded Christians pray for the departed, especially for departed members of the their families, Evangelical, Pentecostal and very liberal Christians do not. Catholics believe that they have a biblical backing for praying that the departed may rest in peace. In 2 Maccabees 12: 44-45: we read "For if he (Judas Maccabeus) were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, so that they might be delivered from their sin". For Catholics the books of Maccabees are part of the Old Testament, whereas for Protestants they are not - the Catholic Old Testament is larger than the Protestant one. (Some bibles include the book of Maccabees with a few other books under the title the Apocrypha). So Protestants unlike Catholics do not think that praying for the departed to rest in peace has a biblical basis.

Before I became a Catholic in 1945 I had never prayed for the repose of the departed. This has been for me a very beautiful and consoling practice ever since. After someone has died we can still help them with our prayers. We can also increase our union with them in Jesus through prayer. There is in addition the encouraging thought that when I depart I shall be accompanied by the prayers of others.

Following the pioneering lead of Dr Kenneth McAll, an Anglican Psychiatrist, I have for about 15 years been regularly celebrating Masses for the Healing of the Family Tree, sometimes referred to as Ancestral Masses. These are basically requiem Masses for deceased members of one's family and for other departed people with whom one has been linked. An increasing number of people seem to be finding these celebrations really helpful. Indeed, I myself am sometimes surprised at how helpful some people are finding them. And more and more priests are celebrating these Masses. I think that this area of the healing ministry will become more and more important in the years to come, especially in those countries where traditionally people have had a special concern for ancestors. For those interested, may I recommend Kenneth McAll's Healing of the Family Tree, Sheldon Press; Intergenerational Healing, by a Catholic priest, Robert de Grandis SSJ with Linda Schubert; From Generation to Generation, by Patricia A Smith, Jehovah Rapha Press ('highly' recommended by Francis MacNutt); Requiem Healing, by two Anglican Evangelical priests, Michael Mitton and Russ Parker, Darton, Longman and Todd. A Catholic Priest, John J Hampsch CMF, has a centre in the USA from which he distributes literature and tapes on the Healing of the Family Tree ministry, (Claritian Tape Ministry, P 0 Box 19100, Los Angeles CA 90019).

Catholic-minded Christians also ask the angels to help and protect them and others. Or they may prefer to ask God or Jesus to send angels to help and protect them.
In our liturgical calendar September 29th is the feast day of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, October 2nd is the feast day of our Guardian Angels. The Opening Prayer of the Mass of the Guardian Angels reads: "
God our Father, in your loving providence you send your holy angels to watch over us. Hear our prayers, defend us always by their protection and let us share your life with them forever".

I do not want to repeat here things I wrote in my last book, I Saw Satan Fall, The Ways of Spiritual Warfare, in Appendix I 'Some Official Texts of the Catholic
arch on Angels and Demons', and in Appendix III, The Saints and Angels'. I felt rather sad when last week a television researcher or producer consulted me on the phone concerning a programme they were preparing on angels, which will obviously from what she said contain much on The New Age approach to angels. When I said the Catholic Church believed in angels she seemed to doubt it, and said that she had been brought up a Catholic and that in her local church they had cut off all the angels wings with a saw! Christians should not hand over belief in angels to the New Age Movement, which exaggerates on this subject.

My belief in angels means more and more to me, and quite often I celebrate a votive Mass of the Guardian Angels. The thought that there is always at my side one of Jesus' angels, sent by Him to protect me, is a real source of comfort. My angel protects me spiritually, emotionally and physically. How many sins I might have committed, how many illness and accidents I might have had without angelic protection? Like many or most people I can remember a number of near misses in my life. Once when rock climbing on my own I had a very frightening and dangerous moment, once a very large bolder rolling down a hill missed the back of my head by inches, and more than once there have been close shaves with cars. Has my protection been just a matter of 'luck'. I do not think so. I think that often Jesus has been using his angels to keep me safe. That being so, it is surely right that I thank my guardian angel - or the angels in general - for all their help and protection. It is also right to ask the angels to protect us - and we can ask them also to protect other people, which is what Padre Pio did so frequently. I find myself chatting with my Guardian Angel at times, being grateful that he is there, and asking him to protect me, protect us, during this journey, this celebration, this ministry session, this difficult situation.

A friend of mine, who lives a very fruitful life for the Lord, has a seriously bad back problem, which has at times caused her leg to give-way unexpectedly, and this has resulted in some serious falls. Now whenever she leaves her home she calls on the angels to protect her in a special way. She also asks the angels to help her carry her shopping. This practice not only gives her more confidence, but, she is convinced has led to less falls and less serious falls. Perhaps her example and other things written here about angels may nudge or inspire some readers to think and pray more about angels. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in this matter.

If you prefer in prayer just to go direct to Jesus, or the heavenly Father, fine! It is all glory to Jesus or to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the end.

Appendix II: The Charismatic Renewal

Why have an appendix on the Charismatic Renewal in a book on prayer? Because the Charismatic Renewal and the Pentecostal Movement from which it sprang are in a special way movements of prayer, which in our times are affecting not only an increasing number of Christians but also an increasing proportion of Christians. Archbishop Paul Joseph Cordes, who was from 1981-96 the man officially appointed by Pope John Paul II as his link with the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, wrote in his book, A Call to Holiness. Reflections on the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (The Liturgical Press, Collegesville, Minnesota, 1997): "The Pentecostal Movement is considered to be 'the fastest growing missionary movement in the world. It is multiplying at a unique rate. A growth from zero to four hundred million in ninety years has never been experienced in the entire history of the Church." (Page 1) (The Archbishop is quoting the leading historian of the "Pentecosta1 Movement, W J Hollenweger. The four hundred millions doubtless includes the Charismatic enewal).

What can one say about the Charismatic Renewal in a relatively short Appendix? I am going to start autobiographically. In 1942 I had a conversion experience and was received into the Catholic Church. In 1946 I became a Benedictine monk, and in 1954 I was rdained priest. In 1972 I experienced what is normally called in the Charismatic Renewal the Baptism in the Holy Spirit or the Release of the Holy Spirit, and with it I received the Gift of Tongues. (see next Appendix). This experience of Baptism in the Holy Spirit was not another sacrament, it was not a first conversion to Jesus, it did not replace my monastic profession or my ordination to the priesthood, it did not make me less of a monk or a priest. On the contrary, it brought spiritual renewal to my monastic and priestly life. It also led to healing from depression.

Before my Baptism in the Holy Spirit I used to spend quite a lot of time in prayer daily, and the prayer felt meaningful and worthwhile. However, after that experience something was added. I felt that I knew Jesus in a new way. Somehow my life of prayer had become alive in a special way. I had especially a new freedom in praising and thanking Jesus, God. I had also a much greater faith in the power of prayer. It was after that experience of Baptism in the Holy Spirit that my charismatic healing ministry started. In fact 27 years later I regard that Baptism experience as an important turning point in my spiritual life.

Not that all my spiritual trials and failings were finished, not that I no longer needed to struggle against fears and anxieties, not that I was a better monk and priest than my monastic and priestly colleagues who had not had my kind of Baptism in the Holy Spirit experience and the Gift of Tongues. However, I am strongly convinced that since the 1972 experience I have, by the grace of God, been a better Christian - a less bad one - than I was before. I am also convinced that my life has been much more fruitful in helping others. Moreover, I became more open to the Holy Spirit and His gifts than I was before.

There are millions of Christians in the world today who would claim to have had a similar experience of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit to mine, although of course each of these experiences would be in a way unique - God blesses no two people in the same way. Sometimes this Baptism in the Holy Spirit experience will be separated in time from a first conversion, as happened to me. For many people, however, conversion and Baptism in the Holy Spirit coincide. For some people the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a sudden experience, as happened to me. They can point to a precise date and a particular place. For other people this experience is a gradual process. They recognise that over the months or perhaps years a real change has happened in their spiritual life.

Recently I heard a lady telling how some years ago now she had been liberated from a very serious heroin addiction which was having disastrous consequences in her life - amongst other things she sold her mother's engagement ring and all her sister's jewels to get money for heroin. This lady was prayed over by a Catholic Charismatic prayer group. She had a wonderful experience of Jesus, was on cloud nine spiritually for several days, came off heroin without withdrawal symptoms, and never touched heroin again. Many however, who come to our prayer groups find it is gradually that they are being spiritually transformed, but the gradual transformation may be no less deep than the sudden experience.

Now I must try to say more about this experience called the Baptism in the Holy Spirit or the Release of the Holy Spirit, or the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I will describe this here in a Catholic perspective with which many other Christians would agree. As already said the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is not a sacrament. We Catholics believe, and many other Christians also, that Baptism properly administered to babies and other people is valid, and therefore cannot be repeated. However, it is evident that many Christians have been sacramentalised rather than evangelised. That is to say, that they have validly received the sacraments, but they have never really been brought to a living relationship with Jesus. This may in no way be their fault. For example, in an isolated village in South America which only sees a priest once a year, a person baptised as a baby may never have heard the gospel preached authentically, or have been truly instructed in the Christian faith.

The Holy Spirit received in Baptism and other sacraments may be tied up within us not only by ignorance, but also by worldliness, by tepidity and by sin. So the Holy Spirit may need to be released in our lives so that Jesus is free to take control in our lives as He wished to do. One way in which this can happen is when in a prayer group, normally after due preparation, someone is prayed with for the Release of or the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

However, God can baptise someone in the Holy Spirit whenever and however He wills. For this to happen, obviously people do not have to have contact with the Charismatic Renewal or a Pentecostal Church. I have met numerous Christians from different churches whose lives are wonderfully full of the Holy Spirit without ever
having had contact with the Charismatic Renewal or the Pentecostals. To start with, I personally think of holy monks and nuns, but then there are the not less holy and far more numerous holy married and single people in the world. And these holy people come from a variety of church backgrounds.

In a booklet, What Does Baptism in the Holy Spirit have to do with Christian Initiation, edited by Kilian McDonnell and George Montague for the Catholic
Charismatic Renewal in 1991
(The Liturgical Press, Collegeville), we read: "Baptism in the Holy Spirit is captive to no camp, whether liberal or conservative. Nor is it identified with any one movement, nor with one style of prayer, worship or community. On the contrary, we believe that this gift of the baptism in the Holy Spirit belongs to the Christian inheritance of all those sacramentally initiated into the church." (page 10).

Archbishop Cordes writes in the book cited earlier: "Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a concrete experience of the 'Grace of Pentecost', in which the working of the Holy Spirit becomes an experienced reality in the life of the individual and of the faith community". (page 11) He goes on to write "that 'Baptism in the Spirit' is a free and unmerited gift of God and is usually the fruit of a free decision, a step of conversion, an act of entrusting everything to Christ the Lord, of giving one's whole life to Him so that He might transform it. It is also the decision to surrender to the Holy Spirit, without setting any limits on divine free action, a decision to receive in faith the fullness of God's grace". (pages 13 - 14).

All Christians are called to holiness. As the second Vatican Council has said: "All the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status are called to the fullness of the Christian life and the perfection of charity" (Lumen Gentium 20). And it is the same holiness: "one and the same holiness is cultivated by all who are moved by the Spirit of God and who obey the voice of the Father, worshipping the Father in Spirit and truth" (Lumen Gentium 41).

So what is special about the Charismatic Renewal and its worship? The answer is clearly not that one needs to go to Charismatic Prayer groups or churches to receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Christians are receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in Carmelite convents, in the Focolare movement, in parishes, in families, and in every Christian denomination and community. The Holy Spirit blows where and when He wills. However, it does seem that in our times charismatic groups and churches are being used by God in a special way to bring many people to the grace of conversion and of Baptism in the Holy Spirit. The rapid growth of the Pentecostal and Charismatic churches and groups would seem to confirm this.

Can one speak of a charismatic spirituality? I think one can, but with variations. I have been participating in charismatic prayer meetings and services for twenty seven years, and meeting the people involved in them, who come from different church backgrounds, and different countries. One recognises certain common characteristics and certain common experiences. So I have in a way felt truly at home in Anglican charismatic services such as those at Holy Trinity, Brompton and St Andrew's in Chorley Wood; in a charismatic prayer group or service in a Pentecostal church; in a non-denominational fellowship (House Church), in a black charismatic church, and in other charismatic traditions.

What are the characteristics of this charismatic spirituality? I would say:
(1) A living personal relationship with Jesus, so that in a real way we know Jesus and not only about Him.

(2) A personal experience of the Holy Spirit, and His working in our lives.

(3) The release of praise and thanksgiving in our life of prayer.

(4) Confidence in the power of prayer and a serious life of intercession.

(5) Learning to listen to Jesus, God.

(6) Spending enough time in prayer. When Christians get involved in the Charismatic Renewal they normally spend considerably more time in prayer.

(7) A love for the Bible and the practice of reading it prayerfully.

(8) Catholics who become involved in the Charismatic Renewal normally find that the Eucharist means more to them, as also the other sacraments and devotion to Mary.

(9) A concern for evangelisation and actually doing more to spread the Gospel.

(10) A desire to grow in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These gifts would include for the group as a whole, the gifts of Tongues, Prophecy and Healing, in order to serve Christ's Kingdom more fruitfully.

(11) The practice of some fasting from food and drink, health permitting.

(12) Seeking to build up Christian community, which of course covers a wide range of activities.

One could object that most of the above points apply to any sOund Christian spiritually. Very true. The last thing I would want to do is to claim monopolies for the Charismatic Renewal. Indeed some of the above characteristics may normally be more in evidence in other spiritualities, for example, Bible reading in the Neo-Catechuminate, and in some evangelical groups. Let us thank God for the workings of the Holy Spirit wherever they are to be found!

I think something more needs to be said here about the gifts or charisms of the Holy Spirit. As Archbishop Cordes wrote in his book A Call to Holiness referred to earlier: "As fruits of Pentecost, charisms have never been absent from the life of the Church. The twentieth century has seen, through a new and intense Outpouring of the Holy Spirit, also a new and more intense experience of these charisms among God's people in order to minister more adequately to the needs of our time". (page 42)

One charism which seems to be especially linked with the Charismatic Renewal is the gift of healing mentioned twice by St Paul in I Corinthians 14. Of course spiritual and emotional healing is happening in every authentic Christian community. And physical healings in answer to prayer are happening in Christian communities which are not linked with the Charismatic Renewal. I know a Catholic layman who knew nothing about the Charismatic Renewal when he found God using him to do remarkable healings, including important physical ones. However, it does seem to me that in general the gift of healing and the healing ministry of prayer are considerably more flourishing in the Charismatic Renewal and the Pentecostal churches than elsewhere in the Christian world. And I find myself asking whether it is right that some churches and Christian groups encourage and fruitfully use the charism of healing and others do not. Are not the sick and suffering Christians
in the second group missing out on something which should normally be an integral part of the Christian community?

There are also the charisms directly connected with evangelisation. It seems to be usually the Pentecostal and Charismatic churches and groups which are most specially concerned with, and effective in, evangelising unbelievers, and because of this they are in many places the growing section of Christianity. Where are the 'evangelists' (Ephesians 4.11) in some Christian communities? Think of the amazing fruitfulness of the Alpha course in prisons and elsewhere, which of course comes from an Anglican charismatic church, Holy Trinity, Brompton. There is also, for example, the large number of converts to Christianity coming in these years from the outreach of Catholics involved in the Charismatic Renewal in Uganda.

If we look at the history of spirituality in the Christian church we find that there have been at times special movements of the Holy Spirit giving rise to characteristic spiritualities. In the 4th and 5th centuries, for example, many men and women went out into the desert of the Middle East as monks and nuns, and they followed their
own kind of spirituality, which included saying large numbers of psalms and fasting. Another example would be the spiritual school of the Franciscans, with a stress on holy poverty. On the Reformation side there was, for example, John and Charles Wesley and their followers, with the rich tradition of hymn singing. Also in this country there was the famous Welsh revival at the beginning of this century. Among Catholics there was the spirituality centred round devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

In all these examples there were large numbers of people caught up in a common spirituality, sharing to some degree in a common spiritual experience which was the work of the Holy Spirit. I think this is happening to some extent in our times with the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement. I have been to Pentecostal-Charismatic services and prayer groups in different churches and in different counties, and I find the Holy Spirit doing the same sort of things in largely the same way. For example, receiving the gift of tongues is basically the same among Pentecostals and Catholic Charismatics, as also being healed by the laying on of hands. And there is a largely shared pool of Charismatic hymns and songs coming from Charismatic sources, which, incidentally, has largely spread to other Christian traditions.

Of course there are also differences. My own spiritual life is centred round the daily celebration of the Eucharist, which would not be the case for a Pentecostal. However, I feel that I have a very real spiritual link with the Pentecostals, and this link is ecumenically important. Pope John Paul II said in an address to leaders of the
Catholic Charismatic Renewal on May 7th 1981: "
By your experience of the many gifts of the Holy Spirit which are shared also with our separated brothers and sisters, yours is the special joy of growing in a desire for the unity to which the Spirit guides us and in a commitment to the serious task of ecumenism". Yes, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal has a special ecumenical vocation which, I think, nothing else can replace.

Have the Pentecostal movement and the Charismatic Renewal their own special dangers and temptations? Perhaps I can list a few areas where there can be

(1) Strong charismatic personalities can become self-seeking and lead others astray.

(2) Charismatics can suffer from spiritual pride and think themselves better than other Christians. (In my experience it is normally not so much a
question of charismatics thinking that they are better than other Christians, but of other Christians thinking that is what charismatics think!).

(3) If there can be true prophecy, then there can also be false prophecy, which sometimes happens.

(4) Things can go wrong in the healing ministry and in the deliverance ministry.

5) There can be indiscreet evangelisation.

(6) There can be an anti-intellectual attitude, less common now than in the past.

(7) There can be an anti-ecumenical attitude, linked with exaggerated criticism of other Christians.

(8) There can be a too narrow attitude as to who is saved by Jesus.

(9) There can be a neglect of social problems, and a lack of concern about the environment, this last surely a common failing of many Christians.

(10) There can be an exaggerated emotionalism.

However, many of the above difficulties are found in other churches, and all Christian traditions can have their own special problems. For example, in the Catholic Church we can suffer from clericalism, and liberal Protestants can compromise over the teaching of Jesus and the Bible, and the Eastern Orthodox Christians can be ecumenically very negative.

Does God want every Christian to become involved in the Charismatic Renewal? As I explained earlier, He wants every Christian to receive the Baptism in the Spirit. But I do not think He wants every Christian to become involved in the Charismatic Renewal, in the sense of joining a charismatic church or group. Apart from the fact that there may be no charismatic groups near them, some Christians are put off by charismatic worship and do not feel it is the right thing for them. Furthermore, if someone is very happy with the Christian support they are receiving in, say, the NeoCatechuminate, or their local Anglican church, or in a Benedictine monastery, God may well not wish them to go to a charismatic group.

However, I must add that quite a number of the leaders of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal started by feeling very negative towards it, and then God greatly blessed them through the Charismatic Renewal. There is certainly something new in the ethos of charismatic worship which some people can find off-putting, even frightening, especially in the beginning. A lady told me that she had gone once to our large prayer meeting and felt she had to run out - she said she felt there was too much 'electricity'. I asked her if it was good 'electricity'. She replied without hesitation, "Oh, yes". But she never came back! Some people find charismatic worship too emotional, but may be in some cases precisely what they need is for Jesus to touch their emotions - He came to heal and transform every aspect of our lives, including our emotions. Some Christian groups can give the impression that they are God's frozen people, not His chosen people.

In every Christian tradition there have been regrettable cases and events, but taking all in all the positive fruits of the Charismatic Renewal surely far outweigh the negative. If it were not so Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II would not have given the Charismatic Renewal the warm welcome and encouragement which they have done. For instance, the present Pope speaking to leaders of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal on March 14th 1992 said:

"As you celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, I willingly join you in giving praise to God for the many fruits which it has borne in the life of the Church. The emergence of the Renewal following the Second Vatican Council was a particular gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. It was a sign of a desire on the part of many Catholics to live more fully their baptismal dignity and vocation as adopted sons and daughters of the Father, to know the redeeming power of Christ our Saviour in a more intense experience of individual and group prayer, and to follow the teaching of the Scriptures by reading them in the light of the same Spirit who inspired their writing. Certainly one of the most important results of this spiritual re-awakening has been that increased thirst for holiness which is seen in the lives of individuals and in the whole Church".

In matters of religion many Christians tend to be conservative and do not like changes. Remember the large number of Catholics who got upset after Vatican II when the altars were changed round for Mass, but now they are happy with it. Understandably many Christians feel ill at ease with the new ethos of charismatic worship when they first experience it. May I plead that people do not say too easily and too quickly, "This is not for me". Perhaps it is not for you, but perhaps it may be; as many Catholics and other Christians have found after persevering for a time. Perhaps you need the healing ministry which the Charismatic Renewal offers. Perhaps your prayer life or your Christian life as a whole has grown stale. Perhaps God is wanting to give you something through the Charismatic Renewal. Pray about it!

Appendix III: The Gift of Tongues

For this appendix on the Gift of Tongues, I am reproducing the section on this subject which I wrote in a Catholic Truth Society booklet The Catholic Charismatic Renewal (1992). The booklet had a Forward by Bishop Ambrose Griffiths OSB.

The Gift of Tongues (Glossolalia)

The gift of tongues or glossolalia is for many people the most special characteristic of the Pentecostal-Charismatic Renewal - as also the most puzzling characteristic. Is the so-called speaking in tongues anything more than giving way to gibberish? Is not speaking in tongues an emotional excess which discredits Christianity for non-believers? What is the purpose of speaking in tongues when the great majority of Christians have found their own language (or Latin) quite adequate for use in prayer?
The first thing to note is that the gift of tongues or glossolalia has a firm basis in the New Testament. In
Mark 16:17 we read that Jesus said that believers 'will speak in new tongues'. We find this happening on the day of Pentecost: "All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability' (Acts 2:4). It happened in the house of Cornelius: 'While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God' (Acts 10:44). It also happened at Ephesus: 'When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied - altogether there were about twelve of them' (Acts 19:6). Twice in I Corinthians chapter 12 Paul refers to 'various kinds of tongues' as a gift of the Holy Spirit. In I Corinthians chapter 14, where Paul is in part correcting certain abuses of the gift of tongues in Corinth and expressing his preference in general for the gift of prophecy, he nevertheless says:

'Now I would like all of you to speak in tongues,' and 'I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.'

In addition to the biblical evidence there is the fact that many millions of Christians in the world today, including many Catholics, claim that they have received the gift of tongues and that this gift has truly deepened their prayer life. This claim is made by bishops and learned theologians as also by people who cannot read and children under ten. In the face of so much evidence it is surely difficult to deny that very many Christians, including large numbers of Catholics, have been spiritually helped by receiving the gift of tongues. Some years ago it was estimated that at least 700,000 Catholics in the USA prayed in tongues, so it will be seen that this is not a rare gift for just a few people.

The gift of tongues is mainly a gift which helps people to pray better especially to praise better. It is also helpful for intercession, especially when someone does not know what to pray for (Romans 8:2 6). Paul in I Corinthians 14:4 writes: "Those who speak in a tongue, build up themselves." Less often, however this gift in conjunction with the gift of interpretation of tongues (I Corinthians 12:10) is used for giving messages, in a similar way to the gift of prophecy.

The gift of tongues is not to be thought of as preaching the gospel to or communicating with people who do not know your own language - that experience was a special grace for the day of Pentecost itself, although it seems that it still happens on very rare occasions. Catholic theologians involved in the Charismatic Renewal do not believe that in general the authentic gift of tongues involves actually speaking in a language that is or has been spoken by human beings. However, there is something language-like about the authentic gift of tongues which distinguishes it from mere gibberish - it sounds like a language in a way that gibberish does not. Linguistic experts can tell the difference between the authentic gift of tongues and someone just mouthing gibberish.

The gift of tongues is not ecstacy; speaking in tongues does not involve going into an ecstasy. I can decide to speak in tongues just as easily as deciding to speak in English - and I can pray in tongues just as badly as I can pray in English, for example, when I am distracted.

The gift of tongues is not to be thought of as a sign of sanctity or as a very high spiritual gift. Doubtless some people are given the gift of tongues not because they are good at praying but because they are not good at it and are in real need of help in the prayer life. However, the gift of tongues is normally an aid to contemplation.
Jackie Pullinger, an English woman with a very powerful spiritual ministry in Hong Kong, is sometimes used to bring the gift of tongues to very new converts who do not yet even know the Our Father. She is also used to getting heroin addicts off heroin without withdrawal symptoms through the gift of tongues. Tongues can be a very powerful gift!

It is not necessary to speak in tongues in order to receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. I know Catholics who have clearly received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and powerful spiritual gifts of healing and prophecy, yet who do not pray in tongues. However, the gift of tongues normally comes sooner or later to Christians involved in the Charismatic Renewal. And the gift of tongues seems often to be the gateway leading to other gifts. Not a few Catholics going to charismatic prayer meetings start by saying strongly that they do not want to receive the gift of tongues, even though they like other aspects of the prayer meeting. With time this negative attitude normally fades away, until the day comes when they ask to be prayed with for the gift of tongues - and they usually receive it. Some Catholics tend to be over-cerebral in the field of the conscious intellect - indeed they tend to be afraid of all religious experience. Such Catholics may find the gift of tongues difficult, but perhaps it would be a real help to them, for it could give them greater spiritual freedom. There is a sense in which we have to be willing to become a fool for Christ's sake, and for some people this can apply to receiving the gift of tongues.

Much that I have written here will seem very bewildering to many readers. Let me assure them that when I first heard someone praying in tongues I myself was most suspicious and highly sceptical. However, I was won over when I first heard many people in a large gathering singing in tongues, and this has been a sign to many other people also. Sometimes at a charismatic gathering for worship, people will start singing in tongues together, and this can create a very beautiful harmonious and spiritually uplifting sound which no scientist can explain. There is no human conductor, no fixed words, no fixed music, no preparations beforehand, yet instead of being total chaos it can be very inspiring spiritually, a sign that the Holy Spirit is at work in the gift of tongues. I can only say, go and experience it for yourself!"

I received the Gift of Tongues in 1972, and this gift means more and more to me as the years go by. I pray in tongues a number of times every day. I am sure that my prayer life, like that of millions of other Christians, has been greatly enriched by this gift. However, I am equally sure that many Christians who do not have the Gift of Tongues are certainly better prayers than I am.

Should some readers wonder whether God wants them to receive this gift, pray about it. If you feel that He does, ask the Holy Spirit to give you this gift. You should probably also go to some charismatic church or prayer group and ask them to pray with you for the gift, to the Glory of the Father, from whom all good things come.

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Copyright © 2000 Benedict M. Heron OSB

This Version: 28th October 2001


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