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SPIRITUAL VALUE OF CHARISMATIC GIFTS, AND HOW THEY BENEFIT THE CHURCH
Below is a a letter I wrote to a family who wondered why teachings about the Gift of tongues are not widely spoken of in today's Church. It's contents (with some additions), are posted here for your discernment. This letter is based on the Twelfth Message to the Churches from Part 2 of my booklet which is titled: THE MESSAGES TO THE CHURCHES
Introduction - from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
2003 Grace is first and foremost the gift of the Spirit Who justifies and sanctifies us. But grace also includes the gifts that the Spirit grants us to associate us with His work, to enable us to collaborate in the salvation of others and in the growth of the Body of Christ, the Church. There are sacramental graces, gifts proper to the different sacraments. There are further more 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.
2024 Sanctifying grace makes us "pleasing to God." Charisms, special graces of the Holy Spirit, are oriented to sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. God also acts through many actual graces, to be distinguished from habitual grace which is permanent in us.
On the question of why the Catholic Church does not emphasis speaking in tongues: The Church regards this as a CHARISMATIC gift. Unfortunately, since many people today believe charismatic gifts are meant for only a small number of people and are not "necessary" gifts, they do not desire them. And since most bishops and priests seldom speak of these type gifts, many people fail to understand the benefits of charismatic gifts.
In the primitive Church many people apparently witnessed these gifts:
"While Peter was yet speaking these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word. And the faithful of the circumcision, who came with Peter, were astonished, for that the GRACE of the Holy Ghost was poured out upon the Gentiles also. For they heard them speaking with tongues, and magnifying God" (Acts 10:44-46).
(Please note that the above Verse tells of speaking in tongues as a "grace of the Holy Spirit," so why would anyone who truly loved the Church, reject, or not desire this grace?).
St. Paul spoke highly of the gift of tongues when he said: "I thank my God I speak with all your tongues" (1 Corinthians 14:18).
But he also admonished those who spoke in tongues in CHURCH (or during the liturgy of the Mass) without an interpreter:
"And therefore, he that speaketh by a tongue, let him pray that he (or someone) may interpret" (verse 13).
"But if there be no interpreter, let him hold his peace in the church, and speak to himself and to God" (Verse 28).
This was said because when you speak in a tongue you speak to God in a language that is not only not understood by others, but in a language even you don't understand:
"So likewise you, except you utter by the tongue plain speech (an understood language), how shall it be known what is said? For you shall be speaking into the air" (without others being able to understand you) - see verse 9 of chapter 14.
Therefore, St. Paul directed that people who spoke in church should instead give a prophecy so that they could be understood by, and benefit those around them:
"For he that speaketh in a tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God, for no man heareth (understands). Yet by the Spirit he speaketh MYSTERIES. But he that prophesieth speaketh to men unto edification and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in a tongue edifieth himself, but he that prophesieth edifieth the church" (Verses 2-4).
Now in today's Church we do not speak out in the same manner during the liturgy (Mass) as those in the early (primitive) Church did with various expressions of their faith, as shown in this Scripture:
"How is it then brethren? When you come together every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a revelation, hath a tongue, hath an interpretation - let all things be done to edification" (Verse 26).
For the good of the Church and those in attendance at Holy Mass in the primitive Church, Paul was advising more orderly services that were more edifying to those present. He therefore encouraged prophecy, rather than speaking in tongues at Holy Mass:
"Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to believers, but to unbelievers, but prophecies not to unbelievers, but to believers"
(1 Corinthians 14:22).
Gradually, in order to also shorten the length of the Mass, most forms of speaking out in church were not allowed and people were encouraged to instead speak out (tongues, prophecy, spontaneously praising God, spontaneous readings of Scripture, etc.) at prayer meetings.
Because many people in today's Church lack a deep understanding of the charismatic gifts, as previously mentioned, they believe they are "not necessary." But God never gives us any Gifts that are not necessary. In addition, when our faith is weak or not as strong as we would like, we are more fearful of the unknown. For this reason many today fear speaking in tongues and fear the other charismatic gifts, and even put down those who have these gifts.
This is contrary to God's Word, for He says that although you must first seek charity, it is good to DESIRE His gifts:
"Follow after charity, be ZEALOUS for spiritual gifts, but rather (especially) that you may prophesy" (1 Corinthians 14:1).
Many others in today's Church not only put down the gift of speaking in tongues, but they even ridicule it, as they also ridicule the gift of prophesy. In doing so, they show they lack charity and display their weak faith, for they have chosen to go against God's Word on this subject:
"Extinguish not the spirit. Despise not prophecies. But prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21).
If we truly practiced charity, even in our disagreements with certain prophecies or reported spiritual events, we would disagree with love, and by showing clear evidence (not "opinions") as to where we disagree. And we would never slander the good name of another person. When in doubt, it is always best to remain silent and leave the matter to the care of the Church. For only the Holy Father, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith have been given the authority to make final judgments on spiritual matters. (The bishop of a Diocese can make an initial judgment, but he is not the final authority).
No priest, religious, lay person, or lay organization has been given the authority to pronounce negative judgments on spiritual events, prophecies, or on the writings of those believed to possess a certain holiness. And no individual bishop of a Diocese has the authority to speak for the entire Church unless he is the Bishop of Rome, (the Pope).
Examples of those who lack wisdom and have spoken without authority and analyzed writings or spiritual events based on their own opinions, are those who speak negatively about Medjugorje, Father Gobbi, (The Marian Movement of Priests) and/or Luisa Piccarreta (Little Daughter of the Divine Will) before the Church has completed Her investigations of their writings and revelations.
With the blessing and anointing of a priest, and with his prayers and those of another person who was with him, and because I desired this Gift, I received the Gift of being able to speak in a strange tongue. I of course, do not understand what I am saying when I speak this tongue, but God does, and it must be of benefit to my soul or He would not have given me this Gift. I believe it was given to me as a way of expressing my faith in Him and of praising Him, and thanking Him for his goodness.
For when you pray in tongues, you express your faith in God because you BELIEVE He understands you. God is therefore pleased with you and honors your FAITH, because you are doing something which is according to His Holy Will:
"He that speaketh in a tongue, edifieth himself" (1 Corinthians 14:4).
True faith is based upon how much you love the Church and are obedient to Her teachings. For example, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that ALL the Gifts of the Spirit of God are beneficial to the Church:
768 So that She can fulfill her mission, the Holy Spirit bestows upon [the Church] varied hierarchic and charismatic gifts, and in this way directs Her. Henceforward the Church, endowed with the gifts of Her Founder (Jesus) and faithfully observing His precepts of charity, humility and self-denial, receives the mission of proclaiming and establishing among all peoples the Kingdom of Christ and of God, and She is on earth the seed and the beginning of that kingdom."
(I also received the charismatic Gift of Wisdom which has enabled me to express the things I write about on this website and other spiritual writings).
God Bless you,
Vincent T. Bemowski
Understanding the Gifts of the Spirit- "One important thing about the Charismatic Renewal is that it embraces the belief that the Holy Spirit still gives these gifts to manifest His presence and power. Many Christians feel the gifts were given only in the early days of the New Testament, to help the apostles accomplish their important work of establishing the Church.
They do not believe, however, that these gifts are still in existence or necessary today. Can we look at the present situation and feel that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are not needed? We live in a world where sin and immorality are acceptable, where the teaching and divinity of Jesus are constantly being rejected even by some churches and where Christians are persecuted for their faith."
Speaking in Tongues - "No one should feel compelled to seek or display a particular gift or prayer style, but one should be open to the Holy Spirit."
Commentary: The key is, are we open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit? Or do we automatically reject certain Gifts, like the Gift of Tongues? Again, St. Paul tells us: "Follow after charity, be ZEALOUS for SPIRITUAL GIFTS, but rather (especially) that you may prophesy" (1 Corinthians 14:1).
Catholic Charismatic Renewal - "A spiritual movement within the Catholic Church that emphasizes the availability of the power and the many gifts of the Holy Spirit in the life of every believer, and the need for a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ in order to live life to the fullest." I was "baptized in the Spirit" in 1987 and received the Gifts of Wisdom and Healing. For the good of the Church, I recommend you also participate in this spiritually beneficial movement.
Vincent T. Bemowski.
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