This is an abridged
version of a pamphlet which was written after a great deal
of prayer and soul searching. The author stresses that it is
not intended to offend those involved in the Charismatic Renewal
but was written in all charity and out of a sense of alarm
that so many good people were being led astray.
The Risk Is Too Great
The Second Vatican
Council says that when we look at the lives of the Saints we are shown
a most safe path by which, among the vicissitudes of this world and
in keeping with the state of life and condition proper to each of
us, we will be able to arrive at perfect union with Christ, that is,
holiness. It has been my experience that this "most safe path" of
the Saints and the path of the Charismatic Renewal are very different
ways, so different that charity and alarm compel me to speak out.
The spirit of the Charismatic Renewal is simply not the spirit by
which these sons and daughters of God were led.
Walk always with the Saints
and never to tread a different path. Be faithful to the morning offering
and to the mind of Christ Jesus who was obedient unto death, even
death on a Cross.
St. John of the Cross
says it is impossible to attain to the thicket of manifold riches
of the wisdom of God without entering into the thicket of manifold
suffering. Such is the way of the Saints, such is the way of perfection.
But wisdom says "See, ye, that I have not laboured for myself alone?"
No, you do not labour for yourself alone, you are one flesh with that
flesh from which issues every grace. And so you carry your cross for
the salvation of souls. Pentecostalism has no need of incarnational
teaching of this kind. But the Charismatic Renewal will take you down
the path of Pentecostalism, and the further you go down that path
the further you get from the mission of Christ which is your mission.
Lest you should ever put even one foot upon that path of seduction
I offer you dear reader, an account of my "experiences".
TO THNK AS MEN THINK
I became involved in the
Charismatic Renewal in 1977 when I was in my late twenties. I went
to my first prayer meeting out of curiosity and from then on started
to go every week. I came to believe that this form of prayer and spirituality
fulfilled a need in me, or rather I was taught that this was so. Altogether,
I was highly involved in the Charismatic Renewal for some five years.
Leading prayer meetings, conducting seminars, arranging days of renewal,
laying hands on the sick, depressed, lonely, etc. - all this became
a way of life for me. I found myself preferring Charismatic Masses
with guitars, modern hymns, emotional sermons, plenty of praying in
tongues, etc. But my life was the Charismatic Renewal, not my Catholic
Faith. Although I could say the correct things about my Faith, what
was far more important to me was the Charismatic Renewal, though I
would never have admitted this then. But slowly, slowly I began to
develop non-Catholic attitudes, obedience went out of the window.
I put Our Blessed: Lady into my life when it was convenient, only
when convenient. I used her and the Church for my own ends. I was
now capable of going to God on my own terms, I had a hot line to Heaven.
The Saints were a thing of the past, so were good Catholic books,
statues, of Our Lady and the Saints. What replaced them were signs
and symbols such as car stickers with "Jesus lives" and the sign of
the fish. My reading matter became Pentecostal paperbacks, books written
by Catholic Pentecostals which lacked theology, but the lives of the
Saints had no place in my life. I enjoyed prayer very much. When I
found it difficult all I had to do was to start off in tongues and
I would feel good, or to sit in the correct position doing breathing
exercises and again the euphoric state would arise bringing me into
direct contact with God. Yes, life changed for me in every way. Spiritually
it could be wonderful, with some beautiful "highs" and when you got
"low" all you had to do was to ask to be prayed over with the laying
on of hands and all would be well.
YOUR WORDS FALL
ON EMPTY AIR SAYS ST. PAUL
In my early days I remembered
being present at the Dublin International Conference in 1978. Some
three thousand priests were there and there were thousands of nuns.
Goodness knows how many people joined the conference for the last
three days, it was something like thirty thousand. Within a short
time of entering the stadium I allowed myself to be saturated with
the general enthusiasm. I experienced
what I can only describe as a state of ecstasy. When the babbling
of tongues reached a crescendo I remember tears streaming uncontrollably
down my face. I felt very light, and my heart and body felt open to
whatever God wanted to give me. Yes, I was open alright, but to what!!
Every day the team of priests and nuns used to encourage everyone
to pray in tongues, if you couldn't do it they would show you how.
When the babbling started you just started to say the name of Jesus
over and over again and gradually one was encouraged just to make
noises like a baby gurgling. With the sound of tongues vibrating everywhere
out they came, strange unintelligible sounds, but oh, they felt good.
And that was it, you had the gift of tongues for ever. Not everyone
receives the gift of tongues this way. Many of my friends received
this gift in a much less sensational way, nevertheless how special
one felt, how gifted. You had made the grade.
For want of a better word
I call it a gift, a facility is more correct, a natural one. I saw
many strange happenings that week. Looking back I think I saw or witnessed
healings, only minor ones though. I was told the more serious cases
took longer, needed more faith, more prayer. I met the then Fr. Francis
McNutt, I remember people commenting how like Christ he was. And even
now, though it can be clearly seen where his spirit was leading him,
his books are made available to members of the movement and Catholics
everywhere. He was able to hold an audience with his captivating presence.
Many claimed to have been healed by him. One particular woman told
me she had been cured of cancer after being prayed over by Fr. McNutt.
I discovered later that this was not so. It is so easy to be carried
away by enthusiasm. I have prayed over people and imagined a cure.
I have been prayed over myself and imagined a cure. It would take
too long to write about other instances of over active imagination.
A great, great danger is when a person desires a sickness and sometimes
is able to produce the symptoms of an illness in order to be cured.
Whether this is because they crave attention or are concerned with
God's reputation, I do not know, but I do know that this does
happen, and to good, seemingly well-balanced people.
REJOICE RATHER THAT
YOUR NAMES ARE WRITTEN IN HEAVEN
Associated, in the movement,
with the gift of healing, is that of deliverance or exorcism. If a
person has the gift of healing he is, quite likely, able to cast out
evil spirits. I have known people suffering from nervous or emotional
disturbances to be given to understand that they need deliverance.
And so it happens that members of the movement who have the gift of
deliverance are surrounded by people in need of deliverance. It is
as though devils come flocking to the feet of the gifted ones in order
to be cast out. No need for Canon Law on this matter. And it is a
matter that is something quite different from the use of holy water
and other sacramentals of the Church. Incidentally, the prayer group
I was in was led by nuns, themselves schooled and directed by a priest,
a Religious, who is known to call himself a guru. This recollection
brings to mind Hinduism and how its practices can threaten acceptance
of Our Lord's claim to be the door by which all must enter. But this
is another matter, though not entirely. I continued the exercises
and practices performed during that week and, as I said before, I
became quite an expert. I mixed only with Charismatic Catholics; they
gave me strength and support. The prayer group I belonged to became
Socially things changed too.
The prayer group I belonged to became my family. Anglicans, Methodists,
Pentecostals, all denominations, we all prayed together, it didn't
matter, we were all the same. We all sang folk songs to God and held
our hands, we were one in the Spirit, it didn't matter what religion
you were, God loved us and that was enough.
MOUTHPIECES OF GOD
I recall a priest saying
"a wonderful thing about this Charismatic Renewal is that there is
room for pride". How sad that these sincere people are coaxed by Satan
into turning from humility to pride. It is this pride which Satan
uses as his tool to destroy the Church from within, and that makes
the movement divisive, splitting Religious communities, parishes,
and often even families. Where before there existed a group hearing,
as a group, one authoritative voice from outside (e.g. the twelve
apostles listening to Our Lord and conscious that each was hearing
the same thing - a Religious community, a parish, a family listening
to the voice of Tradition and the Magisterium) now we have an individual
listening as an individual to an interior voice and relaying it to
others as a divine proclamation. This supposed gift of prophesy is
used in prayer meetings, Masses, and any other Charismatic gathering.
It is not unusual to have contradictory messages proclaimed
during these meetings. One person (speaking as Christ) will call for
silence, another (speaking as Christ) will call for music, prayer
and praise. At this time someone with the gift of discernment will
decide which is from God and so be it - you follow his command. This
prophesying is also carried further. Outside of the Mass, prayer meetings,
gatherings, etc., messages are given in the name of Christ, maybe
to a parish, a diocese, a country, the world. Often of course, the
message will be a call to fasting, prayer, etc. which is good, but
they do not seem to realise that this knowledge has been given to
them by the Holy Spirit, through the Church. They, the prophesiers,
imagine that they are inspired directly by God; this results in the
Church becoming redundant; they listen to their own inner voice instead
of the voice of the Church. The pleadings and warnings of Mary and
the Seers of Fatima fall on deaf ears; year after year they fall on
deaf ears. But when, in 1966, Keifer and Bourgeois bring the Pentecostal
message, these deaf children of the Church thrill to the sound.
USE AND INTERPRETATION
It is said that the Charismatic
Renewal has brought people back to the reading of Scripture. It is
true that they take the Bible in their hands, but when they read it
they do not put on the glasses of the Church's teaching. Unfortunately
too, it encourages people to use the Bible in a superstitious manner.
Opening the Bible at random to see what God has to say to them or
seeking direct answers about a particular situation - these are just
a couple of ways in which the Bible is used. Surely this is a form
of sortilege, and sortilege is condemned by the Church.
A GOSPEL CONTRARY
TO THE TRADITION YOU RECEIVED
It is true that many will
say, as indeed I myself said many times, that this new movement in
the Church has brought them back to the Faith, especially if they
have been lapsed. Yes many people have been brought back to a "practice"
of the Faith, but not because of a need they have for the Church and
its teachings, not because of obedience to the Faith, but in response
to a kind of revivalism - and this happens to all (Anglicans, Methodists,
Lutherans, Catholics, etc.) no matter what their religious beliefs.
But slowly and surely this revivalism, this Pentecostalism, grows
and grows within one until one's original attitudes (Anglican, Methodist,
Catholic, Lutheran, etc.) become unnecessary even though they are
THE TRUE ISRAEL
I believe it is impossible
for anyone who is involved in the Charismatic Renewal to remain in
full accord with the teachings of the Church and the tradition of
our Faith, be he Cardinal, Bishop, priest or layman. The Spirit
of Pentecostalism is contrary to the spirit of our Faith. I
must warn against the notion that some people need the
Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement because they find in it a great
help which the Church and her Saints cannot give; a notion that goes
on to say that everything depends on leadership and that a good leader
will keep the group faithful to the Church. What happens within each
one is a slow but sure dismantling of the spirit of Catholicism and
this goes on so gradually that it takes a long time before the victim
becomes aware of it, if ever. A time comes when one is no longer aware
of being, the true Israel, of being one body with Christ, fed on the
very flesh He took from Mary and perfected in all virtues, fed on
that flesh that through Mary makes us descendants of David, descendants
of Abraham to whom was said "In your. seed will all the nations of
the world be blessed"; one is no longer brother or sister to the Saints
of the Church, and rather than listen to the modern Saints (in whom
God shows us his face and speaks to us the things our times need to
hear) one rushes after spiritual nonentities no matter what their
religion. In fact one becomes an individual with a direct approach
to God and not a member of a body of which the Son of God and Son
of Mary is the head. So true is this that the leaders reach a point
where they exclaim "we must find room for Mary in our movement". Then
comes a spate of books on Mary written not out of love for Mary but
out of desire to defend the movement. The Charismatic Renewal movement
is always supreme.
From Mary's many apparitions
and appeals one apparition is seized upon to be given special publicity
and prominence. Suddenly the leaders are interested in Medjugorje,
the groups are circularised, and one is asked with breathless enthusiasm
"Have you heard of Medugorje?" And so it comes about that Mary's pleas
are heard. The leaders are to be obeyed. The Holy Father speaks of
Fatima - little or no response. The 'Charismatic' leaders speak of
Medjugorje - enthusiastic obedience.
NECESSITY OF THE
May I add that during my
time in the Charismatic Renewal, I was always led and directed by
Catholic priests and nuns. Even during this time I was aware of the
importance of correct leadership, so I looked to our Charismatic priests
and Religious for guidance. It was to no avail. By their teaching,
their spirituality, their enthusiasm for seeking the extraordinary
gifts of the Spirit, I was led astray. It was at a Charismatic leaders
meeting which was held in a convent that I heard the necessity and
importance of the Blessed Sacrament played down by a nun. Again I
have often heard it said that we do not need Saints today because
the Holy Spirit is now working in all in a special way. One of the
leaders for the north of England claimed one day that probably there
was no Purgatory.
I was told I was too
dogmatic because I said "to Jesus through Mary". These were Catholics
speaking, but I admit that most of what they say is
correct, maybe verbal remembrances from the past. This enables them
to defend themselves by using the correct phrases" but the words they
speak do not express their own spirituality which by a very, very
gradual process is taking them away from the concept of the Church
as "the mystical body of Christ" and, as such, a necessary instrument
of salvation for all.
The change in their spirituality
need not be apparent in their external behaviour in church.
If their behaviour in church is different, it is usually more outwardly
Rather, the change
reveals itself in many liberal attitudes that lead to serious abuses.
I know many well-educated Catholics and even Religious who encourage
non-Catholics to receive the Blessed Sacrament. I know of Ministers
of the Eucharist who will take the Blessed Sacrament with them for
protection against demonic influences. I know Catholics who in general
make no distinction between "Mass" said by Catholic priests and that
by Anglican ministers. In each case I am talking about members of
the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Surely if this movement is "calling
priests to holiness" these things should not happen. And these things
are not extraordinary happenings in the movement nor are they confined
to one area.
It is very probable
that at Masses called Charismatic Masses you will find a great deal
of emotional expression. How eagerly their devotees hasten to them.
How excitedly they invite others to come to a Mass better than any
they've been to before. Often such Masses are much longer than usual
because there enters in an element of "doing one's own thing", dancing,
clapping, singing, tongues, prophecy, etc. If one let one's emotions
show at a football match, it is argued, why not be demonstrative in
the presence of God. I have danced around sanctuaries holding hands
with priests, nuns, laypeople. This is often termed "dancing in the
Spirit" and occurs mostly after Holy Communion, though not always.
Sometimes people are prayed over for the release of the Spirit, or
Baptism in the Spirit, in the Sanctuary of the church. This ceremony
happens both outside of Mass and during Mass. Often I have seen dozens
lying on the floor of the sanctuary, priests climbing over bodies
in order to reach another waiting victim, who after being prayed over
with the laying on of hands will quite likely oblige and fall to the
ground. According to Charismatic theology this spectacle of fallen
bodies is a sure sign that the Holy Spirit is present and is sometimes
referred to as "slain in the spirit".
This or that parish
is said to be "alive". Alive? But with what life?
WARNING GIVEN BY
I remember times when
I have used certain phrases of the Holy Father for the benefit of
the Charismatic Renewal. After all, the backing of the Holy Father
is needed if the Charismatic Renewal is to survive in the Church.
One has only to investigate Church history to see how often "enthusiasm"
has sprung up in the Church and been rejected. The Church has seen
it all, there is nothing new. Pope Paul VI on Sept.
3rd 1969 at Castelgandolfo referred to phenomena which "not
only offend canon law but also the very heart of Catholic worship,
since we find them, dispensing with the institutional structures
of the authentic, real and human Church, in the false hope
of setting up a free and purely Charismatic Christianity, but
which is -really amorphous, evanescent and blown about by any
passing wind of passion or fashion. " On Sept. 24th
1969: "Many who talk about the Church today say they
are inspired by a prophetic spirit. They make risky and sometimes
inadmissible assertions, and appeal to the Holy Spirit as if
the Divine Paraclete were at their service at all times; they
sometimes do this, unfortunately, with an unspoken intention of freeing
themselves from the Church's Magisterium, which enjoys the
assistance of the Holy Spirit. May God grant that this Presumption
of elevating a personal judgement or personal experience into
a rule or criterion of religious doctrine may not cause havoc.
May God never allow that treating these private opinions as
charismatic gifts and prophetic inspirations should lead astray
so many good and well-meaning people." On Oct. 25th
1972: "a pretentious charismatic sufficiency will not preserve
an authentic vivifying presence of the Holy Spirit in these
spiritualistic trends, in which, sadly enough, it is often easy
to see dissent or profane mentalities infiltrated. The needs of
the Church are very different.
Pope John Paul I
had a lot to say, and said it before his election. His very short
life as Vicar of Christ on earth, only thirty-three days, providentially
brought to the notice of the world what he had written. Addressing
St. Theresa of Avila in his book Illustrissimi he says:
are not anyone's private reserve. They may be given to anyone: priests
and laymen, men and women. It is one thing though, to be able
to have visions, and quite another to actually have them.
In your Libro de las fundaciones I find written: "a woman
penitent told her confessor that the Madonna often came to see her
and stayed talking for over an hour, revealing the future and many
other things to her. And as something true occasionally emerged
from all the nonsense, it all seemed to be true. I realised at once
what it was all about ... but merely told the confessor to wait
for the result of the prophesies, to find our for himself about
the penitent's way of life and to look for further signs
of sanctity in her. In the end ... it was seen that her visions
were all fantasies." Dear St. Theresa, if only you could come
back today! The word "charisma" is squandered. All kinds of people
are known as prophets, even the students who confront the-police
in the streets, or the guerrillas of Latin America. People try to
set up the Charismatics in opposition to the pastors. What would
you say? You who obeyed your confessors, even when their advice
turned out to be the opposite of that given to you by God in prayer?"
Our present Holy Father,
Pope John Paul II, when he addresses Charismatic groups follows
the usual format. There is a kindly greeting. There is a word of pleasure
and approval that they have gathered in Rome because their choice
of Rome shows that they understand the importance of being rooted
in that Catholic unity of Faith and charity which finds its visible
centre in the See of Peter. Then he teaches, and the teaching, if
analysed, is a series of warnings. In general these are:-
Time and again the
Holy Father stresses the need for good leaders and good priests with
the requisite theology. But in practice, if these leaders and priests
become part of the Charismatic Renewal and do not remain outside it,
they become moulded by it, gradually moulded by emotional experiences
which overthrow in them that which constituted them a possible safeguard
for others. If they remain outside, they carry no weight because these
Charismatics are not charismatics in the sense that St. Theresa of
THE IMPORTANCE OF
Psychologically many may
be helped by this so-called Pentecostalism (Charismatic Renewal) but
is it worth sacrificing our Faith for this, when a psychologist could
produce the same results? People do not seem to realise that the supposed
cures, mental and physical are either attained by psychological or
natural means. The things they claim to be supernatural are most certainly
natural. I acquired an amazing gift of producing faintness in the
person I was praying over, but in the Charismatic circles this is
called "resting in the Spirit". Both the person being prayed over
and the "layer on of hands" are being misled into thinking that God
is working in them in a very special supernatural way, hence one's
ego is raised beyond belief. Charismatics glory in what they call
Religious Experience and they hanker after it. They will flock to
any teacher no matter what his religious beliefs, who will offer a
"Religious Experience" to them. So they take to themselves teachers
of their own choosing - Charismatic priests, ministers of other churches
and laypeople of all kinds.
They will advertise
themselves as calling people to holiness but the holiness they offer
is not notably the holiness of sanctifying grace and uniformity with
God's will. Rather it is in effect "Pentecostalism" within a Catholic
I write as someone
who has experienced the inside of Pentecostalism, as someone whose
attitude was changed so subtly that I believed with all my heart that
I was right in the Pentecostal practices and spirituality that I followed.
I found it so easy to get people involved in the movement, it demands
so little, no intellect, no will, just the emotions. But bringing
them back to the Truth is a different matter.
I realise how difficult
it is for individuals to separate themselves from Pentecostalism.
Once you are really involved it becomes a way of life, everything
revolves around the prayer meeting, seminars, the particular ministry
you are attached to. Your friends are Charismatic, you talk the same
language. One even prefers Charismatic pilgrimages and holidays to
any other. In fact one can actually feel threatened without the Charismatic
circle for support. There are different degrees of involvement in
the Charismatic Renewal, much depends on your position in life. But
even the minimum involvement has an adverse effect on the Faith.
MY FATHER'S HOUSE
It is now over two years
since I had anything to do with Charismatic Renewal. Looking back
I see how blinded I was by pride, how my arrogance was fed with this
so-called "freedom of prayer". The traditional prayers of the Church
were not used in prayer meetings, one's own prayers were better. The
modern hymns (which could be sung anywhere and by anyone) became a
must at Holy Mass. Catholic hymns which expressed the teaching of
the Church in all its fullness were shunned. In any case the Pentecostal
mood of the Charismatic Renewal called for a different kind of music.
Thank God and His blessed
Mother I began to realise what the Faith was about. I rediscovered
the Catechism and with it the realisation that the Church and her
sacraments and her teachings are necessary for salvation. It came
to the point when I had to choose between Pentecostalism and the Church.
Leaving Pentecostalism meant losing friends, a change in social life,
embarrassment and many misunderstandings. I did choose, I came home.
I came back to a wonderful family, with Our Lady as my Mother and
the Angels and Saints as my brothers and sisters. I returned too,
to our Catholic hymns, with words professing the fullness of truth
without ambiguity or error. I had a wonderful Catholic upbringing,
a good Catholic school where I was fed daily on the Catechism. Yet
even with all this I allowed my Faith to be compromised and diluted.
I was lucky to have a good, obedient priest who insisted that our
prayer group be Catholic. Respecting him I obeyed. He pushed the lives
of the Saints at me, and brought me back to the Rosary (which as a
child I had said every night with my family) and Our Blessed Lady.
At first I tried to be a good Catholic and a good Charismatic, putting
Our Lady alongside healing services, introducing good books and having
Charismatic services in front of the Blessed Sacrament. It was impossible.
Imperceptibly, whether one likes it or not, one loses the grasp
of the Faith.
I now love my Catholic
Faith, the Faith that our martyrs died for, and I ask God to forgive
me for whatever harm I have done in influencing others and bringing
them into Pentecostalism. I am now a catechist and realise more than
ever the need for complete obedience and loyalty to the Pope, our
supreme Pastor on earth. I realise now what the Holy Sacrifice of
the Mass is all about, how central it is, how everything leads to
it and derives from it. This truth and all the truths of our religion
are slowly but surely eroded by Pentecostalism.
Pentecostals, be they Catholic,
Methodist, Baptist, pure Pentecostals, what you will, are characterised
by the PENTECOSTAL EXPERIENCE and (in essentials) by the METHOD OF
PRODUCING IT. The experience is immediate, powerful and satisfying.
It produces a great desire for more of the same and a great zeal to
bring others to share it with them. The EXPERIENCE and the METHOD
of producing it become (unwittingly and very gradually in the case
of Catholics) more important, more central than any other element
of religious worship. THIS IS THE DANGER.
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