Questions about the charismatic renewal...

How can glossolalia be a gift of the Holy Spirit if there seems to be no record of any modern Saints using it? the same thing with being ‘slain in the Spirit,’ I have yet to see a video of Padre Pio, Mother Teresa, Pius X or any other Saint slaying anyone in the Spirit or breaking out into ‘tongues,’ also, how can the Charismatic Renewal be a work of the Holy Spirit if it started in protestant churches?

At the risk of alienating or incurring the wrath of “charismatic Catholics” reading this thread, I can only say the following regarding your question:

  1. I never heard of “charismatic Catholicism” until the 1970’s - post Vatican II.

  2. I never heard a guitar, drum, boom-box at a mass until the 1970’s - post Vatican II.

  3. I never saw people “dance” during Mass until the 1970’s - post Vatican II.

  4. I never heard Catholics “speaking in tongues” during Mass until the 1970’s - post Vatican II.

  5. I never saw Catholics imitating the priest during Mass, by assuming the “orans” position, raising their arms when the priest consecrates the bread and wine, and speaking parts of the Mass that are specifically reserved for the priest until the 1970’s - post Vatican II.

I have YET to hear anyone explain to me why the Holy Spirit would cause someone to speak gibberish as if to deliver a message to those hearing the gibberish, when no one, including the person speaking the gibberish, can tell you what in the world that person is saying.

Don’t you think that is a rather odd way of getting a point across - causing someone to make noises that no one can understand?

P.S. And you are correct - “charismatic renewal” began with protestantism and did not migrate to Catholics until after Vatican II.

I know a number of good, solid charismatic Catholics, but I am yet to have my questions answered adequately.

And that is where it should stay!. In protestant churches. It is not Catholic or Orthodox at all!.

Seems simple enough to simply ask for the necessary criteria to discern its validity. Who is translating, and from them, what the prophecy or message is. I never heard an adequate answer in a Protestant, (more correctly pentecostal) church in several decades. In all those cases, the only purpose I saw was a form of personal ecstatic state or emotional high, but none of the hallmarks of authenticity.

In fact, I would more expect to experience a valid episode of glossolalia and the correct answers from Catholic charismatics, but you don’t hear that either. I’m not opposed to the idea or unwilling to experience it as a listener, speaker, or interpreter, but so far, I’ve seen nothing verifiable or that meets the correct criteria. I had an AoG pastor friend tell me she had heard that our Pope speaks in tongues. That makes me pretty curious, but I’m a little incredulous.

Agreed! How can you get more charismatic than the action of the Holy Spirit than what occurs at every Catholic Liturgy?

Mikaele, you said: “I know a number of good, solid charismatic Catholics, but I am yet to have my questions answered adequately.”

I am not disparging your friends and I am sure they believe everything the Catholic Church obliges them to believe.

But don’t you think you really answered your own question by the way you asked it?

Perhaps you should consider the fact that the absences of “charismatic” acts by “holy” or “devout” Catholics, as typically seen in protestant churches/preachers, is a sign in itself that the “speaking in tongues” is (sorry for appellation) “bogus”.

As I said above: what possible purpose could the Holy Spirit serve to cause someone to break out in speaking gibberish that NO ONE, including the speaker, can understand? If the Holy Spirit had a message to convey, I think the Holy Spirit would choose words that people would understand.

From a Catholic perspective, “speaking in tongues” has always referred to the instance where someone spoke either in their own language but it was understood by others who understood only their own native tongue, or someone spoke in a language that was not native to the speaker and the speaker had no training or experience in speaking/understanding the language he was speaking.

I know the forum rules prohibit us from denigrating other faiths, but I don’t think I go astray of that prohibition when I say that watching a protestant on TV (and I HAVE seen this) crawl on all fours and bark like a dog is, quite frankly, hilarious and disgusting at the same time. To me, that mocks God.

If Benny Hinn can really cure people by simply waiving his suit coat above his head like a cheerleader, and then see people fall down like they are doing a “human wave falldown”, then I am obviously attached to the wrong faith . . . :shrug:

There is clear scriptural evidence of speaking in tongues in the first century church. It was not only done by the apostles, and not only in understandable earthly foreign languages as described at the Pentecost.

Paul says this:

1 Corinthians 12:7-10 - *But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit… to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
Paul also says:

1 Corinthians 14:2,5 - *For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries… I wish you all spoke with tongues…

Look here for lots of information and discussion:

There are different tongues-but the problem is that for some reason you all dwell on it.It is the smallest of the gifts.IU don’t speak in tongues.As far as charismatic gifts- the saints had them aplenty-many had one on one conversations with God that lifted them out of their body-leaving their bodies inert and on the floor-check out some of the lives of the saints.They also had gifts of prophecy.Do you think that the Gifts that God through the Holy Spirit gives us are impermanent? The Canon is closed but the gifts inside that Canon haven’t been closed- how could they be? they are from God- he never reneges.Does the Scripture say anywhere that the Spirit’s gifts are for a short time only. Jesus say that we will have power when the Holy Spirit comes upon us and we are to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth. The Trinity has a covenant with us-The firm of The Father, Son and Holy Spirit never break a contract.we do. Greatest gift is love of course. And shouldn’t the Charismatics of the world be loved by their fellow Christians instead of being held in contempt. The touch of the Holy Spirit is a gift to us-like miracles to lift up our faith. We recently had a miraculous touch of the Holy Spirit when someone who was a Traditionalist was dragged kicking and screaming by his wife to a healing mass. Down he went like a ton of bricks-he said "if I never experienced it-I would have never believed it.I always thought you people were crazy and not catholic."well the Eucharist was there the Father was there and The Holy Spirit was there in power.It’s kinda of like a gas burner you have the pilot light- which is always on-that’s the Holy Spirit in you from Baptism. When you have been touched by the Holy Spirit in a personal manner it’s like the burner is set up full blast-think of those in the upper room- their faith was set ablaze. And this is how this man felt after he returned he felt like he had a couple of glasses of wine. Apostles Pentacost -these guys look giddy they must have been hitting the vino. Why would the Holy Spirit stop that personal encounter.We are a community but we are also individuals.The Lord God who created us knows this-so why wouldn’t folks be touched individually and en masse? There are so many misconceptions out there passed about by fellow Catholics that it is hurtful, painful.Think of the Scripture old and New where the Spirit takes hold.Things happen-things that made some people shake their heads.But that doesn’t negate the reality of what has happened or the power of the Spirit to recreate’s there waiting.

Maybe you should ask the Holy Spirit that question? As per my earlier post, Paul describes precisely what is happening during tongues and interpretation. What makes you say it is bogus when pentecostals or Charismatic Catholics exhibit this gift of the Spirit, which is so fully described in scripture?

You are clearly uninformed about what the Catholic church actually teaches about speaking and praying in tongues. You should consider learning more before commenting further.

Awesome post Julie! You are right. The knee-jerk response against the gift of tongues is the same as the reaction of some people on the day of Pentecost:

Acts 2:13 - Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”


You said: “You are clearly uninformed about what the Catholic church actually teaches about speaking and praying in tongues. You should consider learning more before commenting further.”

Umm . . . I did study the issue of “speaking in tongues” before I posted on this thread. I have never NOT studied something before posting. I would be an idiot to simply throw some opinion out here without even having taken the time to at least discover what the issue was, let alone present an answer.

As far as YOUR post, I respectfully suggest that YOU study what the Catholic Church has “officially” taught about speaking in tongues.

The answer is nothing.

Opinions have varied, but Catholic history pretty well documents a gap of no speaking in tongues from the time of St. Paul until around 1967. Protestants preceded Catholics in “speaking in tongues” by several decades.

The following is a response from a Catholic priest who specializes in apologetics:

In recent years its approach to this phenomenon seems to have been one of cautious acceptance, with an emphasis on the “cautious.”

Speaking in tongues (also known as “glossolalia,” from the Greek word “glossa” meaning tongue or language) has been part of Catholic experience at two periods of our history.

The first was in the very early Church, as recorded in the New Testament. There are three references in the Acts of the Apostles to speaking in tongues (Acts 2:4,6, 10:46 and 19:6). In these instances, speaking in tongues is described as a community-wide experience which assists in the establishment and expansion of the community of faith. When St. Paul describes tongues in his letter to the Christians in Corinth (1 Corinthians 14:5) he seems to be observing not a community-wide event but a gift that particular Christians receive. Paul recognizes it as a gift from the Holy Spirit, but considers it a less important gift than some others and counsels that it must serve, as do all the Spirit’s gifts, to build up the community rather than create distinctions or divisions among its members.

After the time of St. Paul, speaking in tongues does not make a wide appearance in the Catholic Church until 1967. In that year a Catholic prayer group meeting near Duquesne University in Pittsburgh received this gift. Other charismatic Catholic prayer groups began to experience speaking in tongues, and it became a key element in the development of the charismatic movement within the Church. It usually takes place at prayer meetings, but can also be part of private, individual prayer.

Speaking in tongues is not a phenomena unique to Catholic Christians. Some Protestant Christians in the United States, called “Pentecostals,” began to speak in tongues at the beginning of the 20th century. They considered it a sign of being baptized by the Holy Spirit. Speaking in tongues had spread to some “mainline” Protestant denominations by 1960.

While the Catholic charismatic movement has spread throughout the world, and charismatic prayer groups have found a home in many Catholic parishes, this movement would still represent a minority of Catholics. The Catholic Church does not believe that speaking in tongues is necessary for salvation or that its practice makes one a “better” Catholic or Christian.

Is speaking in tongues good or bad? The answer is probably that it depends. St. Paul’s test for judging gifts of the Spirit may still be the best. If speaking in tongues (or any other gift) brings genuine wisdom, understanding, right judgment, knowledge, and reverence to a person or a community, it’s likely to be a genuine gift of the Spirit. If a community which practices speaking in tongues is also characterized by joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trust, gentleness, humility, generosity, mercy, justice and truth, then it seems evident that the Holy Spirit is at work there. If, however, speaking in tongues leads to elitism, a sense of some Christians being “in” and others “out”, anger, dissension or divisiveness, then that particular faith community may be focusing too much on the gift of tongues to the detriment of other gifts which might more effectively build up its unity.

Thus, I stand by my original post/opinion.

I am more than willing to hear an explanation of why the Holy Spirit would cause someone to utter sounds that no one understands. What possible benefit would there be for anyone to listen to someone “speak” gibberish, and come away from the encounter asking themselves, “what in the world did that person just say?”

I truly am open to an explanation - I simply haven’t heard one that meets St. Paul’s “test” of " bringing genuine wisdom, understanding, right judgment, knowledge, and reverence to a person or a community."

P.S. - I was not exaggerating when I say that I saw a protestant get down on all fours and start barking like a dog. If that is “speaking in tongues”, I want no part of it . . .

I have never seen personally many of the things Paul talks about, does that mean they did not happen, and his experience and letters on those topics are therefor unreliable?

We live in an age with a plethora of tech ability, Sal. Speaking in tongues, I’ve always taken as the ability or gift to speak the ‘foreign’ language of others that the ‘vessel’ has no knowledge of.

If that is correct, we can just record these on a cellular and ‘search’ the world in seconds / minutes to discern the ‘vessel’s’ message.

It is a small wonder to me that the majority of the Catholic experience with this gift was largely confined, if I can use that, to the earliest century when the Church was in her infancy.

As she spread, the ‘gibberish’ became ‘known’ as the owners of the language became members. Just a thought.

Having said all that, The Holy Spirit does what He does, and I am not pretending I’ve sussed out His ways!

The '60s?..when it resurfaced…?..well, I’d hate to cite the chemical additive aspect of that decade as quite possibly being responsible!?!


Really? A lot of prominent people in the Catholic Church, Popes included, would strongly disagree with your statement. The Charismatic gifts belong to the Catholic Church, it was after all, in the Catholic Church that they were first experienced, as stated in Scripture. The current Renewal, while manifesting itself after the Protestants experiencing Pentecostalism/Charismatic worship, is really a separate movement. Because of the timing, many incorrectly assume it came from Protestants, it is really a part of the greater renewal of the Church, that John XXlll envisioned when he literally fling open the Windows and prayed for the Holy Spirit to breath new life into the Church. The timing has nothing to do with the fact that Protestants had Pentecostal/Charismatic churches, and everything to do with Vatican ll. Unlike Protestant Pentecostals/Charismatics, it is not replacing traditional forms of Catholic worship,; but restoring the experience of the early Church. This experience was still manifested throughout Church history, by individuals who expressed the charisms, including many Saints.The Protestant got it, like their bible, from the Catholics. The Protestants style of Charismatic/Pentecostal worship also is fraught with many errors and extreme styles of worship. Some of that has crept into Catholic Charismatic circles, which is why the Church from Popes to Bishops to Priests, have to reign in the emotionalism and false charisms and keep the Movement in-line with Catholic Teaching.

Just because there isn’t knowledge of modern Saints using glossolalia or Resting in the Spirit (BTW, Charismatics do not slay others in the Spirit, that is a Protestant phenomena), doesn’t mean it isn’t the work of the Holy Spirit. Saints throughout history have exhibited all manner of charisma.

Saints had the gift of Speaking in Tongues

Tongues and Resting in the Spirit are just two of many charisms; discernment of the spirits, reading of hearts, healing, miracles. Padre Pio was well-known for exhibiting all kings of extraordinary unusual charisms. Resting in the Spirit and Tongues are not as extraordinary as charisms, and are seen among Charismatics that don’t posess the holiness of Padre Pio; it would make sense that they were not associated with Padre Pio, but the extraordinary unusual ones were.


All of the recent Popes have spoken favorably regarding Charismatic Renewal in the catholic Church.

What is the Charismatic Renewal?

Pope Paul lV’s Adresses to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal

Pope John Paul ll to Catholic Charismatics

Pontiff (Benedict XVl Calls Movements Gifts to the Church

The preacher to the Pontifical Household (Also known as the Papal Preacher), Capuchin Franciscan Father Raniero Cantalamessa is a very well known Catholic Charismatic.

“In 1980, Pope John Paul II personally selected a charismatic, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap, to be the preacher to the papal household. He served so well that Pope Benedict XVI asked him to continue to the present day. In 2007, Fr. Cantalamessa was asked in an interview, “Has the charismatic encounter with the Holy Spirit affected your own ministry?” And he replied, “I experienced this in my priestly life, and so I am fully convinced. It makes everything new — prayer, preaching, liturgy — everything is enkindled by the Holy Spirit.”” (

Father Cantalamessa on Charismatic Renewal

(more follows)

(remainder of my post)

Mother Angelica, according to biographer Raymond Arroyo, was herself involved in the Charismatic Renewal; including Praying in Tongues and Resting (sleeping) in the Spirit. “Slain in the Spirit” is a Protestant term, typically used by Pentecostals, it is not the correct term among Catholic Charismatics. And that is what they are, Catholic Charismatics, not Charismatic Catholics.

Mother Angelica-Catholic Charismatic

Finally, no one is forcing you to accept or be part of the Charismatic Renewal. You do not have to pray in Tongues or rest in the Spirit or accept any of the charisms in your life. They are not necessary for your salvation. The Church has a wide range of spiritualities and movements, you can associate will any or none. What appeals to you, may not appeal to anyone else. The Charismatic Renewal is an accepted movement in the Catholic Church, with the full support of Pope and most bishops.

The Charismatic Renewal is very much a work of the Holy Spirit, and it is quite Catholic and Orthodox as well. Like any movement, because humans are involved, it is subject to abuses and unorthodoxy. And the evil one can distort it and create confusion just as he does any where else. True charisms are subject to obedience to the Church. Catholics who have taken part in a Life in the Spirit seminar learn about the importance of discerning the spirits. That’s because charisms can be false and come from the human or evil spirit, as well as the Holy Spirit. A priest can test them simply by requiring the person to cease manifesting them. If they come from God, the person would immediately obey the priest. I witnessed this myself, while in a pilgrimage. While doing outdoor Stations of the Cross, a woman in our party kept “Resting in the Spiirit” at practically every station, Worse, she was quite dramatic about it. True Resting in the Spirit should be a quiet yielding to the Spirit, in which one either becomes still while seated, or slips to the floor with the aid of “catchers” if standing. It shouldn’t be a sudden plop, or accompanied by jerking or other abnormal bodily movements. Nor should their be grunting, sighing or other utterances. One of the two Priest who accompanied our group to provide spiritual assistance, was getting a bit tired of all of the disruptive drama. He finally stopped the group, went or to the drama queen, and commanded that she stop her sighs and gyrations, and get up immediately. She didn’t. He asked if anybody knew the woman, and if they would volunteer to stay with her. He then told the group to move on and left the woman behind.

The Catholic church doesn’t have any official teaching. Recent popes have been favorably towards the movement and the charisms, teachings have been developed and approved by bishops for their diocese, but there is no official dogmatic teaching. See here.

As to what is generally accepted teaching, the Catechism makes references to tongues and other charisms. 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 furthermore special graces, also called charisms after the Greek term used by St. Paul and meaning “favor,” “gratuitous gift,” “benefit.” Whatever their character - sometimes it is extraordinary, such as the gift of miracles or of tongues - charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church.”

This page gives a good rundown on how church leaders view the Charismatic Renewal and the Charisms/Gifts, including favorable statements from John Paul and Benedict.

Unofficial teaching comes from Life in the Spirit Seminars and numerous books written by leaders in the movement such as Father Michael Scanlon and Monsignor Vincent Walsh. These books have been reviewed and approved by appropriate ecclesiastical authorities to make sure they contain nothing contrary to faith and teachings.

Glossolalia is the term that is often misunderstood.

the same thing with being ‘slain in the Spirit,’ I have yet to see a video of Padre Pio, Mother Teresa, Pius X or any other Saint slaying anyone in the Spirit or breaking out into ‘tongues,’

The actual mystical experiences of saints, including prayer, are seldom the subjects of videos. Furthermore, since there is a variety of mystical experiences, would the video-taping person interrupt the saint by asking her or him to explain which type of mystical experience is being experienced?

also, how can the Charismatic Renewal be a work of the Holy Spirit if it started in protestant churches?

Not sure which Charismatic Renewal is being referred to??

However, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal is a renewal of Acts, Chapter 2 and following.

Please refer to my public profile, list of posts, to find answers to the above.


I was introduced to this movement in the 70,s by my mother who was very into it, she is a very honest person and although she was committed to it she never spoke in tongues or any of that but she gradually got disillusioned by the whole thing. Not because of the not speaking in toungues etc as she used to enjoy the more open celebration and she learn’t guitar and played there. But rather she could discern that all that was supposed to be of the Holy Spirit didnt always seem of the Holy Spirit.

I have my reservations about the movement as a whole but I do believe it has opened the debate about how the Holy Spirit moves in the lives of ordinary people and how they can come into better communion with it. This is something that maybe should be encouraged more by the church in the more simple ways without the need for all this over the top stuff I witnessed at the few meetings I went too. It sounds Judgemental I know and apologise if anyone is offended but in reality I can say everyone that goes here is like this but I do see dangers for some souls.



I think your post is excellent - well-reasoned and charitable as well.

P.S. - I am still waiting for someone to tell me why speaking in gibberish accomplishes anything . . . :frowning: If the Holy Spirit wants to communicate something to someone, why make the speaker use sounds that no one, including the speaker, can understand?

Is this so obvious that I am missing something here???

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