Speaking in tongues?


I visited services at a few churches other than the catholic church some yrs. ago and at some point some of the members would, so called; start speaking in tongues.The woman that invited me and some other members were for sure putting on a show because they would continually be glancing at me to see if I was watching them.I know that speaking in tongues is spoken of in the bible, and I thought that speaking in tongues was inspired by the Holy Spirit.If so why don’t the catholics speak in tongues? I found it to be mostly foolishness in the churches I visited, but I am afraid I am sinning when I say that. Am I?Could you please explain to me what speaking in tongues is or what the true meaning of it is. What is It’s purpose? TY. Brenda


No, you’re not sinning when you say that; you’re discerning! :). Most of it is priggish nonsense. Catholicism does have its version, however, in the Charismatic Movement. I’ll withold an opinion on that. The New Testament does have some explanations for the phenomenon in any case, which you can look up easily enough.

  1. According to Scripture, it is God’s will for everyone to speak in tongues since Paul says; “Now I want you all to speak in tongues… [1 Corinthians 14:5]

  2. Speaking in tongues strengthens and edifies the believer. “He who speaks with a tongue edifies himself” [1 Corinthians 14:4]

  3. He who speaks in tongues is praying in the Spirit. “What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit and I will also pray with the understanding” [1 Corinthians 14:15]

  4. Speaking in tongues (praying in the Spirit) is a divinely inspired means of praying effectively for others. ** “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” [Romans 8:26-28]**

  5. Speaking in tongues (praying in the Spirit) is the normal scriptural means of entering into the baptism in the Holy Spirit. “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” [Acts 2:4]

“While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the Word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.” [Acts 10: 44-46]

God has defined the proper use of this gift of the Holy Spirit, with the evidence of speaking in tongues. It is not by the whole church speaking in tongues at once.

1 Corinthians 14:23 “Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind?”

I found that using this gift when I was in prayer, really helped me to pray, especially when I was going through very difficult problems in my life.

I did as it says in scripture. I prayed first in my own understanding, and then in tongues. Then back into my own understanding and then in tongues. What I discovered as I prayed this way, that the Holy Spirit would lay specific needs He wanted Me to pray for upon my heart. At the time I didn’t know why, naturally, but it did happen that in time, things would develop and then I knew why God had wanted me to pray for a certain person etc. Obedience in prayer was also the lesson I learnt. The Holy Spirit is the Helper.

I follow the Lord’s Prayer as a lesson from Jesus in how we should pray. Not by praying the prayer repeatedly but by applying the meaning of the prayer to my own life and needs.

**This is an example.
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Your Name.

I address my heavenly father, and I praise Him in my own words,
Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven
I pray for the salvation of my family, and others who do not know Him yet.
When I pray for something, I ask God to answer that prayer if it is His will and if not to shut that door that is of concern in my prayer.

Give us day by day, our daily bread
I pray for God to provide my needs, I get specific as I have found, God answers those prayers. I pray for God’s provision for others, and my loved ones.

And forgive us our sins
If I have sin in my heart, I confess these to God and ask Him for forgiveness and for His help to keep me from sin and the evil one

For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us
If there is bitterness or unforgiveness in my heart towards anyone, I must deal with that. I must forgive them. Sometimes this can be very hard, especially if they have hurt you very deeply. It may take time to forgive, but when I have, it has actually set me free.

And do not lead us into temptation but deliver us from the evil one
I pray for God to lead me out of temptation, and I ask for His help when the evil may be me or things that I have been praying for or if there is a need for deliverance from fear, addiction, so many things that is part of human suffering.

It is important to pray to God about the specific problem at hand. It will yield far more answers and help from God, praying specific to your situation, or other peoples situations than praying this prayer by rote or without applying it to any specific need a person has.


Praying for the Gift of the Holy Spirit
I prayed to God something like this:

Heavenly Father, I pray that You would give me the gift of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. In the name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.




Before I became Catholic I once attended a nondenominational church and the man next to me started speaking in tongues and it scared me.
I don’t think I went back.


Another gift is the translating of tongues. I have witnessed many speaking, but none who can translate. I don’t know if the correct verbage is translate but that’s what the gift entails. Perhaps if you find someone with this gift, it will help you.


They were simply given the gift to talk in foreign languages (not gibberish).
We are not called to speak gibberish.
In the event that there might actually be a “gibberish” language we should remember that Paul called it the LEAST OF THE GIFTS because it did nothing to raise up the Church.

As for nowadays I personally believe that everyone who claims to speak in “tongues” is faking it.


That is what I believe too at this point.


Is speaking in tongues a holy epiphany that comes to you suddenly, or is there a correct way that you speak in tongues as carmenp1 explained it. Not sure if epiphany is the right word. lol You know what I mean just suddenly happens.
Thank you all for your answers, I do have a better understanding of what speaking in tongues means now.


In reality, I know many Catholics who speak in tongues. Speaking in tongues is no big deal (Or it shouldn’t be a big deal, but an accepted charism of the Holy Spirit). I grew up in a charismatic Catholic community. What I find discouraging is seeing some Catholics put it down when they don’t have the foggiest clue what they are talking about. This discourages people from seeking out that kind of spirituality. I don’t mean just people in this thread, but I have heard it from a number of places, even Catholic radio. If you’ve never spoken in tongues you shouldn’t be discouraging others from a potentially authentic form of spirituality in Christ. When you think that your form of spirituality is the only authentic way then you are only fooling yourself (spiritual pride).



If you think that speaking in tongues is weird or strange consider where you stand. You believe that bread and wine become the actual body and blood of Christ. Is it any more stranger than that? Both are unproven and predicated on faith.


Thanks your good answer. I get the sense from reading 1 Cor 14 that he is talking about the kind of speaking in tongues that no one can understand. Because he compares it to a musical instrument that does not make distinctive notes. And he goes on to say that prophecy is better than tongues because it brings an intelligible word that can build up the body. His desire that all should speak in tongues is sincere but he does not make it a requirement. Although, I am not sure why anyone would refuse the gift.


There are two separate distinct gifts of the Holy Spirit which use Tongues. The first is the common gift of praying to God in Tongues. The second gift which uses Tongues is the gift of speaking God’s message to the community. Please notice the difference in direction between these two gifts. The first is our prayer directed to God–like an arrow going up. The second is God’s message to our assembled group–like an arrow going down.

The second gift of speaking in tongues is one of the nine classical gifts listed by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 12: 4-11. These gifts are often considered ministries because they build up the Church. It is this second gift of the Holy Spirit which requires someone with the gift of interpretation. This gift is also one of the nine classical gifts listed by St. Paul.


Taking the whole chapter 14 in context rather nuances what you are trying to say doesn’t it? Taking out isolated verses, without context, is meaningless:

14 Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy. 2 For those who speak in a tongue do not speak to other people but to God; for nobody understands them, since they are speaking mysteries in the Spirit. 3 On the other hand, those who prophesy speak to other people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4 Those who speak in a tongue build up themselves, but those who prophesy build up the church. 5 Now I would like all of you to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. One who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.

6 Now, brothers and sisters,[a] if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I speak to you in some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? 7 It is the same way with lifeless instruments that produce sound, such as the flute or the harp. If they do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is being played? 8 And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? 9 So with yourselves; if in a tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is being said? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are doubtless many different kinds of sounds in the world, and nothing is without sound. 11 If then I do not know the meaning of a sound, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. 12 So with yourselves; since you are eager for spiritual gifts, strive to excel in them for building up the church.

13 Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unproductive. 15 What should I do then? I will pray with the spirit, but I will pray with the mind also; I will sing praise with the spirit, but I will sing praise with the mind also. 16 Otherwise, if you say a blessing with the spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say the “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since the outsider does not know what you are saying? 17 For you may give thanks well enough, but the other person is not built up. 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you; 19 nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

20 Brothers and sisters,** do not be children in your thinking; rather, be infants in evil, but in thinking be adults. 21 In the law it is written,

“By people of strange tongues
and by the lips of foreigners
I will speak to this people;
yet even then they will not listen to me,”

says the Lord. 22 Tongues, then, are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is not for unbelievers but for believers. 23 If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24 But if all prophesy, an unbeliever or outsider who enters is reproved by all and called to account by all. 25 After the secrets of the unbeliever’s heart are disclosed, that person will bow down before God and worship him, declaring, “God is really among you.”**

My bold. It sounds to me that St. Paul rather speaking of preaching to people in their own language. It could be said that when Catholic missionaries go to a foreign land and learn the language, they are speaking in the tongue of the locals.


Post 12 will serve as a handy foundation for sorting out the two different ways the word “speak” is used by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians, chapter 14. Because you are very familiar with both chapters 12 and 14 in 1 Corinthians, may I suggest you give me the verses which interest you and I will explain their relationship within the context.

Of course, other readers may also give me various verses and I will explain which of the two Holy Spirit gifts is being described.

By the way, Acts 2: 5-11 is often referred to as the Miracle of Hearing which is what you described as the ability to speak to the listener in his or her own language.


Why would God need us to talk in tongues?


Are you certain they were putting on a show? Being Pentecostal myself and as someone who speaks in tongues, it’s not always the easiest thing in the world to invite people to your church. We’re accused so often of being weird, cultic and unorthodox. If people were looking at you it may have been from self consciousness or sensitivity to the fact that you were a visitor and might have been put off by some of the things that happened.

There are many Catholics who speak in tongues.

It’s not an epiphany. The one who speaks in a tongue can control when he or she speaks. However, he or she does not control the sounds that come out of their mouths. It’s not something you “learn” to do. You must yield to the Holy Spirit and speak as He gives the utterance.


The biblical term is “interpretation of tongues.” I know many with this gift.


The problem with your interpretation is that what occurs in 1 Corinthians 14 does not correspond to what occurred in Acts 2. In Acts, people who spoke foreign languages heard the disciples preaching and glorifying God in their own languages. The disciples were speaking to human beings.

In 1 Corinthians 14, no one understands what is being spoken (with the exception of God). Paul specifically states that the one who speaks in tongues “speaks not to men but to God.” Therefore, the purpose of what was occurring at Corinth was not for “preaching to people in their own language.” Paul also states clearly that speaking in tongues can be prayer in a language the person praying does not understand. There is no goal of preaching to people who speak a different language because prayer is between the individual and God.

Paul also says that outsiders will call the Corinthian tongue speakers “mad.” In contrast, the people who witnessed the events of Pentecost considered it an amazing thing.


The problem with your interpretation is that what occurs in 1 Corinthians 14 does not correspond to what occurred in Acts 2. In Acts, people who spoke foreign languages heard the disciples preaching and glorifying God in their own languages.

In 1 Corinthians 14, no one understands what is being spoken (with the exception of God). Also, you say that speaking in tongues was “preaching to people in their own language” but again Paul says no one understands. He also states clearly that speaking in tongues can be prayer in a language the person praying does not understand. There is no goal of preaching to people who speak a different language because prayer is between the individual and God.

Paul also says that outsiders will call the Corinthian tongue speakers “mad.” At Pentecost, people considered it an amazing thing.


We could say that anyone who speaks any language is “speaking in a tongue” because the word “tongue” is just King James English for “language.”

What we could not say is that a missionary who learns to speak a foreign language has the “gift of tongues” or the “gift of languages” because the spiritual gift of tongues or languages operates “as the Spirit gives utterance” (Acts 2). It is not something that can be learned by human effort.

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