Friday, February 18, 2011

A Day In the Life

Noman had morning coffee with some nofriends yesterday to discuss baptism of the Holy Spirit.  At issue was whether the charismatic understanding of speaking in tongues was the only authentic one.  The mere asking of this question might puzzle Catholics unfamiliar with charismatic worship in the Roman Church.  Nevertheless, there are millions of Charismatic Catholics around the world, hundreds if not thousands of them clustered in my parish and at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.  God bless them!  Noman has great affection for his pastor and fellow parishioners, who wed a boisterous form of worship, song and praise to an enthusiastic embrace of doctrinal orthodox, fidelity to the Pope and to the teaching magisterium of the Church, and 24 hour eucharistic adoration.  The result is liturgy that sticks to the ribs, vibrant parish life, and joyful attendance by young and old alike.  It's the way things are supposed to be.  Noman would be concerned about everyone's getting swept away (including himself and his nofamily) on a cloud of good "feelings"--a notoriously unreliable guide to thought and action--were the evident love for Jesus anchored in anything other than Rome: viscera for instance.  Happily, that's not the case, and this is a faithful as well as fun parish.  Nevertheless, there is this question about tongues, and whether uttering generally incomprehensible sounds is the only authentic meaning of the term.  Noman readily acknowledges that the New Testament is littered with descriptions of this phenomenon, which it refers to as speaking in tongues.  But the description of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4, when the apostles were baptized with the Holy Spirit, indicates another meaning: "And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance... And at this sound the multitude [from every nation under heaven] came together, and they were bewildered because each one heard them speaking in his own language.  And they were amazed and wondered, saying... 'How is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?... Cretans and Arabians, we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.'"  Commenting on this passage in Dominum et Vivificantem, Pope John Paul II notes that Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, speaks before the multitude as he surely wouldn't have had the courage to do before, and convinces the world concerning sin.  This is a fulfillment of the last supper discourse.  This passage, then, indicates another phenomenon referred to as speaking in tongues, viz., the gift of speaking to people about convincing concerning sin--which leads to repentance, forgiveness of sins, and certainty of redemption--in a way that they'll understand "in their own language."  In sum, tongues is more than one type of phenomena.  And while Noman readily acknowledges incomprehensible utterances to be an authentic expression of tongues, he grants neither the exclusivity, nor universality of that form.  But, none of that is why Noman posted on this topic.  Rather, it's that Noman loves the devotion to Christ and apostolate manifest throughout his parish, and also the fact that so many parishioners take their faith as seriously as a heart attack.  In a way, that's an apt expression: the Holy Spirit clearly attacks hearts around here with love for Jesus Christ.  This is as it should be.  Noman says 'thank you' to his brothers for taking the time to speak with him about their relationship with Christ.

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