Sunday, 19 April 2009

Our New Charismatic Friends

A while ago, and somewhat against my prejudices, we went to a Charismatic day run by a group called something like 'For Christ's Sake.'

I have always had some reservations about the Charismatic Renewal. I like their ardour, but find their approach to liturgy hard to take; further some Charismatic Catholics seem more loyal to the Charismatic Renewal than to the Church.

In many ways, the day reflected my prejudices: lots of enthusiasm and positive thinking, and a Mass I found very difficult: I incline more to Latin, Gregorian Chant, and reverence than to hand waving, bass'n'drums and very active participation in that Charismatic interpretation of those words. And as for their taste in music...

However, we liked the couple running it, and yesterday they came round for the day, with their three boys.

We enjoyed the day enormously. Their boys, younger than ours, knew how to play (not something we always find in visiting children); they settled in well with our four, enjoyed playing in the garden and going for a walk, ate their food in a civilised fashion and so on. Immediately we were inclined to recognise their parents as doing a lot right.

Meanwhile we were chatting with their parents and were hugely impressed: people of real faith, orthodox and committed to evangelisation. Delightful people without that 'holy' veneer that can be so off-putting, but a more profound and reflective faith. The father works as a jobbing builder, but not a great deal at present: there is so much to do for their community. So really, they live by charity, relying on Providence to run their missionary work and support their family. They strike me as more counter-cultural than us, which I particularly like.

Which leaves us with a real dilemma: we are keen to support them and the work they are doing, but I can't see us going to any more of their Masses; nor do I yet feel we know them well enough to explain why without risking hurting them and being misunderstood....


The Guild Master said...

Seeing the good in others and done by others doesn't have to mean signing up for everything they do and think. I know several good atheists (good on a natural level). I have met a number of Evangelical Protestants whose charitable works put me to shame. But this is to miss the point. These false beliefs or false perspectives will take us only so far, whereas God wants all of our will, mind and soul. It appears that you have already found the fault line with your friends. Their journey is incomplete. As a traditional Catholic I have spoken to a few Charismatics who are very interested in the traditional Mass. The devotion to the Blessed Sacrament that many of them exhibit is to be found in its fullness in the traditional liturgy and traditional liturgical practices, such as Benediction (not unknown in Charismatic circles).

The one thing you haven't commented upon, of course, is what they took away from their visit.

Ben Trovato said...


I don't think there's any risk of our being led astray by their charismatic practices.

As for what they took from the visit, that's really not for me to say.

berenike said...

I find it very frustrating that people insist on doing this stuff IN Mass! Every so often I have a great urge to join in an evening of cheesy emotional Jesus songs. (The charismatics are a bit beyond me, though). Unfortunately it's rare that there is something like Youth2000, where the cheese is on offer outside the liturgy :-( I went on a retreat with some partly neo-cat inspired elements - truly marvellous stuff, I was so impressed and edified - except they insisted on wedging it into vespers.

The Guild Master said...


You make an interesting and valuable point.

What most of us have lost sight of is that in a truly Catholic culture we would have a Catholic popular culture too - forums for expression of Catholic belief outside the liturgy. An obvious example from history is the mystery play, an often quite earthy presentation of stories from the Bible or lives of Saints. Another is the Christmas Carol - never originally intended for performance in church but as Catholic folk songs. Other examples are fairs to mark Saints' feastdays at which eating, drinking, singing and making merry would take place within the auspices of a Catholic event, but which would be entirely inappropriate liturgically.

We have mainly lost this sense and we need to rebuild (and reclaim) that popular culture.

Ben Trovato said...

Yes, and what about processions, benediction, high days and holidays! There's so much we hav elost that we need to re-claim (that's one of the reasons the NO crowd introduce silliness into their Masses: religion cannot last long without ritual, and having jetisoned good ritual, they have to invent poor substitutes: silly processing waving the Lectionary around etc: they just don't do that stuff very well...)

I'm looking forward to taking the younger kids on the Chartres Pilgrimage: three days of walking through the French countryside, singing songs (sacred and lay), saying the rosary, chatting with other Catholics, singing litanies, and stopping for wonderful,reverent, EF Masses in the woods; and finally in Notre Dame de Chartres.

Secular Heretic said...

Charismatic praise is probably best before and after mass with Gregorian chant used for the mass.