Readers who have read my book, “From Illusions to Illumination”, may remember that as a lay-theologian in the States I published an article in “U.S. Catholic” entitled “Pentecostalism is Not the Answer” (p.42). In it I suggested that the Church be extremely vigilant vis-à-vis the growing Catholic Charismatic Movement. I referred, of course, to the phenomenon of “glossolalia”, the gift of speaking in tongues, one of the “miracles” that accompanied the first Pentecost, as recorded in the New Testament, where the Apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit (but, Peter insisted, not with the spirits we call hard liquor, for the curious reason that it was only 9 o’clock in the morning !), began to speak in incomprehensible languages. The “charism” of glossolalia is claimed to be possessed by contemporary Pentecostalists whose gibberish is translated by someone with the complementary charism of “prophecy”, allowing the less-gifted members of the congregation to hear predictable, edifying messages direct from the Holy Spirit.
Naturally I would write a very different article on the subject of such credulity and superstition today.
In my book I also speak of the theologian, an early General of the Franciscan Order, whom I had chosen as the subject of my doctoral thesis, Saint Bonaventure, and his speaking not IN tongues but TO the tongue of his confrère Saint Anthony of Padua (p.169). I quoted from the Catholic Encyclopedia : “When the vault in which for thirty years the Saint’s sacred body had reposed was opened, the flesh was found reduced to dust but the tongue uninjured, fresh and of a lively color. St Bonaventure, beholding this wonder, took the tongue affectionately in his hands and kissed it, exclaiming : “O Blessed Tongue that always praised the Lord, and made others bless Him, now it is evident what great merit thou hast before God.”
One cannot but smile (or wince) at the credulity behind both these expressions of Christian faith. They alone would justify this Blog’s mantra :