Q. Maybe it is because we are a conservative, rather staid and undemonstrative people that what might be termed the excesses of the Charismatic Renewal cause at least a few eyebrows to be raised and the claims made to be questioned with considerable scepticism if not completely rejected.
Many people would regard them as the products of mass hysteria, an unhinging of the mind as a result of is powerful concentration upon a particular matter out of balance with its context, am neither psychiatrist nor psychologist, but it appears to me that some of the events reported are more in the realm of, if not the psychic phenomena of the music hall, at least that of mass hysteria. Having been brutally frank perhaps I should itemise some of the matters.
First, the glossatia or the speaking with tongues. How does it manifest itself within the Charismatic Renewal. What are the tongues? Is it a language? Does it have a grammar and syntax? Does everybody understand it, is it a form of gibberish?
A. I must stress that the phenomenon is scripturally based, Throughout the New Testament you will find references to it, particularly in 1 Corinthians 14, when Paul says: "I thank God that I have a greater gift of tongues than all of you" . . . "I should like you all to have the gift of tongues" . . . and "Do not suppress the gift of tongues."
But he does stress that he would much prefer that everybody had the gift of love and anybody in the Renewal would agree wholeheartedly with that. Tongues is one of the gifts of the Spirit. It's the least of the gifts of the Spirit.
As Confession assumes tremendou,s proportions in the eyes of some non-Catholics, as a part of the Catholic Faith, so tongues is assuming this importance in the eyes of people outside the Renewal, It's.a gift, a minor gift, but a gift to be used, not refused,
Q. Yes but what is it?
A. It is a gift of a new language given by God for personal prayer between oneself and the Father in private.
You want to put the situation before God but you don't know how to say it. Well, then, you let the Spirit take over by using this language — spirit communicates with spirit (Romans 8: 26-27).
It is used generally when, at a moment of deep reverence and praise, people just feel they want to praise God and they don't know how and it will come out in singing in tongues when everybody seems, riot only to be given a language, but also a tune which, amazingly, blends harmoniously.
It's controlled and quiet. There's no suggestion of hysteria, no suggestion of being taken over. It's completely under the will of the person using the tongue to start and stop whenever he wishes.
After a few moments of silence, somebody in the group is given an interpretation of this tongue. It isn't a direct translation, it's just that the person knows in his mind the sense i of what the person speaking n tongues was saying.
On many occasions this is confirmed by two or three people in the group who, perhaps in different words, get the same gist of what was being said. In I Corinthians 14, Paul states that the gifts must be used properly and, speaking of the gift of tongues in this sense. he said that no more than three should speak at a meeting with an interpretation,
Q. You will appreciate that ,h m, a inchy of the readers will find that a very strange thing to understand, Of the nature, then, of the messages come, can you give us an example
A. Usually the message is very simple, like "Fear not I am with you," or an assurance that God loves us and is with us and will be with us throughout times of trial or difficulty. Often we find that the words fit in with what has been said at the meeting.
Q. This hints very much of auto suggestion that because you want to make a prophecy or you want to speak in tongues, you persuade yourself so to do?
A. It is indeed a very definite possibility and this is why St John (1:4) said "test the spirits, ' and this is where group discernment is important. Any one person can just be speaking of themselves and it's a danger that's to be guarded against.
But one must bear in mind the
words of Si Paul (1 Thess 5:19): "Never try to suppress the Spirit or treat the gift of prophecy with contempt; think before you do anything — hold on to what is good and avoid every form of evil."
Q. Could not the Group be deceiving themselves en masse?
A. This is a possibility. Yes, I suppose it is a possibility but I think if people are really living in the Spirit • and are really people of prayer and attending the Sacraments frequently. and in all sincerity are trying to be open to the Spirit then I don't think there's any problem. • You could say the same thing about the whole Catholic Church. Many people say about religion that it's a crutch, or the opium of the people; but those who are firm believers in a religion know how untrue this is.
Q. Mention has been made of an experience of being "slain," Can you explain that to me please? A. It's a new experience for me which 1 saw recently. It happened when there were a lot of people to be prayed with and there just wasn't time to pray with everybody at length. Within a few seconds of being prayed over sonic people were. I prefer to use the term "overcome" by the Spirit, and they fell backwards and just lay on the floor quite aetpleaancaeti T on is that while they were lying down they were resting in the Spirit, the Spirit was working within them in a way that I just couldn't attempt to explain. I don't think anybody could explain that. I do know people were different afterwards — filled with peace, joy and love.
Q. It seems to be contrary to the traditional idea of levitation. However, this idea of praying over people. What exactly do you mean by that, praying over people, laying hands upon people? We tend to think of that purely in terms of bishops in confirmation and Holy Orders'?
A. By laying on of hands I simply mean that the normal practice is for the person who has asked to he prayed over to sit on a chair and those who are round about will put their hands on his head or shoulder, or if there are too many people to lay hands on the person. they will join hands with the rest of the group to show the unity of the Body of Christ as they pray with the person for the particular need. Simple, spontaneous prayers are said. and they usually include prayers of praise. True enough, in the Catholic Church laying on of hands has tended to be retained simply for bishops, but I think if one looks at the New Testament one can see that this was not the original use of it — that it was intended for all.
Q. You also talk of healing taking place at meetings. Of healing not just of the Spirit but a positive manifestation of material rectification of a limb or of an illness. Have you witnessed this'?
A. Yes, I have. Before continuing I'd like to refer to the New Testament where Christ commanded the' Apostles to preach and heal as in Math 10 where he says: "Cure the sick." He said (John 14:12): "I tell you most solemnly, whoever believes in me will perform the same works as I do myself. And again, in Mark 16:17: "These are the signs that will be associated with the believers. . ."
Note that "believers" (not only bishops) "will lay their hands on the sick who will recover." Where is the healing in Christ's Church today? The command was quite definite.
According to James 5, these signs should also accompany the anointing of the sick. Thank God this is beginning to happen again today and priests are experiencing the power of Christ in their ministry — to preach and heal.
1 would like to say first of all when people speak of healing, the first thing that springs to mind im
mediate) is physical healing. This isn't the only kind of healing.
Maybe a person who has been bound by sin for many, many years, sins which he just cannot overcome, is going back to Confession repeatedly for the same sin over and over again and then when they have been prayed with, and the power of Christ is released into their lives. they find that they don't commit that sin any more.
This has happened in serious cases such as alcoholism and drug addiction. There have been complete cures with no withdrawal symptoms. That, I think, could he termed as spiritual healing. There are emotional healings. Many illnesses associated with emotions are psychological, nonetheless the people concerned are experiencing illness. whatever the cause. A cure of this kind would be termed emotional healing.
Q. Are these physical healings in fact certificated, authenticated; because to many people they are the only real concrete proofs of what you are alleging'?
A. In the Catholic Church in this country? To my knowledge, no. Healing as a function of the Church has fallen into disuse. In the United States, where healing services have been held over the last six years or so, yes. these have been authenticated by medical evidence.
Not al f the healings are immediate and 100 per cent cures. In some cases there is a very definite improvement, in some cases the cure is a full cure, but the person has been prayed with over a period of time. In some cases it does happen instantaneously.
I would he disinclined to use the word faith-healing. That sounds as though the healing depends upon the faith of the person. either being healed or the person doing the praying. It depends rather on the power of Christ,
Q. It is said that certain physical cures or healings took place at the Hopwood Gathering. Did you witness any 9f these? What took place. and is there going to be any
attempt tO have these cures certificated medically?
A. Yes there were healings at the Hopwood Conference. But no one in the Renewal would claim a miracle unless ii had been medically certified, and such medical processes are slow. We can say certain people appear to be better, and praise God for it.
One such example at Hopwood was a woman who had polio at the age of 13 and was quite crippled by arthritis. She was unable to move her fingers and experienced great difficult) in walking.
On the last morning of the conference, Fr McNutt and his team were praying with this woman for physical healing. They had prayed with her the previous night after the Mass.
After prayer she had been, for the first time in 30 years, able to move one finger on her arthritic hand, This was a sign that with continued prayer a healing would be effected.
At the end of nearly half an hour's prayer' the woman could move two or three fingers on her hand, but, more important, having hobbled up on the platform very slowly she found that she could stand straight, raise her arms above her head and even skip about.
To my knowledge she wasn't 100 per cent cured. There was still room For improvement, but the improvement that I saw was more than enough to convince me of the power of God at work.
Q. It would seem to me that it would be pretty fundamental if you are not to be called charlatans that steps should be taken to authenticate the accuracy of this cure.
A. The woman has been to her doctor, who verified verbally that the adhesions in her bad had gone and he noted a general improvement. As is usual in medical circles, the doctor would not commit himself to writing.
Thousands of cures take place at Lourdes but only a small proportion are ever signed and certified as cures — and only after thorough scrutiny by a team of doctors.