On the Feast of this great missionary, the patron of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, it may maybe a time to revisit the topic of Speaking in tongues.
The greatest account of this miracle that I have ever read is found in the Jesuit records of Saint Francis Xavier. The one that I will mention now was given as a testimony at the hearings for his canonization. In one of his missionary tours around the Fishery coast of southern India, the saint was accosted by a huge crowd of people who had gathered from far and near to hear his word. They were drawn by the reports of his stupendous miracles, which included raisings from the dead. Xavier did not know the Tamil language of these Indians, which was different than the Goans on the west coast, so he had an interpreter with him helping him to learn and be understood. As he spoke he was given a fluency such that the natives thought he had been raised in the language. But there is more to the miracle. People from further north on the east coast had also heard about the miracle-worker. These people were familiar with Christianity because Saint Thomas the Apostle had reached that area and his tomb was still venerated further north in Meliapur where there was the Syro-Malabar Catholic community of Saint Thomas. These east coast Indians also perfectly understood the preaching of the saint. And that’s not all! There were as many questions in the minds of his listeners as there were listeners. Lo and behold, each person who had doubts or questions heard the answers to their questions in their own language, even though the Jesuit missioner was not addressing those questions in his discourse. Now that is a miracle! And it is unique to Francis Xavier. We know that angels do not preach, but they can move a preacher to go here or there, as they did with Saint Paul in his vision of the man from Macedonia. And, as we see with Saint Francis Xavier, the angels can do wonders with the air waves so long as they have a human voice to manipulate.
Nevertheless, it was a rare thing when Saint Francis Xavier received this gift. Usually he had to learn the basic rudiments of a language and make himself understood in the simplest of terms. In Japan, for instance, he relied almost totally on his companion, a Jesuit brother who had learned the language with far greater ease than the saint. In fact, Xavier would credit this brother, I have forgotten his name, with founding the Church in Japan.
Reading in the Book of Acts about the events of Pentecost, three physical things accentuate the spiritual. In fact, without them, the coming of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles would be impossible to imagine, being, as we are, creatures of sense: mighty wind, tongues of fire, and speaking miraculously in foreign languages.
Today, speaking in “tongues” is a side show of charismatic gatherings, a feature resurrected by the Pentecostals from the second century Montanist heretics. Their mumbling jibberish, needless to say to our readers, has nothing to do with the charism manifested at Pentecost and which Saint Paul counts among the least of graces (charismata) that were given certain members of the Church for the edification and building of the living body of Christ.
“To one indeed, by the Spirit, is given the word of wisdom: and to another, the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit; To another, faith in the same spirit; to another, the grace of healing in one Spirit; To another, the working of miracles; to another, prophecy; to another, the discerning of spirits; to another, diverse kinds of tongues; to another, interpretation of speeches” (1 Cor. 12: 8-10).
Glossolalia, as it is called theologically from the Greek word for language, glossa, ought rather to be rendered in English as “speaking in languages.” For the companion charism of “interpretation of speeches” could not have been given to one if the speaker had not been speaking or praying in a language. Saint Paul admonished the Corinthians for paying more heed to this manifestation of “tongues” than the other charisms which edified the whole Church: “[H]e that speaketh in a tongue edifieth himself, he that prophesieth, edifieth the church. And I would have you all to speak with tongues, but rather to prophesy. For greater is he that prophesieth, than he that speaketh with tongues: unless perhaps he interpret, that the church may receive edification” (1 Cor. 14: 4-5).
What happened at Pentecost, however, was first and foremost, the interior elevation of the Apostles from fearful men, already reborn in Christ’s grace to be sure, and incorporated in His Body through the Eucharist, into confident sons of God imbued with the fortifying power of the Holy Spirit and His seven gifts. They who had put on Christ in baptism were now confirmed in the Spirit of Christ, who, in an instant, transformed timid and uncertain witnesses into the fullness of Him who is the “Lion of Juda.”
I have a friend who is a very involved Pentecostal. He told me once that occasionally he speaks in tongues. When he told me this, I replied, “And what do you say?” He said, “I don’t know, it is the spirit speaking through me.” So, I said, “Well, what does the spirit say?” He said, “I don’t know, no one understands the tongues.” I couldn’t help myself, so I asked him if he could ask the spirit to say a few words right then and there, maybe I could recognize the language. He wasn’t biting. All I can do is pray for the poor man.
What an inestimable blessing to be a Catholic and a member of the one true Church that speaks all languages!
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. bishops' conference, said during his presidential address on the opening day of the bishops' Fall general assembly in Baltimore regarding the Sacrament of Reconciliation, "This is the sacrament of the new evangelization, for as Pope Benedict reminds us, 'We cannot speak about the new evangelization without the sincere desire to conversion'"
As this "Year of Faith" and "New Evangelization" move forward, we will see an increasing emphasis on this Sacrament. Of course, I pretty much get that emphasis every year. You can't be the Director of Faith Formation and not get your full dose of Reconciliation....we teach it, we preach it, we schedule it, we live it, we practically breathe it for more than half the year!
Up until about 9 years ago, when our children received their first Sacrament of Reconcillation, we encouraged our parents to also make their Confessions. As a matter of fact, we were guilty of, well, allowing them to think they HAD to go to Confession at the same service at which their child was making their Confessions. I felt guilty, but not for long. When I would catch a glimpse of a mother or a father coming out of the Confessional, tears on their cheeks, a smile on their face, and then they knelt down in fervent prayer, well....I knew we had done the right thing overall. Sadly, we no longer take the time to do this; but I have hope that with the encouragement of our Bishops, maybe we will find a solution.
I'd like to refer you to a website with a very short article written by a Catholic mom who had not been to Confession since her Confirmation day. It pretty much describes the angst one goes through in even considering going to Confession after a long while. But it has a happy ending (you knew it would).....so give it a read....and if you haven't been in awhile....well.....just give it a read, okay? http://catholicmom.com/2012/04/19/returning-to-the-sacrament/
As you already know (or, sorry to say, should know), our Holy Father has declared this to be “The Year of Faith”. It is meant to be an opportunity for us Catholics to experience a conversion – to turn back to Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with him. The “door of faith” is opened at one’s baptism, but during this year Catholics are called to open it again, walk through it and rediscover and renew their relationship with Christ and his Church.
All of this to say, “bone-up on your faith, dude!”. Once suggestin being promulgated is that we read The Catechism of the Catholic Faith. I did that once. Once. So, I am reluctant to suggest you attempt it; although it was beneficial to me; it wasn’t exactly easy going. This website makes it much easier; much easier. Give it a try and see if I’m not right! “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Simplified” Try it; you’ll like it! http://www.catholicity.com/catechism/
Today was our monthly Friends and Fellowship dinner at which various groups and parishioners serve a good hearty meal to anyone who wants it. Fr. Jim is our fearless leader in this endeavor as it was his brainchild, which began about 18 months ago with only 15 guests. We now serve about 70 guests, and we serve them over 100 meals; they like our food!
This month was sponsored by our school. We served salad, ham, green beans, rice, rolls, incredible bundt cakes from many different shaped pans, donuts (leftover that morning from Hospitality Sunday), soda, water, and milk. Water is especially popular, we used up over 6 cases. And donuts, SEVEN huge boxes; we're talking over 20 dozen!
Even better, this month we begin serving on two Sunday per month, the 2nd and 4th. Most of our guests already knew about it, but some were pleasantly surprised as I went around telling them about it. One guy told me that we don't know how much it means to him to be able to count on such a good meal each month.
But this was the best part of the day. See, we call this Friends and Fellowship because it's about being with people, not just shoving food at them. It has always been Fr. Jim's vision that this be a welcoming and friendly place to be, free of judgement and preaching. Our service speaks volumes, right?
So, about 15 minutes before we began serving, one of the school parents came over and said a lady was looking for "Don" and could I help her. Okay. So I go invite this elderly lady to sit down and tell me what's up. She tells me she has an old pickup truck that, being 72 years old herself, she can no longer drive, but she was thinking that maybe St. Vincent de Paul might like to borrow it sometimes. Um, sure, I tell her, not mentioning the impracticality of it. I take down her name and phone number and assure her that our President will give her a call. Then I invite her to stay and eat. She asks if I'm sure, and tell her that I am. I take her in and have her sit with a group of other elders who are there every month. Then I move on to other duties and sort of put her out of my mind for the moment.
Later on, I'm outside petting a doggie who belongs to one of our homeless guys and I hear a guest leaving. As John asks her if the food was good, she says, (and I quote), "Oh yes, very good. But today what I really needed was the fellowship, and I sure did get it". Wow! It was the lady with the pick up truck. Her words will be burned in my mind for a long time. Who gets to be in a position to be part of something as awesome as this? God is good!
Today is the feast of St. Edward which the parish will celebrate on Sunday. Today is also the Birthday of our Parish Director of Music, Sam Dorlaque. Why doesn't everyone chime in here and wish him a blessed birthday.
News and views from the Catholic Parish of St. Edward in Newark, CA