Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thoughts on charismatic Catholicism

I read an interesting post over on Darwin Catholic about healing masses and the charismatic movement in the Catholic Church. I don't want to start an argument or hurt any one's feelings here, just going to share my personal thoughts and experience.

The parish and high school youth group where I grew up was rather charismatic. I am a fairly reserved person, but eventually I let go and enjoyed the high. I think I was particularly vulnerable and emotional because of broken family teenage angst. Looking back, I had lots of "spiritual" experiences, but my faith was not very deep, and I was susceptible to Protestant/evangelical arguments against Catholicism. (Maybe there are charismatic parishes that are also very orthodox, but they don't usually seem that way, do they?) I joined a nondenominational musical group and toured for two summers sharing my testimony, mostly in Catholic churches, and lead people in prayer as they recommitted their lives to a personal relationship with Jesus. I didn't believe in "saving" people with the little formulaic prayer, like most of my teammates. But I did see Catholicism as just another denomination, and I considered leaving it.

Then, in college (most people lose their faith here, but it's where I found mine), I really caught fire with Catholic apologetics in college, and my pendulum swung back the other way pretty quickly. I was invited to lead the class and I would skip actual classes to do my research. I considered a religious vocation. Then I decided that marriage and 15 kids was the way to go. I had very little respect for other Christians, and none at all for wishy-washy Catholics. I became judgmental and condescending. I couldn't understand why my mom and my siblings didn't want to abandon that fluffy parish of my youth for a "real" Catholic church. I felt betrayed by my weak sauce CCD and confirmation classes, so I volunteered at the local parish to teach high school youth group. I would give them the "real faith", only to be disappointed that the students and other teachers and youth minister and even the pastor lacked my inquisitional zeal.

I think I have calmed down since then. I still consider myself fairly traditional and very orthodox, but I don't really long for the Latin mass (E.F. or N.O.). I like how some of the prayers are being done in Latin and I like the idea of traveling the world one day and being able to follow along at mass anywhere. But I want most of it in English, and I want to see and hear and understand what's going on. Basically, I just want a reverent Novus Ordo with quality music and good preaching, but no altar girls.

I'm still learning to discipline myself to pray every day, to visit the blessed sacrament sometimes on my lunch break, and to go to confession regularly. I want a deep personal faith and to avoid sin because I recognize how miserable I am, and how badly I need God's help to raise these children well. I hope I am less proud and more humble. I can get worked up sometimes, especially in election years. ;) But I really don't want to argue and debate in Internet forums or write too many lengthy blog posts that nobody will ever read. I want to evangelize when the opportunity presents itself, without being too in-your-face. I'm convinced that I belong to The one true Church established by Our Lord, and I'm happy to explain why if someone is interested. I'm not timid or afraid, but I'm not overly confident, and I'm not going door-to-door. My mission field is inside this house, and my flock is pretty small.

I listen to lots of contemporary Christian music, and also the Catholic Answers podcast. I'm looking to acquire more traditional black gospel music, to expose my boys to a part of their heritage, but I will evaluate the lyrics to make sure they don't represent a non-Catholic view of salvation or grace or the so-called "rapture". I still like the occasional song from the Gather Hymnal (although I can't even hear Gather Us In with a straight face because of the awesome Curt Jester parody (I can't find a link for it right now)). But Yahweh I Know You Are Near was always a favorite (until the Pope told us not to use the name Yahweh out of respect for the Jews...) Here I Am, Lord was a favorite from my youth and I still like it even if it's not perfect. You Are Mine makes me think of my boys - they played that one of our first weekends with the boys and I was holding Bubba and thinking of how I was going to be a better dad than my dad was... sappy, I know. Mostly, I like the oldies and the organ rather than the 70's and the guitars. Occasionally, when the organist is really jammin' on Holy God We Praise Thy Name, or All Creatures Of Our God And King, or Salve Regina, I just have to raise at least one hand (not too high), and close my eyes and sing nice and loud.


nicole said...

I read this. Well said. I'm not a big organ fan. I enjoy the music at LT Mass. I hate the "hornamaphone" played by the head music guy at our parish. I just want truth and maybe some challenge in the homilies. And I am continually thankful for the community we had in college. I realize even more now how unusual that was at that time.

Steph B said...

Just so you know they exist, the parish I attended when I was on a LifeTeen Core Team (in Boise, Id) was pretty charismatic but also very conservative, especially the people involved in LifeTeen.