Sarah wrote:

What is speaking in tongues? Do Catholics speak in tongues?

Fr. Dave Dwyer replied:

"... yes there is a group of Catholics that would be similar to what you would experience in some Pentecostal Christian churches. That’s probably the closest analogy. Where we see and experience of what they call ecstatic gifts of the Holy Spirit. Saint Paul discusses them in some of his letters in the New Testament. Like many things in the bible we figure, oh well that’s just something like Moses lived to be eight hundred years old. That’s just bible stuff. That really doesn’t happen these days. There are indeed still people that have these manifestations of the Holy Spirit.

Now we all believe, all baptized and confirmed Catholics believe, that we have gifts of the Holy Spirit because of our confirmation. That sacrament is when the Holy Spirit gets activated let’s say ... We are propelled by the Spirit to go and do the work of the Lord. So we all have it. But as Saint Paul points out the Spirit comes out in different ways in different people. So for the vast majority of Catholics, it would not manifest in these more ecstatic ways that you would see at a charismatic prayer group or a healing mass where people would be speaking in tongues.

... Sarah asked what it is. Essentially it is a person being so overcome with the Spirit, and in Romans 8 it says that, ‘the Spirit intercedes with groanings that we don’t even understand that is prayer,’ that’s the first thing that we believe that it’s prayer, it’s not just speaking in some other language for the sake of doing that. That someone is kind of overwhelmed enough with the Holy Spirit that they begin to speak in a real language, not nonsense, some sort of Aramaic language, some sort of middle eastern language ... Someone is speaking in a language that they themselves have not studied or don’t understand, and yet they’re actually speaking, we would believe speaking words kind of like prophets in the Old Testament. Speaking words that are coming from the Spirit, coming from God ...

Some few people have this kind of unique gift where it is the Holy Spirit acting in this unusual way ... Saying something that is presumably for the benefit of, not just for that person to show off, but the benefit of the community. Like God giving a message.

The charismatic renewal would say that the gift of speaking in tongues should always be accompanied by usually someone else in that same group ... who has a different gift of interpreting, understanding what it is that this person is saying. Because rarely does the person who speaks in tongues understand what they’re saying."

Source material:

Romans 8
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. 27 And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[c] the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.


Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1965, 1966 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

© 2013 Busted Halo®

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Show air date: April 15, 2009

Name of show: #194

Guest comments by: Fr. Dave Dwyer

Question appeared in show: 8:11

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