Q. Some of the people I know at church are getting into the Charismatic group. Some of what I’ve heard about it sounds kind of weird. Can you tell me what really goes on at Charismatic meetings? And if it’s OK, why aren’t more people involved?
A. It sounds “kind of weird,” does it? Well, maybe I can help a bit.
Truth be told, any time you have a gathering of people, for any purpose, you will find all kinds. Some will do or say things that others will regard as strange, but that’s just part of our human experience. Everyone is different and we all express ourselves in different ways. The same is true with our life of faith. There are many traditional ways of living and expressing our faith, but there are also many ways that can seem, to some, as “different,” “unusual,” or perhaps even “weird.”
To answer the question, “What really goes on at charismatic meetings” is difficult because every charismatic meeting is a little different from the next. But there are a couple of aspects that are present at most of these meetings that I can comment on. One common part of a charismatic meeting is expressive praise and worship. This means that those praying do so in a very free, open, and honest way, expressing themselves to God with songs and affection.
But this shouldn’t seem too weird when we look at the many other ways people are expressive. I’m sure you’ve been to a wedding reception where everyone is dancing. While dancing, people can act very “strange”—Jumping up and down, throwing their hands into the air, spinning in circles, and shouting. If it’s okay to do this to the Macarena, why not for God?
Another common focus at charismatic prayer meetings is the use of the charismatic gifts. These gifts are mentioned in Scripture and are definitely a part of Catholic Tradition. Gifts can include speaking in tongues, prophecy, healing, inspired singing, and the like. When these gifts are authentic and truly charisms from God, they are beautiful and will help to build up the community. The key is to make sure they are from God and not from our own emotions or impulses.
I suppose these gifts can seem strange in that they may not be all that common to the average Catholic. But we shouldn’t be afraid of using the charismatic gifts that truly come from God.
I hope that helps. Perhaps the best place for you to start is to go to one of these meetings. If you find it brings you closer to God, then go again. If not, feel free to stick with the more traditional ways of praying.
As long as you’re praying, God will be pleased with you and will help you to live the life He wants you to live.