In the last article I identified some of the positive reasons I prefer Traditionalism over the Charismatic Renewal movement. In this second part I will name various negative reasons why Traditionalism is better than the Charismatic Renewal movement.
Firstly, the movement is prone to and fosters practices which are theologically ill-grounded and irreverent. One potential point of error includes failing to make the distinction between the power of a priest’s blessing or prayers versus that of a lay person’s. Another may be to equate a lay person’s hands with that of a man who has received Holy Orders; while a lay person laying hands on another person may have significant emotional or physical effects on the subject, the laying on of hands by a lay person has no theological significance on account of their hands not being consecrated (referencing St. Thomas Aquinas, the greatest theologian). This leads into a third error, and that is the failure to target the soul as the principal recipient of grace. Often the movement places an unwarranted importance on emotions, on feeling good, and feeling “the power of the Spirit.” While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it is certainly a bad habit because it deceives the unsuspecting faithful to think that prayer is all about feeling, about getting consolation, and this thinking is detrimental to a proper prayer life every Catholic should be sustaining. I am not discrediting a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit or emotions; both are genuine and valuable and used by God to give consolation. But, I think the “Holy Spirit” is too often a substitute for the term emotion. Furthermore, it is this aspect of some denominations and Christian individuals’ spirituality which lead outsiders to criticize religious people as lunatics who self-induce euphoria to make themselves feel better about a world broken by sin. Sometimes these critics are right. I will admit I am skeptical to the notion of being “slain in the Spirit,” and I think this concept is odd and perhaps unnatural. I suppose you could say it’s a bit too Pentecostal for my liking, but that’s me.
I think the Charismatic Renewal movement does indeed encourage a certain level of irreverence toward the Blessed Sacrament. For example, I do not think contemporary praise and worship should be used to adore the Lord in the monstrance during exposition. Since the only other time the Eucharist is exposed (besides viaticum) is during Holy Mass, and only Gregorian chant should be used in the Mass, likewise only sacred music should be used to adore the Lord when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed. The use of profane music to worship the Lord is, I think, a lesser good than the use of genuinely and explicitly sacred music. I say profane in that it is not what we (should) use in Holy Mass. Profane music incorporates secular styles and instruments which are certainly not bad, but if we bring secular practices into holy practices then the sacredness of those holy practices will be diminished on account of them being secularized. Similarly, ones may ask the question: are we singing this music because we understand it and resonate with it on an emotional level, or are we singing because we truly want to use this music to adore the Lord? More bluntly, do we sing songs because we like them, or because the Lord likes them? I like many newer praise and worship songs (though I really don’t like the Christian music genre, though that is a different topic) and I think they are perfectly good for singing- outside of exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and outside of Mass. In fact, I do think people should gather and sing together good songs because it certainly builds fellowship and community and is an opportunity for God to work in great ways, but, as always, in proper context. We Catholics know what happens when you take Bible verses out of context; why would we do the same with sacredness and liturgy?
I just want people who are involved in the Charismatic Renewal movement to make sure they do what they do out of genuine love for Christ, not for the fulfillment of one’s own passions. This also applies to those involved in the Traditionalist movement and literally every other person on Earth.
From reading this article, you can certainly tell I am much more enthusiastic about Traditionalism than I am the Charismatic Renewal. However, I still believe both movements are conditionally good. I do value the Charismatic Renewal movement because I think it is a likely route for people to convert from some denomination to Catholicism or to revert back to the Faith and get involved. It allows people to give glory to God in specific ways which Traditionalism does not usually include, though it could. I think it is a good stepping stone which leads people into a deep, personal relationship with the Lord Jesus and the Holy Trinity. But, as with all good things, it can be taken too far and, as I’ve lightly discussed, harmful. I do think Traditionalism has much more good to offer the world and hungry Catholics who are searching for authentic, beautiful, truthful Catholicism. From personal experience, though, I think both movements are here to stay at least for a while, so a prudent mixing of the two is valuable for reasons I partially displayed in my past article.
Here is a short summary of my current stance on this topic: I love tradition and want more of it for the sake of myself and the spiritual lives of all the faithful. This is found in a return to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and other practices. Life nowadays is very different from the past, though, and so the Holy Spirit is more needed than ever. This may be found in the Charismatic Renewal movement, though many of the practices and ideas that result from that movement are not good. I wish the good parts of the Renewal would be disassociated from the Charismatic Renewal movement and simply become part of parish life. I support a healthy skepticism of some of the fruits of the Renewal and I am much more comfortable supporting tradition than the Renewal.