The Roman Catholic Church is in trouble. There is no denying it. Church attendance is dropping, deep and fulfilling spirituality is decreasing, belief in core Church Tradition is becoming lax, and it even seems as though we cannot trust a sizable number of our hierarchy. Granted, many faiths are suffering, partially due to the consequences of an indifference to and hatred of organized religion. The number of those unaffiliated with any religion is growing; slowly, but growing, and the number of self-identified Christians has dramatically decreased since the mid-1900s. I could go on about all that is plaguing us for a while, but I won’t because despite the current strife we are in we still have God.
God is good, all the time. Jesus is still truly and substantially present with us in the Holy Eucharist in every tabernacle of the world. His Word is still living and effective. We have the Holy Catholic Church. We have each other, being uniquely tied together as members of the Mystical Body of Christ. Certainly, we have been given all that we need to achieve holiness; we have only to seek it out.
I want to discuss two movements that have been growing within Christianity, or, more specifically, Catholicism: the Traditional Catholicism movement and the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement. The former is characterized by a renewed interest in the Traditional Latin Mass, a greater spirit of mortification, and a discovering of traditions inherent to hardcore Catholicism. The latter places a great emphasis on the Holy Spirit, finding one’s charism, and living in a “current of grace.” Both have very interesting things that they bring to the table, and I believe both are necessary and good.
Within recent years, there has been an increase in the number of people, especially younger Catholics, attending the Tridentine Mass. The young people crave tradition. We crave mystery, sacredness, beauty. We desire deep fulfillment, sacrifice, and suffering. These desires can even be noted in the impact that the Jordan Peterson phenomenon is having on the secular world. While these wonderful traits can be found in the Novus Ordo Mass, they are more evident in the Latin Mass. The many of Novus Ordo Masses are celebrated with a lack of reverence due to God, priestly vestments are often simplified, churches are constructed more like Protestant chapels, much of the congregation is wearing clothing unfit for Holy Mass, etc. Having 100% of the Mass said in the vernacular decreases the mystery. Irreverent altar servers pose a great threat to the congregation’s ability to pray well. The Novus Ordo Mass was never intended to become what it is today, but due to the overreaching “spirit of Vatican II” and a watering down of theology, we have seen a dramatic decrease in every aspect of true Catholic practice. As we see now, many priests across the United States are beginning to realize these things and are trying to return to what we previously had. But we do not just want what we previously had; we want more.
If approached correctly, a return to tradition comes many spiritual graces. There is an increase in vocations, a solid prayer life, self-sacrificial love, virtue, etc. I believe I would be justified in saying that as a whole the Church would be in a better place than it is today. But a return to tradition is not all that is necessary: we also need the life of the Holy Spirit. We must not fall into scrupulosity or liken ourselves unto the Pharisees. We need the life of the Spirit, that faith into abandon, a flood of grace, and a personal encounter with the living God.
This is where the Catholic Charismatic Renewal enters the scene. As previously stated, the movement’s goal is to renew our zeal and prayer to the Holy Spirit. While first spearheaded by Christians, and though its fruits may be hard to believe, and while it may be met with heightened skepticism (maybe rightly so), in the end we all still live in One Spirit. God is God. And as Paul writes: “no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, except by the Holy Ghost.” We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, beloved sons and daughters of the Father. Therefore, when we pray to the Holy Trinity and ask for the Holy Spirit to come, we are praying in solidarity.
The fruits of the Charismatic Renewal are undeniable. There have been many miracles including physical, spiritual, mental healings, speaking in tongues, moments of euphoria, etc. that have stemmed from the movement. I myself have been to several healing services where I have been prayed over by priests and laypeople and have had powerful experiences multiple times. The joy and enthusiasm people I know that are heavily involved with this work is truly amazing to me.
It is my hope that these two movements can come together, because I think that they often misunderstand or are wary of each other. I believe that the Catholic Church, our Protestant brothers and sisters, and the rest of the world would highly benefit from the conjuncture of the two. But what would this ideal look like?
It might mean a return to the Latin Mass or a strict reformation of the Novus Ordo Mass throughout the world, a “restoration of the sacred.” It would mean communal praying of the Liturgy of the Hours or saying the Rosary as a parish before each Sunday Mass. Reformation of religious education programs would also be of accord, placing a particular emphasis on apologetics. Perhaps the priest or educated individuals could give monthly lectures on a particular article of the faith. Parishes could hold healing services or events where people come to be prayed over. There could be nights where the congregation could gather for praise and worship music. Detailed instruction on how to pray and nurture a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is essential. Diocesan-wide conferences could be held where men and women from different areas come together in the name of the Lord. Books studies relating to the Holy Spirit or the Blessed Virgin Mary would definitely be appropriate. Constructing a perpetual Eucharistic adoration chapel is a wonderful idea.
In the end, our main job is to become saints. We are to love the Lord Our God with everything we’ve got. This will look different from person to person, as “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.” But what it means to be a Catholic will always remain the same. It is my hope that we all become better Catholics, and I believe that a prudent marriage between Traditionalism and the Catholic Charismatic Renewal is in order.