September 15, 2022

Healing & Deliverance – Charismatic vs Monastic Norms

There are two models today in the Catholic Church of ‘Healing & Deliverance’ when it comes to treating a diabolically afflicted person. I will give a brief history of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and its root in the USA. I will also show how the protestant Pentecostals in the early 20th century had a huge influence on the Catholic Charismatic Renewal which started in the late 60’s. Since protestant Pentecostals do not have sacraments or an ordained Priesthood they have a deficient system when it comes to healing & deliverance. Pentecostals protestants deem that all believers are priest’ with the charism of healing & deliverance by praying in Jesus name and laying your right hand over the person in need healing & deliverance. I will show the errors in the protestant Pentecostal model in relationship to power, authority, jurisdiction and the two different types of deliverance prayers and the rules of engagement. Below are some terms that are commonly used in the Charismatic renewal circles.


*Charis – means ‘favor’                                                                                                                             

*Charism or Charismata (is plural) – means ‘a divinely conferred gift or power.’ 

*Charismatic - a Christian who emphasizes such a religious experience   


Charismatic Renewal: Blighted Leaven within the Catholic Church        

by Clark Logan

Charismatic Renewal derives its inspiration mostly from Pentecostalism, which owes its origins and development to John Wesley (1703 – 1791), a former Anglican minister, who broke from the Church of England in 1738 and started his own religious sect popularly known as Methodism.

John Wesley worked on his book entitled A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, completed in 1777, describing what he believed and taught. He rebelled against the Calvinism of his day, with its belief in predestination and its notion of the total depravity and corruption of man. Wesley preached the “Baptism of the Spirit” and developed the theology of the “Second Blessing.” It was John Fletcher, a colleague of Wesley, who called the Second Blessing the Baptism of the Spirit and held that it was a personal, inner experience. The hallmark or sign of the manifestation of the Baptism in the Spirit is glossolalia, the incoherent, unintelligible utterances popularly known as “speaking in tongues” or “I have the gift of healing and deliverance, let me pray over you.”


“It seems that most traditional Pentecostals will not recognize any genuine "Baptism in the Spirit" unless it has indeed been accompanied by the sign of ‘glossolalia’. At any rate, it is this classical Pentecostal emphasis which has worked itself into the religious thinking of Catholic Pentecostals — to condition their entire religious experience” (Cf. the article by Father F. A. Sullivan. S.J., "Pentecostal Movement" in Gregorianum, Vol. 53 Fasc. 2, 1972, pp. 261).


*1st Problem: many Pentecostals and charismatics speak about “baptism in the Holy Spirit” as synonymous with “do you now speak in tongues?”


*2nd Problem: many Pentecostals and charismatics seek mystical phenomena and spiritual consolation. The danger with this type of spirituality is that the devil can imitate mystical phenomena according to the Doctors of the Church (St Teresa of Avila, St Ignatius of Loyola & St John of the Cross).


*3rd Problem: the Charismatic Renewals roots are based on Protestantism. They look generally to 1. the Bible Alone, 2. Me & the Holy Spirit alone, 3. My private interpretation based on my experiences and feelings alone. These are Martin Luthers core beliefs, the CCR is modernism plain and simple.


*St Mark 8:11-13 (RSV) “The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven, to test him. 12] And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and said, "Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation." [13] And he left them, and getting into the boat again he departed to the other side.                                                                 

*2 Corinthians 5:7 “for we walk by faith, not by sight.”


‘When I go to Church, I don’t feel anything’ has been the common cry of many of the children of the 20th century. Feeling has been what satan has pushed in this century. Instead of spiritual reward from God, everyone wants to ‘feel good.’ The Jews looked for a physical king. Pentecostals have found a physical Holy Spirit. Sensualism is the grace of the Pentecostal movement. Everything about the Charismatics is sensual. The laying on of hands, the baptism of the spirit, the speaking in tongues, the holding of hands, the songs, and yes, even the prophecies (Rick Salbato – ‘Tongues of Satan’ p.172).

What is a ‘Catholic Healing Mass?’


We pray right before we receive Holy Communion "Lord I am not worthy that you should come under my roof but only say the word and I shall be healed." Our soul is healed by receiving the Holy Eucharist in a state of grace. The term 'Healing Mass' came into use with the birth of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal which started around 1967 and borrowed much of their practices and spirituality from the protestant Pentecostal movement which started around 1917 (the famous Azusa street revival). Protestant Pentecostals over emphasize the belief that God wants to heal everyone, they do this because they have no doctrine of 'redemptive suffering' and they have no understanding of 'redemptive suffering.' They also don't have a ‘ministerial priesthood’ so everybody is laying hands and praying over other people prayers for healing and deliverance. All of these disordered highly charged emotional practices has spilled into the Catholic Church. When someone of weak or tepid faith goes to a protestant healing service, or a Catholic healing service or a Catholic Healing Mass and they get prayed over and don't get healed it scandalizes these neophytes and it can (and often does) shipwreck their faith. They walk away saying God didn’t heal me because I’m not worthy enough, or I don’t have enough faith, or I not a real Christian or worse, God doesn’t love me. Many people that don’t receive a healing at these events commit spiritual suicide, they walk away from God, faith and the Church. The carrot that is dangled before simple pious Catholics is that if you come to a Healing Mass you will be healed, this appeals to their lower faculties (their emotions and passions), as Catholics we go to Holy Mass primarily for the healing of our soul and to offer ourselves to God as a living sacrifice (cf. Romans 12:1-2) not to get something from God. The Lord has already given us the greatest gift possible, His death on the cross as payment for our sins. Our sins offend a Holy God, it offends his holy justice, this requires a holy payment, Our Lord Jesus Christ paid the price for us with His holy sacrifice on Calvary for our sins. Here are the facts, our body will get sick, get old and die, The healing of the body will occur perfectly at the resurrection at the end of time when God raises up our lowly bodies from the tomb.

The Pentecostalism Controversy (1973) 

By James Likoudis

It may be noted that the "baptism of the Spirit" which is considered as giving one the experience of a deeper and more intimate relationship to the Holy Spirit is commonly received through the imposition of hands, and that outside the regular prayer meeting. It is usual, however, that an individual can request the laying on of hands by the prayer group as a preparation for the "baptism of the Spirit." Once again the fundamental problem confronts us: What to think of all this Spirit-baptism, Spirit-glossolalia, Spirit-healing, Spirit-inspiration, and other unusual phenomena ostensibly conveyed through the laying-on of hands by Spirit-filled people at Catholic Pentecostal meetings?

In 1971, Archbishop (now Cardinal) Timothy Manning of Los Angeles saw fit to issue a pastoral letter clearly warning Catholics of "excessive emotionalism, credulity, and sought-after charismatic displays (which) question the genuineness of the activity of the Spirit (in baptism of water) and open the devotion to people of peripheral stability." Recently, in his General Audience, February 28, 1973, our Holy Father Pope Paul VI singled out for criticism those who esteem "the charismatic elements of religion over the so-called institutional ones." He went on to rebuke those who: engage in the search... for spiritual facts in which there enters an indefinable and extraneous energy which, to a certain extent, persuades the one who experiences it that he is in communication with God, or more generically with the Divine, with the Spirit, indeterminately. What do we say about this? We say that this tendency is very risky, because it advances into a field in which auto-suggestion, or the influence of imponderable physical causes, can lead to spiritual error.

The possibility of spiritual delusion in seeking to make grace sensibly felt is obviously very real. The best spiritual writers and theologians of the Catholic tradition, such as the great Doctors of the Church, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, have continually warned the faithful of spiritual seduction, spiritual deceit, and mutual self-deception in the matter of extraordinary gifts. In other words, the masters of the spiritual life openly contradict the new Pentecostals spirituality's emphasis on seeking visible signs of God's Presence and action. And it is this precise counsel of the greatest theologians of the spiritual life which has been declared irrelevant by the leading Pentecostals apologists such as Father Edward D. O'Connor.

It is very natural that in an age of acute spiritual confusion, doubt and anxiety that souls seeking spiritual satisfaction and security should, in fact, seek experiential verification of Christian dogma in their own lives through "Pentecostal experiences"; but the dangers are many. Curiously, Pentecostal literature admits of errors, misunderstandings, mistakes and disorders accompanying the spiritual flights of their enthusiasts — not the least of which is a pronounced anti-hierarchical and anti-Institutional Church bias which permeates the attitudes of adherents.”

Moreover, the effects of ordinary Christian infant baptism are ignored or neglected in favor of a basically up-scriptural "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" which is theologically very confusing. Catholics know (as a matter of faith) that a person who has received the sacrament of Baptism is now living a life of grace which God in His ordinary economy simply does not accompany with extraordinary phenomena. Indeed both the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation are in practice relegated to second class status by the emphasis on a "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" considered as distinct from them. Some of our Catholic Pentecostals do not appear to understand that:

Nor can the gift of tongues claimed by the Pentecostals bear the theological weight which their practice assigns to it. In Acts 2:1-22, the gift of tongues was most assuredly a miraculous phenomenon. But St. Peter and the other Apostles spoke an intelligible language which was heard by the power of God in the intelligible languages of the many foreigners present. Their gift of tongues was not the unintelligible gibberish uttered in Pentecostal meetings. In 1 Corinthians Chapter 14, the reference to strange tongues also admits of intelligible languages. And, as St. Paul relates, the languages spoken by those who had never learned them, were intended by God to be a sign to the unbeliever. How speaking pure gibberish could be a sign of God's work to anyone has never been satisfactorily explained. St. Paul also tells us, moreover, that "talking with a strange tongue" was rather inferior to the "gift of prophecy," and that he would rather speak five words in church with his understanding in order to instruct others, than 10,000 words in a "tongue." It was time for the Corinthians, whom he was rebuking for various disorders in their ecclesial life, to grow up!

It should also be noted, particularly in view of what had actually occurred in Catholic Pentecostal meetings, that the following teaching of St. Paul has been ignored:

If there is speaking with strange tongues, do not let more than two speak, or three at the most; let each take his turn, with someone to interpret for him, and if he can find nobody to interpret, let him be silent in the church, conversing with his own spirit and with God....And women are to be silent in the churches; utterance is not permitted to them; let them keep their rank, as the law tells them: if they have any questions to raise, let them ask their husbands at home. That a woman should make her voice heard in the church is not seemly (1 Cor 14:34-36).

A major point that needs stressing is that absolutely no evidence has ever been provided that the tongues spoken at [any] Pentecostal gatherings are intelligible foreign languages spoken on this planet. But such intelligibility is an essential requirement of Scriptural teaching!

For many, the main appeal of the Pentecostal is the speaking in tongues described in Acts 2:1-21. The claim is made that this event is being paralleled in widespread Christian experience today. But again, the case for this collapses since the most knowledgeable Scripture scholars maintain that the initial Pentecostal experience was confined to the Apostles (and the Mother of God), and was not in fact shared by the 120 Christians who are mentioned in Acts 1:15.

The Pentecost event was pre-eminently a manifestation of the Spirit among the members of the Apostolic hierarchy, and if we are to look at it as a model for latter-day speaking in tongues, then the tongues should rightfully appear among the members of the hierarchy! — and not to every Tom, Dick and Harry. Equally vexing is the fact that Catholic Pentecostals believe it is possible to acquire experience of the Holy Spirit's presence by an "instant mysticism" — push-button fashion, so to speak. But the lives of the saints teach us that extraordinary graces such as the sensible perception of the Holy Spirit may indeed be given; but usually after a severe ascetic preparation; i.e., after much worship, prayer, fruitful reception of the Sacraments, fasting and other acts of penance.


My Experience in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal


The Toronto blessing started in 1994, it was something that swept Protestant pentecostalism by storm for several years and it made its way into the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. I was introduced to the CCR by my parents. It seemed to renew their faith and zeal for God and the Catholic Church. I entered the CCR through an Evangelization Retreat & a Life in the Spirit Seminar. I opened up for me a really hunger to read, study and understand Gods Word. I attended many CCR conferences and prayer meetings, in fact I led a young adult prayer group for about 10 years. I went back to school in my late 30’s to pursue a Master’s Degree in Catholic Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio. In short time I was being asked to speak and preach at many CCR events. I saw this hyper emotionally charged spirituality expressed at many CCR conferences, I was convinced it was the pure action of the Holy Spirit upon these people. I spoke at Steubenville Conferences (for nearly 10 years in a row) and also at the Southern CA Charismatic conferences in both english and spanish. Yes, I have seen people fainting, barking like dogs on all 4's, howling, rolling on the floor back and forth laughing or screaming hysterically, wide spread speaking in tongues with no interpreter, some would become stiff as a board and fall into a trance with their eyes rolled upward and they were calling this a movement of the Holy Spirit. What I saw at many of these charismatic events frankly concerned me, it did not appear to be Catholic, nor Biblical, it was purely hyped up emotionalism. That’s not to say that there are not some good things that have come out of the Charismatic renewal, heck, I'm a product of the Charismatic Renewal, I had an authentic interior conversion to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and (by the grace of God), I am very busy as a Catholic Conference speaker especially at Men’s Conference in the USA (Thank you JESUS). However, I saw very early on that feelings-based Christianity can be dangerous, so says St John of the Cross and St Teresa of Avila (both Doctors of the Church). To quote my former professor Dr Scott Hahn who has been teaching at Franciscan University of Steubenville the last 20 years, he has said many times: "The charismatic renewal is like an 8 lane highway, 7 lanes leading Catholics out of the Church and 1 lane leading them back in" (Franciscan University of Steubenville being that only lane). I lived in the southern CA for 53 years, virtually every storefront Pentecostal church is run by a former Catholic who came out of the Charismatic Renewal, they became bible alone fundamentalist who reject the Papacy, Our Lady and the Sacraments as means of sanctifying grace. Steve Wood a former Evangelical Pastor now Catholic, he says: “Starting in the late 18th century, American Protestantism was radically influenced by a phenomenon known as ‘revivalism.’ Revivalism brought a more affective, ‘feeling based’ approach to Christianity, with an emphasis on the heart, in contrast to the head. The revivalists promoted the idea of intense religious feelings, which further sentimentalized American Christianity. The revivalist preachers and their increasingly emotional revivals were especially attractive to women.”[i] Many people who have left the Catholic Church to follow a ‘feelings based Christianity’ seem to be sincere, but they are sincerely wrong in leaving the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Gods revelation tells us what is true, feelings and emotions lead you down a wrong path. We must not base our Christianity on feelings, since feelings are not the measure of reality. Emotions cannot sustain a Christian, that is why wherever you see the Catholic Charismatic renewal practiced, everyone is bald or has grey hair. It’s not reproducing itself, young people are not coming not are they attracted to these effusive displays of emotionalism and the spin off ‘Life Teen’ has 3 flat tires. The facts are clear, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal is on life support.


The Charismatic Renewal seems to lead people in 3 directions:

1) this person keeps seeking euphoric experiences, they seek continual spiritual consolation & emotionalism is their trademark.

2) those persons that join a ‘covenant community’ which becomes their parallel Parish and they are Shepherded by a lay leader who is malformed in the Catholic Religion.

3) those that for them, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal became like a diving board and they dove in the pool where they discovered the fullness of Catholic truth.


Mike McDonald (former Covenant Community member) writes: The Charismatic Renewal had very little consistent guidance from the pastors of the Church.  Of course, there were some very effective and solid people, lay and ordained, who did much to help many in the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement.  But the exciting prayer meetings often led to a quest for: 1]  religious experiences  2]  Emotional/therapeutic comfort to address inner needs and woundedness.  Many found themselves scandalized and far from the holy life they thought they had. The false spiritualities led to deluded selfishness and error. 


Many in the movement were introduced to spiritualties that heavily focused on miracles, wonders, visions, and prophecies.  Of course, the history of the Faith contains all of this, but individuals could end up focusing principally on the extraordinary religious experience and miss how the Holy Spirit and Grace really worked in their lives.  Some of this was truly a dangerous and false spirituality which sent people chasing after "spiritual wild geese." In this process, the spiritual bedrock of Truth, repentance and contrition, humility, grace and self - control was disrupted.  The Lordship of Jesus became became a slogan and everything was sifted through a mentality always seeking the "newest work" of God.   


Others were introduced to authority structures that promised a powerful discipleship experience which would really bring mature Christianity.  Individuals "pastored" or "shepherded" other individuals with very limited understanding of the interior life or true holiness.  Again, many were hurt.


The actual work and reality of the Holy Spirit far exceeds what nearly all were aware of in those days.  We discover a greater "filling of the Spirit" and a great knowledge of God in the teaching and life of the true Catholic Faith. The Holy Spirit brings peace and life.  High adrenaline adventures in the Spirit are few and far between for most.  In contrast, the lasting and fruitful spirituality of Catholic Faith is humble, faithful, and happy.  


[i] Wood, Stephen. Legacy: A Father's Handbook for Raising Godly Children. Greenville, SC: Family Life Center, 2006. Print. p.16