Inner Healing Through Meditations on the Stations of the Cross by Father Robert DeGrandis, another remarkably helpful and yet simple guide to God's love and healing power. This gifted priest has traveled the world teaching the charismatic joys of being an active and prayerful Christian! (tenth printing). click here



For some it's a powerhouse. For other it's controversial. For most it is probably fascinating, or close to it.

Tongues -- the arcane way of praying we see or perhaps experience on occasion.

In a powerful new book, Father Michael J. Sears takes us to just about every aspect of the mysterious prayer form -- that manner of "speech" that is not really speech, not prayer as we usually know it, but "a spontaneous utterance of incomprehensible and seemingly random speech sounds," in the words of one scholar.

Or take it from Cardinal Joseph Suenens of Belgium, who calls it "a pre-conceptual expression of spontaneous prayer," a "verbal expression independent of any specific linguistic structure," a "subconscious rising to God."

Have you ever heard it? Have you used it?

It is a manner of praying, if we can further quote the cardinal, that is similar to subconscious expressions in dreams, painting, dance, tears, or laughter.

Those who practice it feel it puts them in more direct contact with the Holy Spirit. Those who oppose it say it can be the deception of a demon. It is the assertion of Father Sears that it is a prayer form that is especially powerful against the devil. "It was one of the first signs manifested through the apostles at Pentecost," he writes, quoting Acts 2:1-4, and arguing that there are "thirty allusions to the charism of tongues in the New Testament."

Is it miraculous contact? Is it true? Is it good? Is it interesting that the flames at Pentecost were like "tongues'?

Tertullian, the great Christian scholar, seemed to identify the speaking in tongues, says the priest (that was 1,800 years ago), as did Irenaeus. St. John Vianney is thought to have prayed in tongues. Let's not get too academic here. The book itself is not dry theology. But a touch of history is in order.

St. Augustine, for example, spoke of the spontaneity and wordlessness of jubilation which was expressed as an utterance of "jubilus.".

Was that tongues? Was what they uttered in the Upper Room the kind of tongues now heard at charismatic meetings?

Mysteries here. It has been said there are times when two different people could "interpret" the same message from what seemed to the average ear like gibberish.

That seems a supernormal component. The "incomprehensible" way of praying is called glossolalia. There is also another type of gift called xenolalia -- when someone suddenly can understand and even speaks a foreign language, with no training in that language.

Such was true of Padre Pio. It was also true of a seer from Medjugorje who one day could suddenly speak Italian.

There is the story of a Japanese woman who was Buddhist and went to a charismatic meeting. A woman sitting in front of her was praying in tongues. The Japanese woman touched her shoulder when she had finished -- impressed that the woman could pray in perfect Japanese. "But I am more curious how you know my secret temple name that is only known to me and only a few in Japan," said the Buddhist.

The catch: of course, the woman who was praying did not know Japanese.

But in Japanese, she had said, "You have searched for the truth all your life; now come to the fullness of truth. Come to Me, I am Jesus Christ."

The Japanese woman was baptized soon after.

Many are those who seem to experience "words of knowledge" or prophecy while praying in tongues, and we leave this all for your discernment!

The book is at least worth a read. For those who pray in tongues, it may be a fascinating journey. How about singing in tongues?

Is there also a supernatural factor?

"When a person, small group, or whole congregation is open to the movement of the Spirit in the singing of tongues," writes Father Sears, "the elements of the music can sometimes be miraculous. Professional musicians and composers who do not know about tongues are often amazed at the harmonies that are reached from untrained singers."

After one large gathering in Los Angeles, a professional musician said in amazement: "These people are singing the seventh dominant chord with perfect counterpoint and harmony. You could not do that with a hundred-person choir without many, many hours of practice with an expert director, and people who really know what they are doing to blend those chords."

What do you think? Is it nonsense? Feel free to send your views.

"If something is present in Scripture and has been manifested in the Church with good fruit, why is the charism of tongues still controversial?" asks the priest.

You decide. It is certainly interesting. Is it truly a weapon?

"There is a particular power over evil when praying in tongues, simply because it is praise of God," says the cleric. "Praise was rejected by the devil and his angels, and now that Christ has rescued humanity from the power of Satan, the praise of God can act like 'a two-edged sword to deal out vengeance' to the enemies of God (Psalm 149). (A priest) points to praise as the very power that tongues has over evil."

It seems so bizarre at first.

But does it -- as so many say, and as this priest so ably argues -- reach to the depths of our inner being and the heights of the Spirit?

[resources: The Charism of Tongues, Father DeGrandis's books, and Deeper Conversion]

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