Bebop Catholicism. Never heard of it? I just coined the phrase. I was watching the YouTube video of “Jazz on a Summers Day 1958”. It was beautiful. The filmography, the sound, the artists, the diversity of people racially and age wise was pleasantly surprising. It is a snapshot of an idyllic America and it was all about the beat and bebop.
Many Rites But One Spirit
There are dozens of different Rites in the Catholic Church; ergo, many ways to worship the Lord in Spirit and Truth, but all the same beat so to speak. Recently, Popes like St. John Paul the Great and even Pope Francis have embraced and encouraged the Charismatic renewal within the Church. I use the word “renewal” not in the context of a recent renewal but in its most ancient context because the Holy Roman Catholic Church started off as a Pentecostal Church (meaning alive in the Holy Spirit) beginning at the first Pentecost. Those gathered in the upper room, locked away in fear were now imbued with the courage given them by the Holy Spirit and they spoke, prayed, prophesied and sang in tongues.
While watching that YouTube video I thought of Catholic Charismatics and Pentecost. Praying in tongues is the Bebop of the Holy Spirit.
Conservative Should Not Mean Closed Minded
I was always conservative. Even as a child in the early 1970’s, the changes to the Mass didn’t sit well with me, especially the folk music. As I matured in the faith, I believe the Lord allowed me to experience Him in many different beautiful ways and to be open to the variety of ways we can express our love and worship for Him. Being conservative does not mean closed-mindedness. I have a great appreciation for the Tridentine Rite Mass, the Novus Ordo and the Russian Catholic Liturgy and over the past 18 years or so, the Catholic Charismatic Praise and Worship. I enjoy many different ways to worship and connect with the Lord as long as they are theologically sound and comport with Roman Catholic teaching. I marvel at how the diverse people on our planet worship and I know even if they don’t that all forms of “Creator” centered worship gives glory to the one true God. Don’t misunderstand me, not all forms of worship are equal or theologically sound. But as Saint Paul noted in Athens, the people were religious, they had temples to all kinds of god’s, but their spirits were searching to worship the unknown God, the true God, the God of Abraham. Through their faith, he was able to preach to them Christ crucified and won many converts. If through mean-spiritedness and rigidity we close other people out, ignore or marginalize them, ultimately we lose because we may be called to account as to why we turned this person or that person away. The best way to turn hearts and minds to God is first through joy, then through listening, and then by love. Too many Catholics lack that joy of the Holy Spirit. They seem to want His vengeance and not His Mercy, love and forgiveness. God understands us, we need to try and understand others.
Catholic Charismatics Are Misunderstood
Many Christians dislike or even hate Charismatics. The term Charismaniacs has been bandied about. There are always fanatical people around in every form of worship, however, most of the people I have been blessed to encounter who enjoy Catholic Charismatic worship are very conservative and very much in tune with obeying Roman Catholic doctrine in its entirety. I have yet to meet a Catholic Charismatic apostate. When I first embraced this way to experience God back in 2000 at my home parish in New Jersey, my very conservative church buddies in Manhattan were shocked that I, a conservative, would embrace this craziness. One friend of mine who is a religious brother and ran a Catholic bookstore in NYC was appalled when I asked him for books on the subject. He told me that he was not even remotely sympathetic to the movement and actually just walked away from me. It was at that point that I knew this movement is truly from God. Anyone who is a person of faith, who loves God and is not at least intrigued by the notion that Pentecost is not a one-time occurrence but should be an ongoing experience in every Christian’s life, is dead in the faith. I love the Lord with my whole being and I want to know, love and serve Him. Growing in knowledge of the Lord never ends but we must be open to Him.
Many people don’t appreciate Charismatic forms of worship. That is OK, but a hatred for it and the people who are joyfully worshiping the Lord is something they should examine within themselves. Many priests don’t like the way Charismatic’s worship. My home parish was Charismatic, led by many Charismatic priests. The Bishop appointed a new pastor recently who is definitely not charismatic. He was adamant about his dislike for Charismatics and called us crazy. His homilies suggest that his charism is one of a post-Pentecostal Church where miracles don’t happen anymore. That is truly sad because if he had taken the time to find out about what was happening at our once thriving parish, he would have heard of the numerous miracles that occurred on a weekly basis. I personally witnessed physical healings, emotional healings and even people freed from the oppression of the devil. Bishops need to use discernment before assigning priests to parishes that have particular charisms. I understand that the business end of things is a serious reality and sometimes a parish that is floundering financially needs a business man with a collar. However, more times than not, the spiritual health of the parish should trump other considerations. This scenario of faithful Charismatic Catholics being shunned, called names and shut down within the Church is unfortunate and has led to many people leaving the Church. Stifling the Holy Spirit is not of God.
As with all things, fear, distrust, misunderstanding and not personally getting to know people who look different and in this case express worship of God differently creates the kind of animosity I’ve seen and experienced. I pray in tongues from time to time. It is not mysterious and is an act of the will. I don’t become possessed (although I certainly wouldn’t mind being totally possessed by the Holy Spirit; He doesn’t destroy or consume or replace the faithful with Himself. He enflames, communes, melds, becomes one with and completes us without annihilating us).
Praying in tongues is a form of Holy Bebop. As I watched that YouTube video of a young woman be-bopping to the music, it reminded me of praying in tongues. She had a great big smile on her face. She listened to the music and then audibly began singing out unintelligible words while the audience bopped along with her. The audience appreciated the sound and allowed the whole experience to fill them with music, joy and peace. The Lord spoke to my heart. I felt Him say to me, “this is exactly what you allow Me to do with you.” Just like that be-bopping woman who took a moment to listen to the musician, before I start praying in tongues, I listen to the Lord in silence. I turn my whole being over to the Holy Spirit. I surrender my vocal cords to the One who created them and gave them to me and then I Bebop to the Lord. The joy and peace is indescribable. I listen to the music of the Holy Spirit and then my soul, my spirit rises in praise, worship, thanksgiving and adoration in a language which only God can understand. It is a language of love on a level that is indescribable.
Yes It Looks And Sounds Silly…Laugh It Is OK
Now I know it looks silly to people who are just experiencing a Charismatic Catholic praying and many times as I prayed over people in tongues they looked as if they were stifling a laugh. I smile and encourage them to laugh. It does sound silly. Laughter and joy are from the Holy Spirit. The same reactions happened at the first Pentecost. I’m sure there was misunderstanding that day too and it is OK. I laugh right along with them. I assure them that God is pleased with their amusement and I never take offense. Then there are the other people, suffering from one thing or another physically, emotionally or spiritually. When I pray over them in tongues they report the warm sensation, the feeling of peace and in some cases healing which only the Holy Spirit can provide. We are His instruments.
The famous cheesy line from the movie Dirty dancing is “Nobody puts baby in a corner”. I think that applies to God. He is too big to be put in a corner. We need to allow ourselves to experience Him in many ways. We can experience God in many miraculous ways. We are blessed to have Him in the Eucharist. He is present in our parish priests, in our parents, in our siblings and friends, in our enemies, in a baby, in nature, and I would like to proffer, He is also very present in a little Holy Spirit Bepop. Praise the Lord Jesus Christ now and forever. Nobody puts the Holy Spirit in the corner! Laugh. It is so good for you and it is a gift from God.