2000 November/Questions.

  1. The 6thand 9th Commandments use the words “adultery” and  “wife” the terminology of which would seem relates to married people only. The sin for single people is called fornication. What convincing reply can one give to non-Catholics or unbelievers that the 6th and 9th Commandments totally embrace the sin of impurity and apply to everyone?
  2. The best reply I can think of is the one from common ‘ sense. Morality in all its detail is a highly complex subject that theologians will never cease to elaborate on. The Ten Commandments, on the other hand, are a succinct summing up of the moral law that every Jew (and every Christian) had no trouble knowing by heart. Each Commandment is in fact a heading for a whole chapter of related moral obligations and sins. ‘Honour thy father and thy mother’, far example, concerns all the duties of justice, not just the debt of respect for one’s parents. ‘Thou shaft not commit adultery’ and ‘Thou shaft not covet thy neighbour’s wife’ are convenient ways of expressing the moral ban on all sins of impurity, in thought as well as in deed.
  3. Is it a sin for a poor person to steal food or any of the basic necessities of life for himself and his family if he has no money and cannot find work?
  4. Let me quote from Henry Davis S.J.: “One may take the property of another without being guilty of moral fault, both in the case of extreme necessity and for legitimate occult compensation.

“Necessity is extreme when life is in danger or some comparable evil is imminent, and the person in need cannot extricate himself from it unaided. A person in such necessity may take so much of the goods of another as will relieve present need, unless that other is in a like necessity. In such need, the goods of the earth are common property; rights of exclusive private ownership lapse; there is, in fact, an obligation to preserve life, which is a higher good than property. Even before extreme necessity is actually present but when it is imminent, the same principles are true. However, in merely grave need-that it, such as a person can relieve, though with some difficulty — it is not permitted to take others’ property, for many live in grave necessity, and if such appropriations were allowable, the insecurity of private property would be very great.” Moral and Pastoral Theology, Vol. II.

  1. Can you give a detailed and convincing reason for a non-Catholic Pentecostal why their “speaking in tongues” is nonsense, evil and does not relate to the special “speaking in tongues” Gift of the Holy Ghost given to the Apostles at Pentecost?
  2. The short answer to the question is that a cursory glance at the second chapter of Acts shows that the Apostles did not speak a language of incomprehensible syllables, as do the Pentecostals, but languages spoken by their auditors: “the multitude came together and were confounded in mind, because that every man heard them speak in his own tongue.”–  Ac 2:6.

To be fair to the Pentecostals, however, it must be stated that a “Gift of Tongues” did exist in the early Church that was not simply an ability to speak other spoken languages, but at times was a language that was not understandable to others: “for he that speaketh in a tongue, speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man heareth. Yet by the Spirit he speaketh mysteries.”– I Cor. 14:2. At times, too, the tongue was not understandable to the speaker: “And therefore he that speaketh by a tongue, let him pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is without fruit.”– ibid. 14:13&14.

What was the point of such a gift? To quote from F. Prat S.J.: “Bringing together all the traits relative to the glossolalia, we see it was the supernatural faculty to pray to or praise God in a foreign language, with an enthusiasm bordering on exaltation. Indeed, the apostles sang of “the wonderful works of God”, the household of Cornelius “glorified God”, the neophytes of Ephesus “prophesied” in the Biblical sense, those of Corinth “speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man heareth. Yet by the Spirit he speaketh mysteries”, the sense of which was lost on the bystanders. But on the other hand the excitation of the Apostles is attributed to new wine, and St. Paul fears that his Corinthians will be accused of insanity if they use their gift in front of infidels or catechumens.

“These marvelous manifestations verified the prophecies, proved in a visible way the permanence of the Holy Ghost within the Church, symbolised the great Catholic unity and the universality of the Gospel, destined to speak every language and to gather all the peoples into the profession of the same Faith.”– La Theologié de Saint Paul. 1922 with Imprimatur.

What, then, to make of the Pentecostals? Two things first must be said about the gift of tongues in the early Church. Firstly, it was not the most important of the glossolalia as St. Paul makes clear in I Corinthians 14, and secondly, it did not last long. The generally accepted chronological order of St. Paul’s Epistles is 1 and 2 Thess, Gal, 1 and 2 Cor, Rom, Col, Phm, Eph, Phil, Heb, 1 Tim, Titus, 2 Tim.  In the later Epistles there is no mention of Tongues even though one would have expected St. Paul to have to deal with a gift so open to abuse. Once the Church had spread rapidly and established herself, there was no longer such a need for extraordinary manifestations of God’s presence, and they declined.

 Is there a need for them now? As Fr. Prat makes  clear, all the extraordinary gifts had for purpose to show that the Holy Ghost dwelt supernaturally in the Church, i.e. they proved dramatically that the Church was of God and not just of man as is the case of false religions. Hence there can be no manifestation of God’s power that would in any way confirm or give credence to a false religions. The supposed Gift of Tongues, as it manifests itself today, gives support to the Pentecostal forms of Protestantism, which contain serious errors of doctrine, and does little or nothing to confirm the Catholic Faith. For that reason it is immediately suspect.

 Furthermore, this Gift of Tongues appears in conjunction with a group of other supposed gifts and manifestations of the Holy Spirit which are not at all scriptural, e.g. being “struck by the Spirit” (where the recipient falls over at the imposition of hands) and the “Toronto- blessing” (where he falls over and breaks out into uncontrollable laughter). All these phenomena, far from strengthening Faith, serve as a substitute for it, feeding a desire for extraordinary manifestations of God’s presence rather than nourishing that supernatural union with God that is quiet and undramatic.

 In tackling a Pentecostal on the subject of Tongues, I feel it better to admit that such a Gift did exist in the early Church, but then to add that it can be counterfeited, diabolically or even just by human hysteria. Then go on to basics: which of the two faiths — Protestant or Catholic — is the true one? God would be the author of Tongues only in the Church of His making, to uphold the true Faith. Show a Pentecostal that Catholicism is indeed the true Church founded by Christ, and he will draw the conclusion himself that all the `gifts’ in Pentecostalism are as phony as three pound notes.