I may not win any popularity contests with this post but I would like to address another issue that has come to my attention since entering the Catholic blogging community and this is: the marginalization and stereotyping of certain groups within the Catholic Church. In my last post I brought up the infighting among Catholics that one can't help but notice in the Catholic blogging community and, I am guessing, that many of my fellow bloggers have also noticed the stereotyping and marginalization of various groups within the Catholic Church. The groups where I find this stereotyping and marginalization aimed at most often is:
"Charismatic Catholics" - I put quotes around this one because though I use this term for lack of a better one, the truth of the matter is that most of the people who are categorized in this manner are Catholics who simply believe or have had it brought to their attention that the Holy Spirit still shares these "gratuitous" gifts with us in our times. The majority do not confuse these gifts with the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit, they know their faith and they understand the difference between the Holy Spirit's gifts that are given to all and which are necessary for our salvation and the charisms which Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians. They also realize that the charisms are "helping gifts" and while not necessary for salvation, useful nonetheless.
As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
"There are furthermore special graces, also called charisms after the Greek term used by St Paul and meaning "favor," "gratuitous gift," "benefit." Whatever their character - sometimes it is extraordinary, such as the gift of miracles or of tongues - charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church." CCC 2003 (2004 also goes on to discuss these gifts.)
There are some who compartmentalize those who have charisms as people who, during Mass, wave their hands in the air, shout out alleluias, and pray in tongues out loud. I have yet to meet a "charismatic" who does this. Oh, I'm not saying there aren't those who may do this...there are all kinds of liturgical abuses these days, but they are the exception not the rule. The majority of the "charismatics" that I know are extremely reverent, have a tremendous love for the Eucharist, and follow the Magisterium of the Catholic Church completely. I also see many, many of them at daily Mass, which, to me, is a point in their favor as it shows they deeply understand the significance of the Mass and Holy Eucharist.
Earlier today I read a comment on a blog which, out of charity, I will not name, which mentioned "demonic activity such as slaying in the spirit". That is a direct quote, and certainly offensive to one who has been "slain in the spirit" by a priest and received a major physical and spiritual healing at the same time. While the devil can certainly mimic things like this, it is, again, more than likely the exception, not the rule. Man cannot limit the power of God, nor can he claim something to be of the devil when its fruits point toward God. God may certainly "slay" in the spirit whomever He wishes if He so chooses. Just because man may not understand things doesn't mean they don't exist, nor does it necessarily mean they are demonic. I've never seen an angel in real life yet I believe they exist.
Another group which are often marginalized are those who believe in apparitions. I have even seen the same type of criticism aimed at folks who believe in apparitions (even those that have been approved by the Catholic Church such as Fatima) as that which is aimed at the "charismatics". A word of advice to those who believe that Our Lady is appearing at Medjugorje: tread carefully if you leave a comment about these apparitions on some blogs because you might just get your head bitten off! Lol! Whether or not Mary is appearing in Medjugorje isn't the issue here (that is for the Church to decide) : the point is the animosity aimed at the folks who dare mention that these apparitions just might be of God. The question I have to ask is:
Why? Why such fiery darts aimed at unsuspecting souls who simply comment on what they feel is a tremendous gift of grace to the world? For a moment let's suppose that it IS from the devil...well, even if this be the case, millions of your fellow Catholics, not to mention other denominations, have turned to God because of Medjugorje so God's loving hand is at work no matter what! Those who have great faith and trust in God are safe in his hands and well protected and He will guide them safely home regardless of any accidental missteps they may take. Personally, I believe that Our Lady IS appearing in Medjugorje but I respect the opinions of those who think otherwise. And I guess RESPECT is what it all boils down to when it comes to folks who believe a bit differently than you do. Whether we are people who love the Traditional Latin Mass, The Novus Ordo Mass, or believe in apparitions or charisms, we are ONE CHURCH and are all part of the Mystical Body of Christ.