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Ite Incendite

     Among the many topics my spiritual director and I discuss, we always return to prayer.  That should be obvious for anyone who knows anything about spiritual directors or anyone who practices a spiritual or religious life.  The discussion turned to speaking in tongues because I think I talk too much when I pray.  I can't shut that nous up, as the Eastern Orthodox sorta say.
     Having grown up Pentecostal, speaking in tongues was de rigueur for most of the services I attended--I think I was 15 or 16 years old when I first "spoke" this way myself.  For the next few years I used this gift without knowing much about it.  Mind you, I wasn't the guy yelling in tongues all the time (I don't think I've ever yelled in that language) nor was I the interpreter--I haven't been graced with that charism.  Part of the problem was it wasn't
 explained much in my circles--you just did it, if you had it.  If you didn't have it, well, you better keep praying for it.  Eventually, I barely engaged in that language, partly out of embarrassment--what the hell was all that babbling about anyway? It sounds ridiculous--and partly out of confusion--what the hell was that babbling all about anyway?  I'd employ my "thousand tongues to sing" now and again, but mostly I kept it in the back of my mind  It seemed more like a trick of the mind than anything else.
     So, now I'm Catholic (sorta, kinda Roman) and I've attended mass at a charismatic Catholic church a few times, which if you've never witnessed a priest all vestmented up speaking in tongues, you really oughta shoulda do it some time. Anyway, I quietly spoke that way during the musical worship time there and rarely here and there, but again, confusion, embarrassment keeps it at bay.
     Which brings me back to my conversation with my spiritual director--who is not only Jesuit, but is bifaculty ( I believe that's the term) with the Eastern Catholic liturgy, and the man has used that heavenly language.  In a word or two--he's wonderful.  I mentioned how, when speaking that language (which to me sounds Aramaic, but I'm probably projecting), that there's nothing going on in the head.  He encouraged me to see it as a tool, another arrow in the quiver, to move closer to the one who is the source of all goodness and nothing more.  Use tongues, use the Ignatian examen, use the Orthodox divine office, whatever "works" for me and will move me further up and further in.
     I still don't claim to understand it--who truly understands what baptism does--but I don't need all the questions answered.  It's a mystery, God said he provides this gift, it's my responsibility to be grateful and employ it.
     Imagine a conversation with a Jesuit priest about the Pentecostal experience as being the most informative and heartening conversation one could have on that topic.  Praise God!


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