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Congar on the Charismatic Renewal: Beyond Reason PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 25 March 2007 08:42

Written by  Br. Matthew Augustine, OP

In the second volume of his three-volume work on the Holy Spirit entitled I Believe in the Holy Spirit, Yves Congar, O.P., devotes an entire chapter to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. It is well worth a read. He has many positive things to say about the Renewal, as well as a few challenges. Here are a few paragraphs that seem pertinent to the discussion we've been having:

"I could hardly speak disparagingly about human reason and understanding, but there are clearly aspects of man, both psychical and physical, which go beyond reason. These are precisely the aspects of man and the values which have been neglected, excluded, or misunderstood in the Western Church. Even now, since the best of the aggiornamento of the Second Vatican Council, the Church has, as an institution, continued to share in the general and prevalent climate of rationalism and organization. Its liturgy is strictly regulated and it is still extremely inclined to indulge in didactic, if not cerebral, explanations. As a result of this, the members of the Renewal tend to say, when they are asked why they belong to the movement and what benefits they derive from it: In a world that is excessively organized and totally dedicated to efficient productivity, we find in the Renewal freedom, simplicity and a certain child-likeness of heart. We find even the liturgy, the preaching and pastoral care of our Church too external and rational. In the Renewal, we find an inner life and contact with the essence of things in its pure state....

A reassessment of these areas of human life that cannot be reduced to mere reason is, of course, to be welcomed. It is, however, impossible not to be to some extent apprehensive of the danger of a rather pietistic anti-intellectualism. Teaching without prophetism can easily degenerate into legalism, but prophetism without teaching can become illusory. There is a clear need for the movement and the institutional Church to question eachother continuously, like the hill and the field in Barres' novel." (pgs. 154-155)


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