Hi, Jimmy —
I'm really not too sure what the
question is, but I'll gladly give
a brief explanation of the gift.
First of all, one doesn't need to
be Pentecostal to speak or pray in
It's really two gifts.
- One is "speaking in Tongues" is
a prophetic utterance which requires
We see it in Acts, Chapter 2. The
Holy Spirit falls on the Apostles
and they speak in tongues and some
of those listening receive another
gift known as the gift of interpretation
If you look at the Biblical texts:
- some of these people understand
them in their own languages
- while others, don't understand
them and say they are drunk.
Let me be clear. The Apostles themselves
didn't speak in different languages.
The Greek word used in Acts 2 is glossolia. It
means tongues or utterance. The other
word used for language is dialectos where
we get the word dialect, so they
spoke in tongues and others heard
them in their language.
Any translation that doesn't translate
it that way is simply WRONG!
Today both those gifts are still
in operation. You see it most commonly
in Pentecostal circles, but we also
see it in Catholic Charismatic prayers
groups and in a variety of Charismatic
Usually however, one person will
speak in tongues and another will
give the interpretation.
- The other gift is a gift
of prayer or praying in tongues
Praying in tongues is simply communication
with God. We don't know what is being
said, but we know our spirit is in
communication with God. The tongues
don't have a grammatical structure,
they are simply an outward sign that
our spirit is communicating.
To give an natural example, if you
were to pick up a phone line while
two computers were linked by modem,
you'd hear a bunch of beeps, buzzes,
and static-type noises. Those noises
would mean nothing to you, although
it would be a sign to you that the
two computers were exchanging information.
St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians
14, that when we pray in tongues
we edify ourselves. By that we understand
that all we learn with our minds,
is transmitted to our hearts when
Praying in tongues is not unlike
the Rosary. To pray the Rosary properly,
we enter into the Mysteries of the
Gospel while reciting rote prayer.
Our concentration is not the words
we are praying, rather on Mystery
we are meditating on. Likewise, praying
in tongues, one does not focus on
the utterance that comes out of the
mouth. Those of us who pray in tongues
are often lead by the Holy Spirit
to contemplate and meditate on a
variety of different biblical passages.
Other times, we find ourselves being
lead to pray for specific intentions.
The Holy Spirit may lead us to pray
for particular people who need prayer.
So essentially it is a form of prayer
in which we completely surrender
ourselves to be lead by the Holy
Spirit. It starts by surrendering
Now one last point:
Our Pentecostal brothers, share in
this experience but, in the absence
of Sacred Tradition, they have developed
theological terms and an understanding
of "being filled with the Spirit" which
unfortunately falls into material
Pentecostals assert that the "Baptism
of the Holy Spirit" is evidenced
by the gift of tongues.
However, this is not necessarily
the case. First of all, this "Baptism
of the Holy Spirit" really
amounts to the 3 Sacraments of initiation:
- Confirmation, and
We receive the Holy Spirit at Baptism;
we are sealed with the Spirit at
(or Chrismation); and work
with the Holy Spirit by receiving
the Lord in the Eucharist.
When we are confirmed we receive
access to all the gifts of the Spirit,
including those phenomenal gifts
listed in I Corinthians 12 such as
tongues, healing, prophesy etc, etc,
That doesn't mean everyone
is going to exercise those gifts.
Many don't know about them,
so they never recognize them. Unfortunately,
many in the Catholic Church have
ignored them since around 150AD when
a group called Montanist started
abusing them, so the Hierarchy of
the Church got reactionary. Nevertheless,
the gifts have always been part of
They can only be properly understood
in the context of the sacramental
life. They are ways of experiencing
the presence of God which we objectively
receive in the Sacraments, but they
are not the "be all and end all"
of the Christian experience. In fact,
St. Paul tells us, that if we speak
in the tongues of men and angels
but have no love, we are but a clanging
So I'd be careful when fellowshipping
our Pentecostal brothers. There is
much we can learn from them about
experiencing God but, by the same
token, we must take care to always
submit our theological opinions and
speculations to the parameters that
Holy Mother Church gives us.
I hope this helps,