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Jimmy Sanderford wrote:

Hi, guys —

I was searching the internet for someone who had experiences similar to those Jamie wrote about in his posting. Jamie is not alone.

My wife speaks in tongues about twice a month. The last time was very unusual because it appeared to be in Latin. My wife went to Catholic School however she is currently a Pentecostal.

Pentecostals believe in the in-filling of the Spirit, however this "night thing" has gotten me stumped as it has Jamie.

Jimmy Sanderford

  { My wife has a similar experience of speaking in tongues her sleep. }

John replied:

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 tongues.

It's really two gifts.

  1. One is "speaking in Tongues" is a prophetic utterance which requires in interpretation.

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 of tongues.
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 settings.

Usually however, one person will speak in tongues and another will give the interpretation.

  1. 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 we pray.

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 our tongues.

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 heresy.

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:

  • Baptism
  • Confirmation, and
  • Eucharist.

We receive the Holy Spirit at Baptism; we are sealed with the Spirit at Confirmation
(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, 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 Catholic Tradition.
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 cymbal.

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,

John DiMascio

Jim replied:

Hey, John —

Thanks for your explanation.  You did a good job.

Maybe I can clarify my question.

We are both are filled with the Spirit and believe in what you described. My question is:

Have you or do you know of anyone that speaks in tongues in their sleep?

I can assure you what I hear out of my wife's mouth is not an utterance but a language. Nevertheless, I also know it is from God because there is a dream associated with it: evil verses good.

I'm sure there is spiritual warfare going on but she is doing it in her sleep. During these events, she prays out to Jesus and commands things to be done In His Name. It is very entertaining at times but also scary. I wake her up when the screaming gets too loud and starts waking up the kids.

Have you ever heard of this happening to anyone else in their sleep?



Mary Ann replied:

Jimmy —

I have heard of people speaking in tongues while asleep, and there is certainly no reason why it shouldn't be. However, it sounds as if your wife is speaking English and doing deliverance in her sleep, which is different. It could be from the stress of doing too much spiritual warfare.

We are not supposed to focus on evil, but rather on God. Our main spiritual warfare comes from:

  • prayer
  • practicing virtue, and
  • being priests in Jesus Christ, the High Priest

not from consciously and continually abjuring evil spirits.

Mary Ann

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