The phenomenon of “praying in tongues,” or glossalalia as it is known in technical terms. This praying in tongues is often most well known in charismatic circles. It is a kind of prayer used by people who have been renewed in the Holy Spirit. I don’t like the term “Baptized in the Spirit,” because all people who have been validly baptized, received the Holy Spirit. But, back to the topic.
This form of prayer is a gift of the Holy Spirit as written of by St. Paul. There are actually more than one kind of gift of tongues. The one being spoken of, where people speak in a kind of gibberish and believe that the Holy Spirit is praying in and through them. And, the second is a direct message from God in an unknown tongue, in which another person is given a gift of interpretation.
There are many good people, on both sides of this issue. Those who believe in the gift of tongues and use it and those who do not believe. Some people are frightened by this gift. Indeed, I believe there is some validity to this charism, but there are also people who imitate what they believe to be a gift. There are stories of the saints speaking in strange and unknown languages. And stories of Christians speaking in foreign or unknown languages all the way back to the early Church and on.
I personally believe is this strange, supernatural gift. There is something soothing about a group of charismatics singing together in an uncoordinated yet unique harmony. It almost resembles a kind of Gregorian Chant.
Now, what always confounds me is the number of people who believe in the gift of tongues. They come together for prayer meetings and love to sing and pray in this unknown language(s), yet, the very same people have a problem with chant and hymns and the Mass itself being celebrated in Latin.
Of course Latin is a mysterious language. Most ordinary people have no idea of what is being said in Latin, but, they have no way of knowing what is being said in tongues and will never know. Tongues is a mysterious gift of God the Holy Spirit.
What we need today is more mystery! Why don’t those people who believe so strongly in the beautiful mystery of the gift of tongues try to enter into theTraditional Latin Mass so willingly and with open mind, as they do with the other gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Below are two videos. The first is of this scientific study on the gift of tongues. The second is a clip from the Solemn Pontifical High Mass offered by Raymond Cardinal Burke.