A doctor friend and myself attended Mass at St Mary’s RC Church in Vancouver. It was a Mass con-celebrated by the Parish Priest and Fr Rufus Pereira, of Mumbai a noted exorcist and acclaimed healer, an important member of the Community of International Exorcists. I find him acclaimed and respected for what could be seen as very good reasons. It seemed to be sponsored and organized by the catholic charismatic movement. We did arrive late, my fault I’m afraid. Somehow although we were standing at the Church entrance right at the back of the Foyer, we ended up in the front row. A young woman came from the front of the Church and invited us to sit at the front of the Church with her. The seats were in the second pew before the altar. This devout young woman walked past and through a huge crowd to invite us to sit beside her just as the homily ended, in time for the collection though.
The church was crowded and it was the usual mix of laity and it was that way until the Mass ended. Fr Rufus was introduced by a layman and not the Parish Priest. I always find this the start of the Laity preaching and removing the Pastor from the mainstream of the Parish. It is a sort of the old English shipping label on troopships, "Not wanted on Voyage." I fail to see why this leader prayed to the Holy Spirit without including the congregation as the Church always has. Why some private prayer of his own and not the great Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of the Faithful. Fr Rufus gave us a small introduction to his work. At this time many, if not all of the young people had left, but we were still in the midst of a packed church. Looking around it was mostly women over the age of thirty, in small groups. There was a young woman, on a bed, an invalid with some kind of walking aid and a woman pushed around in an upright wheelchair. In the pews around us, except for my friend and myself, there was only one other man., making three of us. In fact a quick count of heads, very cursory, made it a ratio of about five or six to one in favor of the women. These kinds of numbers are always prevalent on these occasions and it is always a worry for me. It has to be worrisome for the Church. There is a certain discipline present when men and women, husbands and wives pray together, outrageous behavior some how does not occur.
Listening to his talk I truly think the Father had serious doubts, expressed with charity and without malice of any kind, about the state of the laity present. and the way they practiced our religion. I find for myself, the Charismatic group, as a whole, are dangerous, but one on one with many of them one can find a certain need almost a longing in them for the truth of God in the Church. They seek I’m afraid, signs of a personal Holiness These signs are too often misinterpreted and defined as gospel truths by their leaders. I am afraid that whatever any priest teaches them, or criticizes their beliefs and does not fit or is not confirmed by many of their leaders, Church Truths are pushed aside and ignored. Fr Rufus obviously knows this and charitably but unfortunately not forcefully corrected them. He was ignored, especially over the Sacrament of Confession and Reconciliation, another Church problem. He very politely called them Pentecostals, but his religious criticism went way over their heads. He made it known strongly that ways of meditation and prophecy that came from eastern religions, yoga etc., were superstitious nonsense. He had no time for fortune telling or astrology even showed a strong disgust at Religious Sisters who taught Reiki. He was strongly opposed and stated it was Church teachings that Catholics could not be Masons. When talking one on one with the ordinary church members
I find they are ordinary Catholics whose faith, because of the state of the church, needs and are looking for, God’s manifestations to build up their faith. What I do find that they do not understand is "feelings" and where they come from. I find that many of these people are there not for themselves but for other relatives and friends. Some with whom I cannot spend time with are there seeking a holiness that is not catholic and no one helps them, encourages yes but avising no.
I was a little disgusted with Fr., who from his words is a doctor of biblical theology and his story of why he studied this subject in Rome, he was a little off base, bordering on disobedience. Perhaps I feel he told this part of his life erroneously a little harshly perhaps and should never have told us. When he told us of his bishop’s answer to his wish to stay in Rome to earn his doctorate the Bishop said by Father’s account, "Why not get something useful to the Diocese, like canon law as opposed to Scriptural Theology". Fr Rufus chose Biblical Theology. A rose by another name is still as sweet. I would urge Fr Rufus to continue with his witness and to stop worrying about saying “I” when describing the miracles of healing that came from his administration of the Sacrament of Confession and Reconciliation. He did show a concern for this habit, perhaps he feels he needs humility or some wrong headed member of the Church lectured him. Through his faith he prayed, absolved and healings took place it was a great example of what he did through faith, his faith. God gave him a task forgive sins and he does, is it not entirely possible that through his faith and sincerity God gave him the grace of healing. God it is who heals but only when we truly, deeply and sincerely believe and act. I felt and found listening to this priest an abundant grace of sincerity; he used his gift of healing superbly. In no way am I disparaging Fr Rufus, it is more like I ask, “Please continue, and get stronger and more forceful. Do not ease up, wickedness and ignorance truly needs to be destroyed and you have been given magnificent tools by which to defeat both those errors’. “
The good Father gave a good discourse, yet unfortunately from the obvious results no one took his statement and his warning into account. The only statement I heard with which I disagree, he did preach was, "We do not need knowledge just love." Funny thing about the catechism, It explains specifically what we are here for; it describes our reason for our journey on earth. The catechism describes how what we were made for in a descending order of importance, “To know Him, to love Him and to serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him forever in the next”. All of equal importance I'm sure. I am also sure Fr Rufus did not mean to preach against the catechism. He did give a very Catholic Homily. He drew from his works a strong observation, that all his unexpected healings and the magnificent of God’s works of Mercy always followed a request for confession or reconciliation. He did not say it was without exception that all the acts of healing occurred after the Sacrament was administered and in every case. He was strong in his statement it was after a good general confession. Then the sacrament was followed by many healings of body, soul and spirit for the petitioners. Fr Rufus was politely adamant that he could do nothing for anyone unless they had reconciled themselves with God through the rites of the Church. This he ably demonstrated as truth by the Scriptures. It seemed very few present really counted his words effective or valuable. I mean his very strong recommendation to follow the Church’s rituals and sacraments. You see from conversations with many of these charismatic leaders, one just before this event and from others in previous times, I have found their version of the catechetical teachings of the church, are meaningless even when accompanied by miracles of healings. It is a wonder to me, with what these Pentecostal elders teach, they even consider themselves catholic. What this priest said and did was very scriptural reminding me of the time Christ admitted he could not perform miracles in His home town of Nazareth. Was not St Mary’s Church, Christ’s home?
His account of the Prodigal Son was for me a little off base when you consider it in the light of the Sacrament of Confession and I abhor his interpretation of God as “Daddy”. The prodigal son to me has always been a description, a vivid description of a man under siege by his conscience. It is an examination of conscience, a realization of the better treatment at “home” for Catholics and where he is, his treatment does not compare with, and I include us, being at home in our Mother the Church. The son who has drifted apart from his family/community, living a life of denial towards his Father’s will, realizes the rewards of his lifestyle did not compare to the food, perhaps I might say the Eucharist, when we are properly penitent and reconciled with our catholic family. The Food made available for us when we are at home. Animals lived better, that is brutes without souls, dead through sin. He wanted the bread his father could supply. His father, who saw him coming a long way off, sacrificed a fatted calf for him. To the Hebrews of Christ’s time, this was to those who were really listening, a direct reference to the atonement sacrifice. I wondered at the time how many considered themselves in view of Father's teaching, how many considered themselves prodigal in any way? Fr Rufus pandered to the charismatic’s childish aspect by constantly referring to God as, “Daddy” a worrisome term. We or most of us present at the ceremony are confirmed as adults and soldiers of Christ in the Church. This is the action expressed by that sacrament, even the prodigal son returned home as an adult, in thought, as a son not as a child. It is the faith of a child we are to emulate, not the sometimes childish immature thoughts and speech; we hear at meetings and gatherings on occasions such as this. God must consider us simpletons when you see what He has done for us with the sacraments and what the Church tells us of their efficacy.
Then came the time when the anointing began, contrary to Fr’s unexpressed wishes but his implicit meaning which seemed to be if you come and you are not confessed of your sins, reconciled to God through the rite of confession, it is probable not a lot will occur. The warning was there for those who listened. Go to confession first and you will receive God’s grace. St Faustina said it best, “The prayers of the pure are always heard". The majority present stood up and went to the altar. This is where this movement loses my attention. It would seem from the attitudes and deportment of all present, this was what they were impatiently waiting for. Most present had gone to communion at the mass and not a lot of reverence and devotion was demonstrated. and yet eagerly they sought to have hands laid on them not that it is a sacrament of anointing really. It certainly does not fulfill the Church's instructions and wisdom for the Sacrament of Anointing. So I must present my anomaly. According to the Church’s teachings the Eucharist is the high point of our week. It did not seem so from where I was. It seemed that the anointing by the priest this evening was everything the Eucharist was not. I watched foolish people fall over at the laying on of hands. Here is my point. Does it make any of you wonder? Why did they fall over at the anointing and not at the reception of the Body and Blood of our Savior, a far greater occasion? Why not, what kind of blasphemy are these folks committing? Were they showing that they were full of sin one way or another and The Holy God showed them to be sinful? He showed them of their sinfulness in the presence of Jesus just as it happened to the villains in the Garden, the villains guarding the tomb and to Saul on the way to Damascus? A point some may think worth thinking over.
First the Priest gave them a strong warning that without the confessional rites of the Church there was, in his view, not a lot of value to them coming forward for a healing. Those that were slain in the spirit did not seem to fit any known medical practice and certainly if the priest was correct it had no real religious value towards salvation and he should have said, “Do not waste my time and yours”. Medically if the medical reason for “fainting” is examined it seems that the left side of the brain that sends blood to the body, the side with the highest pressure looses its force. The lessening pressure of this pump causes blood to slow down and the brain to “sleep”. I believe that the heart and soul work together and whatever affects the soul can disrupt the heart seriously causing us problems. Let me give you these definitions that can be found on the “’Net. Emotional stress. Emotions like fright, pain, anxiety, or shock can affect the body's nervous system, causing blood pressure to drop. This is the reason why people faint when something frightens or horrifies them, like the sight of blood and I add sin in the soul. Cardiac problems. An abnormal heartbeat and other heart problems can cause a person to faint. If someone is fainting a lot, especially during exercise or exertion, doctors may suspect heart problems and run tests to look for a heart condition. What about soul condition? What however if the soul is effected with a spiritual emotion? What if the soul is occupied with many venial sins, so very many of them, or just one mortal sin, is this not some kind of spiritual distress or a deep emotion interiorly brought on by the soul and a pang of conscience put aside and severely stifled? Surely as Catholics we must know the truth in this statement? What could happen if the one laying on hands is smitten with the sin of pride how would it affect a soul on the end of such nonsense, a soul who is in a state of grace? Will she the soul be spiritually emotionally stressed with the requisite pity for the sinful soul? Who knows really what is happening interiorly? There are and have been cases where Husbands, Wives, Parents, Priests and other loving souls are knowledgeable about the state of others. Look at the relationship of Husbands and Wives, who know what the other is thinking without any apparent effort. Is this not directly drawn from souls united by God in Marriage. What else is there in the meaning, “What God has joined together”? Iranaeus of Lyon quoting Greek philosophers, in his tome on the Holy Spirit wrote, “Like knows like”. The other side of this coin must count too; This "Like" should be able on some plane in the soul recognize our enemy. Is this not discernment of a very special kind? It may have been Ignatius of Antioch.
One should always understand the loss of consciousness from the medical point of view. Every doctor at one time has been faced with a loss of consciousness and is trained to view dispassionately, bodies traumatized so badly that they are supine. Ask any doctor and the first thing they see are disheveled clothes. I was at the front of the Church and saw no women with clothes straying above the knees. Men and women who fall over due to fainting fits or similar catastrophes lay with no movement, eyes do not flicker. Yet I heard the Priest tell one who had descended to the ground, “Close your eyes and rest”. At first no one was slain in the spirit and then it was like, “We are supposed to fall and down they went”.
Is this the psychic healing of Paul’s natural man the 'Physikos' of first Corinthians? There were absolutely no after effects. It seemed looking at some it was harder for them to rise, to get up and needed lots of pulling and pushing.
I wish and I pray that sometime the priesthood sees past the lack of reasoning and intellect in these prayer groups and take over the teaching and leadership needed to guide them correctly. Teaching them Catholicism and not Pentecostalism, Perhaps it might help if they read first the history of Charismatic-ism, the book “Enthusiasm” written by Msgr. Ronald Knox, an Oxford Don