New Albertville, MO: A local Catholic lay minister is making waves at his parish by suggesting that people pray for the gift of speaking in tongues. Specifically, Spanish.
"Look, in 1 Corinthians, Paul told us to eagerly desire the gifts of the Spirit and to be open to whatever it is the Spirit wants to give us," explained Pastoral Associate Dan Olsen. "And we should be open to wherever the Spirit leads. But we have to ask, and we may as well ask for Spanish."
Olsen's comments came after his parish, Mary, Queen of Peace, saw the Spanish-speaking population jump 25% in the past two years.
"It's obedience to God, plus a move toward hospitality to the stranger," argues Olsen. "Most of know very little Spanish; in fact, our new parishioners usually know more English than we do Spanish. But we've got to get to know each other, and this seemed like the right way to start."
Olsen is getting mixed reaction in his parish. Many are quietly saying they'd rather receive a less visible gift like faith or wisdom instead. Others are saying that Olsen is missing the point of the gift of tongues, that it is about a powerful experience of the Spirit that overcomes human language. Another parishioner argued that if they would just receive the gift of interpretation of tongues, that would be the best case efficiency scenario. Most are wondering why they just can't offer Spanish language courses through the parish.
Olsen remains undeterred by the criticisms. "It never hurts to ask God for our deepest needs. Overcoming this division is definitely a deep need in our parish. Besides, it would be a real bummer if people prayed for tongues and started praying in, say, Esperanto."