I remember a music class that I had in the seminary. I remember the teacher giving us seminarians a new way of looking at the gift of tongues. He said that the theology of Gregorian chant is the same theology as the gift of tongues. In Gregorian chant one word such as Alleluia is divided up in such a way that each sound by itself make no sense on it own. However it takes you into the presence of God.
We see this in the lives of the mystic, such as Theresa of Avila. Theresa speaks about the gift of jubilation. Jubilation is a form of singing in tongues. The person is so in love with God that they no longer know what to say. They just let a new song spring from their hearts.
Why do lovers speak in a poetic way? A lover might say to his beloved, “Your eyes are like the ocean.” The lover speaks this way because normal words, or rational words would not capture his love for his beloved. It is the same way with the lover speaking to God. They are so in love with God that normal words no longer are adequate.
The person who prays in tongues is a lover. Rational words are not enough. They need words and sounds that the spirit gives them. Tongues is not irrational, it is trans rational. This means that praying in tongues is not opposed to reason. It is simply speaking at a higher level than the rational.
Tongues allow us to express the love in our hearts when words fail us. How many lovers say to their beloved, “I wish I had the words to express how much I Love You.”
One of the benefits of tongues is that it helps us greatly in our ability to praise God. I often ask people to praise God for a long as they can. Most people can only praise God for a few minutes. After a few minutes they run out of things to say. Their words fail them.
But when we pray in tongues the Spirit gives us the words to praise God for much longer. I remember when I first received the gift of Tongues I could praise God for an hour in the car. I would not have been able to praise God so long without the gift of tongues.
May we be the lovers that sing and praise the Lord from our hearts, with words that the Spirit gives to us.
Blessing Fr Stefan