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August 27, 2012

Baptism in the Holy Spirit at the Heart of the Church

The gift of baptism in the Spirit and its transformation of many lives since the emergence of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in 1967 are reason for great joy and thanksgiving to God it states in a new document entitled

Baptism in the Holy Spirit soon to be published by the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Service in Rome.
This outpouring of the Spirit (the term preferred by French-speaking countries) is at the heart of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

What are some of the key assertions of the document:

One can see in these developments part of the heavenly answer to the prayer that Pope John XXIII asked all Catholics to pray during the Second Vatican Council,

Lord, renew your wonders in this our day as by a new Pentecost. (p 75)
Baptism in the Holy Spirit is an encounter with the living God, a life-transforming experience of the love of God the Father poured into one’s heart by the Holy Spirit, received through a total surrender to the lordship of Jesus Christ (p 9), a correction to the breakdown of an awareness of God’s presence that is leading humanity to lose our bearings, the breakdown of the family and the assaults on human dignity that John Paul II described as the culture of death. (p 7)

Baptism in the Holy Spirit experienced on the personal level within the context of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our day is rooted in God’s promises to His people to pour out my Spirit (Ez 39:29) and in Jesus’ mission to baptize you with the Holy Spirit. (Mk 1:7-8)

The coming of the Holy Spirit not something imperceptible but a visible, unmistakable response. (p 28)

In the post-biblical Patristic era experience of the Holy Spirit was regarded as integral to the sacraments of initiation. (p 38)

The experience of the Spirit is not a vague religious experience or a spiritual high. It is an experience

of the reality of the gospel. (p 32)
The coming of the Spirit at Pentecost and in the sacraments of initiation and the renewing or releasing of the Spirit already given is accompanied by charisms given for service and mission. They are not in themselves a measure of holiness (p 33) but the

exercising of a charism must itself be an act of love.
(p 34)

Several [Patristic] Fathers speak of the charisms as a normal accompaniment to the rite of Christian initiation. (p 40)

To be baptized in the Holy Spirit is to be filled with the love that eternally flows between Father and Son in the Holy Trinity, a love that changes a person at the deepest level of his or her being and makes one capable of loving God in return. (p 48)

From its nature as a yielding to the Spirit of God, baptism in the Spirit cannot be made dependent on a particular sign of its reception. (p 49)

The purpose of the document, as the Catholic Charismatic Renewal moves toward our 50th Jubilee, is to offer both theological reflections on the meaning of Baptism in the Spirit and pastoral guidelines for overseeing the reception and living out of this grace among the faithful, both as individuals and in groups. (p 7)

As the conclusion points out, Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI have called and prayed for a new Pentecost for the Church and for humanity in the third millennium (p 75).

The key to this new Pentecost?

Today I would like to extend this invitation to everyone. Let us rediscover dear brothers and sisters, the beauty of being baptized in the Holy Spirit; let us be aware again of our baptism and our confirmation, sources of grace that are always present. Let us ask the Virgin Mary to obtain a renewed Pentecost for the Church again today, a Pentecost that will spread in everyone the joy of living and witnessing to the Gospel. (Pope Benedict XVI Regina Caeli, May 2008) (p 4).

Come Holy Spirit and kindle in us the fire of your love and power. Lord Jesus, baptize us anew in the Holy Spirit so that we might be empowered witnesses of the New Evangelization in our day.

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