The Baptism in the Spirit has changed my life! When I was prayed over in 1968, the Holy Spirit visited me in a personal Pentecost. In this column I want to share with you some of what the Lord has taught me over the years. This Golden Jubilee Year is good time to reflect on what the Baptism in the Holy Spirit can (and should) do in our lives. I think there are at least ten things the Baptism in the Spirit can do for us.
I. BAPTISM IN THE SPIRIT CAN GIVE YOU ANEW LIFE IN THE SPIRIT.
Being baptized in the Spirit can make a decisive difference in your life. Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap., the preacher to the papal household, says that he has had two lives, one before being baptized in the Spirit and one after. When you read or hear good testimonies, there is always a before and an after. Has there been a before and an after in your life? Do you want that? If so, the Baptism in the Holy Spirit can do that for you.
II. BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT CAN BRING YOU INTO A LIVING RELATIONSHIP WITH THE FATHER AND THE SON.
Do you want to be brought into the experience of the love of the Father and the Son? My wife, Patti, likes to use Romans 5:5 as a definition of what it means to be baptized in the Holy Spirit: “The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Do you want to have a sense of being a beloved child of the Father, crying out, “Abba, Father” (cf. Rom. 8:15)? Scripture tells us, “No one can say ‘ Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.” Is that a living reality in your heart? Do you want to know God the Father and Jesus the Son in a more intimate way? If so, then the Baptism in the Holy Spirit can do that for you.
III. BAPTISM IN THE SPIRIT CAN SIGNIFICANTLY CHANGE YOUR PRAYER LIFE.
Do you have a real prayer life? Do you give time to prayer every day? Is this part of your daily schedule, like eating and sleeping? In prayer, do you want to experience a greater sense of adoration, praise and thanksgiving to the Lord? Do you want to enter into a charismatic dimension in prayer, that is, the experience of tongues, prophecy, revelation, guidance, inspirations, etc.? (We are certainly not talking about experiencing all of these all the time, but rather some of them some of the time…at least the gift of praying in tongues.) If you want your prayer life to be significantly changed, the Baptism in the Spirit can do that for you.
IV. BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT CAN GIVE YOU A LOVE FOR THE WORD OF GOD.
Would you like to be irresistibly drawn to the Word of God, Holy Scripture? Do you want to eat and drink the Word of God, like Ezekiel in the Old Testament and John in Revelations? In the early days of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, it was not unheard of for people to stay up all night reading Scripture. The Holy Spirit produces that hunger and desire for God’s Word. If you want that kind of attraction for Holy Scripture in our life, the Baptism in the Spirit can do that for you.
V. BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT CAN PROPEL YOU TO BE INVOLVED IN WITNESS AND EVANGELISM.
One of the primary purposes of the outpouring of the Spirit was to give us the power to witness to Jesus (cf. John 15:26-27; Acts 1:8). Would you like to have that impulse to share the good news, according to your life circumstances, wherever you are? Do you want to look for opportunities to bear witness in word and deed? If so, the Baptism in the Spirit can do that for you.
VI. BAPTISM IN THE SPIRIT CAN CAUSE YOU TO WANT TO MEET TOGETHER WITH OTHER CATHOLIC CHARISMATICS FOR FELLOWSHIP AND SUPPORT.
Scripture tells us, “Do not neglect to meet together as is the habit of some…”(Heb. 10:25). We know that a way of getting a fire to burn out is to pull the logs apart. In a similar way, if we are pulled apart from each other, our spiritual fire will go out, both individually and collectively. Do you desire some kind of regular gathering for spiritual growth an element in your life? If so, the Baptism in the Spirit can do that for you.
VII. BAPTISM IN THE SPIRIT CAN HELP YOU TO BE WILLING TO RECEIVE AND EXERCISE SPIRITUAL GIFTS.
We see especially in the Acts of the Apostles that there is a mysterious link between the coming of the Holy Spirit and charismatic gifts. When the Holy Spirit is poured out, there is an outbreak of charismatic activity. The spiritual gifts are given for the common good (cf. 1 Cor. 12:7). Scripture states that there are different kinds of gifts, for example: preaching, teaching, faith, miracles, healing, prophecy, revelation, discernment of spirits, giving money, exercising leadership, hospitality, works of mercy, administration, etc., to name a few. Baptism in the Spirit can help us to be open to receiving and using the spiritual gifts. Do you want to be able to contribute any gift to the Body of Christ? If so, Baptism in the Spirit can do that for you.
VIII. BAPTISM IN THE SPIRIT CAN HELP YOU TO EXPERIENCE A CHANGE IN YOUR MORAL LIFE, YOUR ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIOR.
Has there been a real break with serious sin or is serious sin still a regular occurrence in your life? This is a basic point but we need to start there before moving on. Are you still attached to some deep character flaws, for example, in the use of the tongue? Do you still have what the spiritual writers call an “affection for sin”, a pet sin that is very familiar and you can’t seem to get rid of, for example, a spirit of criticism? Try to imagine having a pet poisonous snake that you like to wrap around your neck. You don’t even realize when the snake is biting you and injecting poison into you. Do you want to be better able to love God, whom you cannot see and also love your neighbor, whom you can see (and is apt to be irritating!)? Do you want to see some improvement in your moral life, some change for the better? If so, Baptism in the Spirit can help to do that for you.
IX. BAPTISM IN THE SPIRIT CAN HELP YOU EXPERIENCE A CHANGE IN YOUR APPROACH TO THE SACRAMENTS.
Do you want to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation regularly, with repentance and faith, as a means of spiritual growth? Would you like your experience of the Mass changed so that you enter into the liturgy, join with the priest, and make it your own offering and prayer? Do you want to experience a change in your reception of the Eucharist so that it is a blessed time of communion with the Lord and not just a routine formality? If so, the Baptism in the Spirit can help to do that for you.
X. BAPTISM IN THE SPIRIT CAN GIVE YOU AN EXPERIENCE OF A CONVERSION IN YOUR MIND.
Do you have a desire to learn what the Catholic Church teaches? Are you familiar with the Documents of Vatican II and the Catholic Catechism? Do you know basic Catholic teaching? Do you want to read and understand what authentic Catholic writers are saying? Do you want to be a well-informed Catholic Charismatic Christian? Do you want your beliefs to influence your actions, conversations, and your vote? Do you want to put on not only the Spirit of Christ but also put on the mind of Christ? If so, the Baptism in the Spirit can help to do that for you.
In short, Baptism in the Holy Spirit can lead you into a deeper and richer experience of your Christian life. It is available to those who are hungry and thirsty, and who ask in faith, based on the promises of the Lord.
©Al Mansfield, 2015