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"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

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Tuesday, 14 May 2013

LOOKING TOWARDS PENTECOST - 1: THE CATHOLIC CHARISMATIC RENEWAL


my source: The Crossroads Initiative

BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
by Father Raniero Cantalamessa o.f.m (Cap)

 SUMMARY: The Baptism in the Spirit is not a sacrament, but it is related to several sacraments. The Baptism in the Spirit makes real and in a way renews Christian initiation. At the beginning of the Church, Baptism was administered to adults who converted from paganism and who, made on the occasion of Baptism, an act of faith and a free and mature choice. Today it is substituted instead by intermediary parents or godparents. In this situation, rarely, or never, does the baptized person ever reach the stage of proclaiming in the Holy Spirit "Jesus is Lord". And until one reaches this point, everything else in the Christian life remains out of focus and immature. Miracles no longer happen and we experience what Jesus did in Nazareth: "Jesus could not perform many miracles because of their lack of faith" (Mt.13.58). The Baptism in the Spirit effectiveness in reactivating baptism consists in this: finally man contributes his part - namely, he makes a choice of faith, prepared in repentance that allows the work of God to set itself free and to emanate all its strength. It is as if the plug is pulled and the light is switched on. The gift of God is finally "untied" and the Spirit is allowed to flow like a fragrance in the Christian life.

Before talking about the Baptism in the Spirit, it is important to try and understand what the Renewal in the Spirit is all about. After the Second Vatican Council, many things in the Church's life were renewed - the liturgy, pastoral care, canon law code, the constitutions of the religious orders and their dress. Although all these things are important, they are only external things and woe to us if we stop there and think the task is finished, because it is not structures but souls that are important to God. "It is in men's souls that the Church is beautiful," writes St. Ambrose, and therefore it is in men's souls that she must make herself beautiful. 

God Is Author and Power

The Renewal is a renewal in which God, not man, is the principle author. "I, not you," says God, "make all things new" (Rev 21:5); "My Spirit - and He alone - may renew the face of the earth" (see Psalm 104:30). From the religious point of view, we tend to view things from a ptolemaic perspective: at the foundation there are our efforts - organization, efficiency, reforms, goodwill - with the earth here as the center which God comes to strengthen and crown, by His grace and our effort.

We must - at this point the Word of God cries out - "give the power back to God" (Psalm 68:35) because "the power belongs to God" (Psalm 62:12). For too long we have usurped this power of His from God, by managing it as if it were ours, as if it was up to us to "govern" the power of God. We have to totally change our perspective. That is, to acknowledge simply that without the Holy Spirit, we cannot do anything, not even say, Jesus is Lord!" (I Cor 12:3).

Baptism in the Spirit and the Sacrament of Baptism

The Baptism in the Spirit is not a sacrament, but it is related to a sacrament, to several sacraments in fact - to the sacraments of Christian initiation. The Baptism in the Spirit makes real and in a way renews Christian initiation. The primary relationship is with the Sacrament of Baptism. In fact, this experience is called the Baptism in the Spirit by English-speaking people. 

We believe that the Baptism in the Spirit makes real and revitalizes our baptism. To understand how a sacrament which was received so many years ago, usually immediately after our birth could suddenly come back to life and emanate so much energy, as often happens through the Baptism in the Spirit, it is important to look at our understanding of sacramental theology.

Catholic theology recognizes the concept of a valid but tied sacrament. A sacrament is called tied if the fruit that should accompany it remains bound because of certain blocks that prevent its effectiveness. An extreme example of this is the Sacrament of Matrimony or Holy Orders received in the state of mortal sin. In such circumstances these sacraments cannot grant any grace to people until the obstacle of sin is removed through penance. Once this happens the sacrament is said to live again thanks to the indelible character and irrevocability of the gift of God: God remains faithful even if we are unfaithful because He cannot deny Himself (see Timothy 2:13).

In the case of baptism what is it that causes the fruit of the sacrament to stay tied? The sacraments are not magical rituals that act mechanically, without the person's knowledge or disregarding any response on his part. Their effectiveness is the fruit of a synergy or cooperation between divine omnipotence - in reality the grace of Christ or the Holy Spirit and human freedom, because as St. Augustine said, "The one who created you without your cooperation, will not save without your cooperation."

The opus operatum of baptism, namely, God's part or grace, has several aspects - forgiveness of sins, the gift of the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity (these, however, only as a seed), divine sonship - all of which are operated through the effective action of the Holy Spirit. But what does the opus operantis in baptism - namely, man's part, consist of? It consists of faith! Whoever believes and is baptized shall be saved (Mark 16:16). At the side of baptism, therefore, there is another element: the faith of man. "To all who received Him He gave the power to become children of God: to those who believe in His name" (John 1:13). 

Baptism is like a divine seal put on the faith of man: having heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation and having believed in it, you have received (of course, in baptism) the seal of the Holy Spirit (see Ephesians 1:13)

Baptism and Confirmation of Faith

At the beginning of the Church, Baptism was such a powerful event and so rich in grace that there was no need normally of a new effusion of the Spirit like we have today. Baptism was ministered to adults who converted from paganism and who, properly instructed, were in the position to make, on the occasion of baptism, an act of faith and a free and mature choice. It is sufficient to read the mistagogic catechesis on baptism attributed to Cyril of Jerusalem to become aware of the depth of faith to which those waiting for baptism were led. In substance, they arrived at baptism through a true and real conversion, and thus for them baptism was a real washing, a personal renewal, and a rebirth in the Holy Spirit.

The favorable circumstances that allowed baptism, at the origins of the Church, to operate with so much power was that the grace of God and man's response met at the same time, and there was a perfect synchronization

Infant Baptism in Non-Christian Environment

But now this synchronization has been broken, as we are baptized as infants, and little by little this aspect of the free and personal act of faith no longer happens. It was substituted instead by a decision by intermediary parents or godparents. When a child grew up in a totally Christian environment, this faith still could flourish. even though at a slower rate. Now, however, this is no longer the case and our spiritual environment is even worse than the one at the time of the Middle Ages. Not that there is no normal Christian life, but this is now the exception rather than the rule.

In this situation, rarely, or never, does the baptized person ever reach the stage of proclaiming in the Holy Spirit, "Jesus is Lord." And until one reaches this point, everything else in the Christian life remains out of focus and immature. Miracles no longer happen, and we experience what Jesus did in Nazareth: "Jesus could not perform many miracles because of their lack of faith." (Mt 13. 58)

God's Will

Here, then, is what I feel is the significance of the Baptism in the Spirit. It is God's answer to this malfunctioning that has grown up in the Christian life in the Sacrament of Baptism.
It is an accepted fact that over the last few years there has been some concern on the part of the Church, among the bishops, that the Christian sacraments, especially baptism, are being administered to people who will not make any use of them in life. As a result, it has even been suggested that baptism should not be administered unless there are some minimum guarantees that it will be cultivated and valued by the child in question. For one should not throw pearls to dogs, as Jesus said, and baptism is a pearl, because it is the fruit of the blood of Christ.

But it seems that God was concerned about this situation even before the Church was, and raised up here and there in the Church movements aimed at renewing Christian initiation in adults. The Charismatic Renewal is one of these movements and in it the principle grace is, without doubt, linked to the Baptism of the Spirit and to what comes before it.

Release and Confirmation of Faith

It's effectiveness in reactivating baptism consists in this: finally man contributes his part - namely, he makes a choice of faith, prepared in repentance that allows the work of God to set itself free and to emanate all its strength. It is as if the plug is pulled and the light is switched on. The gift of God is finally "untied" and the Spirit is allowed to flow like a fragrance in the Christian life.

In addition to the renewal of the grace of baptism, the Baptism in the Spirit is also a confirmation of one's own baptism, a deliberate "yes" to it, to its fruit and its commitments, and as such it is also similar to Confirmation too. Confirmation being the sacrament that develops, confirms, and brings to completion the work of baptism. From it, too, comes that desire for greater involvement in the apostolic and missionary dimension of the Church that is usually noted in those who receive the Baptism in the Spirit. They feel more inclined to cooperate with the building up of the Church, to put themselves at her service in various ministries both clerical and lay, to witness for Christ -to do all those things that recall the happening of Pentecost and which are actuated in the Sacrament of Confirmation.

The Baptism of the Spirit is not the only occasion known within the Church for this reviving of the sacraments of initiation. There is, for example, the renewal of the baptismal promises in the Easter vigil, and there are the spiritual exercises, and the religious professions, sometimes called a "second baptism." and at the sacrament level there is Confirmation. 

It is also not difficult to discover in the lives of the saints, the presence of a spontaneous effusion, especially on the occasion of their conversion. The difference with the Baptism in the Spirit, however, is that it is open to all the people of God, small and great, and not only to those privileged ones who do the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises or make a religious profession.

The Will of God in History

Where does this extraordinary force that we experienced when we were Baptized in the Spirit come from? What we are talking about is not just some theory, but something that we ourselves have experienced and therefore can say with John, "What we have heard, what we have seen with our own eyes, what our hands have touched, this we also announce to you, so that you too be in communion with us." (see l John 1:1-11). The explanation of this force is in the will of God - because God was pleased to renew the Church today by this means - and this is enough.

There are certainly some biblical precedents, like the one told in Acts 8:14-17, when Peter and John, having heard that Samaria welcomed the Word of God, went there, prayed for them, and laid hands on them so that they could receive the Holy Spirit. But these biblical precedents, are not sufficient to explain the vastness and depth of the contemporary manifestation of the effusion of the Spirit.

The explanation therefore is in God's plan. We could say, by paraphrasing a famous saying of the Apostle Paul: Because Christians, with all their organization, were not able to transmit the power of the Spirit, God was pleased to renew the believers through the foolishness of the Baptism in the Spirit. In fact theologians look for an explanation and responsible people for moderation, but simple souls touch with their hands the power of Christ in the Baptism of the Spirit" (1Cor 12:1-24)

We men, and in particular we men of the Church, tend to limit God in His freedom: we tend to insist that He follows a compulsory pattern (the so called channels of grace) and we forget that God is a torrent that breaks loose and creates its own path and that the Spirit blows where and how he wants (notwithstanding the role of the teaching of the Church to discern what actually comes from the Spirit and what does not come from Him). What does the Baptism of the Spirit consist of and how does it work? In the Baptism of the Spirit there is a secret, mysterious move of God that is His way of becoming present, in a way that is different for each one because only He knows us in our inner part and how to act upon our unique personality. There is also the external community part which is the same for everyone and consists mainly of three things: brotherly love, laying on of hands, and prayer. These are non-sacramental but simply ecclesiastic elements.

Holy Spirit Proceeding from the Father and the Son

Where does the grace we experience in the Baptism of the Spirit come from? From those around us? No! From the person who receives it? No! It comes from God! We can only say that such grace is related to baptism, because God acts always with coherence and faithfulness and He does not do and undo. He honors the commitments and institutions of Christ. One thing is certain - that it is not the brothers who impart the Holy Spirit, but they do invoke the Holy Spirit on the person. The Spirit cannot be given by any man, not even the Pope or a bishop, because no man possesses by himself the Holy Spirit. Only Jesus may give the Holy Spirit; all the others do not possess the Holy Spirit, but rather are possessed by Him. As to the manner of this grace, we may speak of a new coming of the Holy Spirit, of a new mission by the Father through Jesus Christ, or a new anointing corresponding to a new degree of grace.

Fr. Cantalamessa has been the Papal preacher to Pope John Paul II's Pontifical household since 1980. Originally from the (ICCRS) newsletter, this article is apparently based on a talk given to a gathering of religious men.
Baptism of the Holy Spirit
While Jesus was in their company he told them not to leave Jerusalem. 'You must wait', he said, 'for the promise made by my Father, about which you have heard me speak: John, as you know, baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit, and within the next few days.' Acts 1:4-5

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes down on you; then you are to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, yes, even to the ends of the earth.' Acts 1:8

From the Apostle Peter's first sermon on the day of Pentecost: 'The Jesus we speak of has been raised by God, as we can all bear witness. Exalted thus at God's right hand, he received the Holy Spirit from the Father, as was promised, and all that you now see and hear flows from him.' Acts 2:32-33 

What is the baptism in the Holy Spirit? It is an experience of God present in the person of the Holy Spirit. It is an experience required by Jesus for all of His disciples, and as such, is one of the seven Sacraments that our Church bestows on and requires of all the faithful - Confirmation - the receiving of the Holy Spirit. As with all the Sacraments, it is bestowed with faith, hope, and love. Faith, that in fact God is acting to impart a special grace to the person receiving; hope, that the persons receiving will indeed open their heart and mind to receive all that God would have them receive from the Sacrament; and love, that entrusts to God the outcome of the Sacrament.

As we look at this question, we pray that the Holy Spirit will take these efforts in words, as poor and inadequate as they are, and use them to bless the reader with a deeper experience of the love of God and the power of God available to each of His children. This we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.

Let us begin by establishing the basis of understanding from what we have been taught in the Scriptures by our Church over the centuries since the resurrection of Jesus. God became man in the person of Jesus in order to pay the price of our redemption from the hold of Satan. As revealed in Genesis, God had given the entire world over to the responsibility of man in the person of Adam. The action of our first human father caused him to be separated from God by his own free choice, and consequently all human children would be born into a family that was separated from God. But more than that, we learned that when the separation from God occurred, we came under the dominion and rule of Satan as children of a human father ruled by Satan.

Even now in the world, if a citizen of one country wants to become a citizen of another, the person must make the request and follow the laws necessary, or the new citizenship is not granted. If the person is a criminal trying to avoid the law in their native land, the new country may not be able to grant citizenship. This may help us to understand why God knew He must become a human being (limited by humanity, and subject to all the temptations of humanity) in order to qualify as a worthy substitute for the punishment due to Adam, and every child of Adam.

The Scriptures put it this way, and our Church has taught it as the Doctrine of Original Sin: one person sinned, and many were made sinners, and yet one Man - Jesus - did not sin. Jesus willingly laid down his life to pay the penalty for the one man Adam who did sin. Since Jesus paid the penalty for Adam, the scale of justice is balanced and the Devil has no right to hold Adam separated from God any longer.

But then what about you and me? God's plan for all of us was effective in Jesus. Since none of us had any choice when we were born into this world about whether or not we wanted to be separated from God by our birth into the family of Adam, God could now open the door for our free choice in Christ Jesus. So God summed up all humanity that would ever be born from the family of Adam into Adam. Therefore when Jesus paid the penalty for the one person, He thereby paid the price for all persons. Now God's provision for redeeming us from the ownership of Satan by our birth could be received by any human that would receive the gift of Jesus as our substitute. Jesus became our substitute in full payment for our life of sin that deserved the penalty of death.

Why did we deserve a death penalty? Consider that your father gave you a legacy for your children of 1000 acres of land for each child. Then you decided you wanted to spend the money that the land would bring, so you sold your children's birthright. When your children were born they had lost their birthright, not due to their own action, but to yours! Now consider that your father is still alive, and his plan for blessing your children has not changed. So he must now go to the legal owner and pay the necessary price to redeem the land back. Then if any of your children come to your father, doesn't he have the right to give the legacy to them for their enjoyment? So God did this in Jesus. Otherwise, God would have been unrighteous to demand back something that had rightfully passed to the ownership of another without paying the full price. So now it is possible for God to give us the right to have fellowship with Him in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Redeemer. Now we are each faced with the responsibility of a choice.

But let us look at another aspect of this wonderful plan of God's for a moment in order to understand what our choice must be. Let's say you were born into the Smith family. After you grew up, you decided you did not like the name of Smith, so you changed your name to Jones. Even though you have a new name you are still in the Smith family, and the bloodline of your father is still in your veins. You may try to change your name a hundred times, but you will always be in the Smith family until you die. So it is with each of us born into the family of our human father, Adam.

We separated from God by birth. We are sinners not because of what we do, but by our birth. It is not our sin that makes us sinners, but we sin because it is in our nature as humans, as sinners by birth. Fish swim because it is in their nature to swim, and we sin because it is in our nature to sin!

God knew this and so He made provision in Jesus for us to be able to choose to enter into the death that Jesus died for us and thereby pass out of the control of the nature of sin that Satan had held us under. We see the basic sin with which we are tempted is that we want to do things our way in our time and not need to depend on God. This is the 'pride of life' that ensnared our first father, Adam, and it lives in us. So there is a power in our nature that wants to sin; God needs to provide for us a greater power if we are going to be able to resist the daily temptations to live independent from Him. This is God's secret revealed through the Church by the Holy Spirit - Christ Jesus will become our life through the ongoing ministry of the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Now we need to understand the word 'baptism'. 'Baptism' is a Greek word that can be understood in this way: a sunken wooden ship is a baptized ship. The wood is both completely immersed in the water, and the water has permeated into the very fiber of the wood. Not only has the use of the ship been severely altered, but the very substance of the ship is transformed. As we begin to understand this word 'baptism', we can see the gift of life that is given in the Sacrament of Baptism.

By faith in the active power of God, we receive an immersion into the death of Jesus Christ at the Sacrament of Baptism. The blood that He poured out of His veins became the substance that washed away all our actions of sin, and the death that He dies allows us to be free of the nature of sin which made us sin in the first place. We are sunk into Him, into His substitutionary death for each of us, and we are free to be reconciled with our real father, God.

In Baptism, we are given new life in Him through our identification with Him in His resurrection. We are born again from the dead. All of this happens in fact at the time of our Sacrament of Baptism, and it is received by our parents by faith in God in our behalf. They know that someday God will bring into our experience that which they had entrusted to Him by faith. Our full experience of this new life awaits our willingness to enter into that death to our own self-centered lives, in order that we also can experience His resurrection with Him.

All the facts are now in place in our lives, and God waits for us to come to Him in Christ Jesus to claim our new birthright. At this point, we can see both what the 'baptism' in the Holy Spirit is, and why Jesus would insist upon the disciples waiting for the empowerment before beginning their task of being His witnesses. What about this 'baptism' in, or with the Holy Spirit, or perhaps we could also call it the Spirit of Holiness? Again, our Father God is so very thorough in His love for us. God knew that we would not be able to hold onto this new life in Christ that He had given us in the death and resurrection of Christ without the power, or ability, of the Holy Spirit active in our lives. So God gives the Holy Spirit to Jesus for Him to give to all who would come to Him as their ability to follow Him each day of their lives. To be baptized into or with the Spirit of Holiness is to allow ourselves toe completely filled in our hearts and minds with Holiness, and to give over control of our lives to the Holy Spirit.
The plan of God in our lives is the same as in the life of Jesus when He walked the earth in the limitations of humanity. It was the Holy Spirit that caused Him to be conceived and was with Him as He grew and matured in obedience. The Holy Spirit empowered Him to walk in ministry in Israel, suffer, be crucified on our behalf, and be willing to die so that His Father's plan might take full effect for all of us. This same Spirit of Holiness that enabled Him is now given by Him to enable us to walk in holiness of life with Him and in Him and for Him.

Holiness is most simply understood as single-mindedness in wanting God to have the joy of guiding and enabling our lives. Now all this is bestowed by faith at the time of our Confirmation, but few people really experience this empowering at that time of their lives. All the things of God are first received by faith in the facts He has spoken. Our experience of these facts will follow as we continue in faith to believe that what God has said is really true.

Over the ages, our Church has proclaimed and continues to proclaim the personal responsibility of all human beings to choose for themselves the plan of God - or the gifts so lavishly given cannot be experienced. The basic Sacraments of initiation into our faith have been given to all of us, and yet without mature adult understanding and acceptance, we do not experience the full benefit of all that God has provided for us in the facts of these Sacraments. Let us not continue in our ignorance that is so costly to our everyday life of grace in Jesus Christ, but come to Him from whom all blessings flow - Jesus, the Christ, the Anointed of God, our Savior, our Redeemer, and humbly ask Him to immerse us into His Spirit of Holiness. 



Jesus is Lord

Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM, CAP
Fr. Cantalamessa is the preacher to the Papal Household. For the last 21 years he has preached for Pope John Paul II on Fridays during Advent and Lent. He leads numerous formation sessions and retreats throughout the world. Fr. Cantalamessa is a prophetic voice speaking to many people throughout the world. He has a deep passion for Christian unity.

In 1975, while I was a professor of Ancient Christianity at the Catholic University of Milan, I began hearing about a new move in the church, a new spirit, a new way of praying. In the beginning I was very "anti." I told the lady who described this activity to me: "You should never go again to that particular retreat house." I was surprised to see that these people, whom you already realize were part of the charismatic renewal, were not offended by my criticism. They loved me and even asked me to give them teachings.

I once gave a university course about the charismatic and prophetic movements in the early church just to try to understand what was going on now. Some manifestations were exactly like those which had occurred in the first Christian communities, in Corinth, for instance. But, as you may imagine, I was unprepared to accept other things, like speaking in tongues.

In 1977, a lady from Milan received four all-inclusive tickets to go to America to attend a conference in Kansas City. This was to be a large interdenominational gathering of 40,000 people, half Catholics and half other Christian denominations. I was given one of these tickets because I was coming to the States to start learning English. I thought to myself: "After all, in a week I shall be over all this annoyance."

In Kansas City, there was one thing which particularly impressed me and I must share it with you. At one moment during the conference someone began to speak prophetic words. Prophetic words are authoritative messages spoken in the name of God: "You bishops, mourn and weep because the body of my Son is broken. You priests, mourn and weep because the body of my Son is broken. You lay people, mourn and weep because the body of my Son is broken." One after another, almost all the 40,000 people fell to their knees. This huge crowd in Kansas City was crying out as one in repentance. And above the stadium a huge sign proclaimed: "Jesus is Lord."
I was looking at all this as an outsider but I couldn't help being moved. I said to myself: "This is a prophecy for the future of the church. One day the church shall be reunited in one single visible body. This is how it will happen; through all of us repenting, praying and weeping together, under the I,ordship of Christ." But can you imagine, I was still very critical and said to myself: "This is very beautiful. No doubt this comes from the Lord, but I cannot accept it." I was unprepared to understand the expressions of other Christian denominations, especially Pentecostals.

Choose Jesus as Lord of your life. One of the hymns sung on this occasion said: "Lift high the banner of love; Jericho must fall." It's the story of Jericho falling before the sound of the trumpets. When the crowd sang the refrain, "Jericho must fall," my fellow Italians (there were five of us) nudged me and said: "Listen carefully, because Jericho is you."

And Jericho did fall. It was a spectacular fall that began in Kansas City, Missouri, and ended in Convent Station, New Jersey. There was a prayer meeting to be held in New Jersey and someone invited me to attend. A priest said: "Stay with us this week." I remember thinking to myself: "This, after all, is not a house of perdition or prostitution. It is a house of prayer, and staying there won't do me any harm." I decided: "Lord, I will stay. I will give you another chance to speak to me."

After this decision everything went smoothly, even though I resisted with all my strength. You must realize that I did my best. There was a moment during the prayer meeting when we were in the chapel praying, and I remember saying to myself: "I am a son of St. Francis of Assisi. I have a beautiful spirituality. What am I looking for among these lay brothers?" At that moment a lady opened her Bible and started reading. It was the passage where John the Baptist said to the Pharisees: "Don't say in your hearts, We are sons of Abraham, we are sons of Abraham."'

I assure you, this is the way the Holy Spirit builds when he is present in a gathering. He speaks in a simple but very, very strong way. So I stood up (speaking Italian because I did not know any English then) and everybody seemed to understand my Italian. I said: "Lord, I don't want to say any longer that I am a son of St. Francis of Assisi. I ask you to make me a true son of St. Francis of Assisi. Baptize me with your Holy Spirit." Then they prayed over me. I recall somebody saying: "Choose Jesus as Lord of your life."

The Cross of Christ: Why am I mentioning my experience? Because if we are to receive the Holy Spirit in this new, dramatic way scripture says that we must be baptized. But if we have already been baptized, there is need of a new baptism or a renewal of our baptism. For me, baptism in the Spirit was precisely this-a chance the Lord gave me to ratify and renew my baptism.

For most of us, baptism is a bound sacrament. That means that while we have received baptism in the church, the church gave it in the hope that at some point in our adult life we would confirm our "I believe" in a personal, free act of faith. Until there is this act of faith in the life of a Christian, baptism remains a bound sacrament. Baptism allows us to receive Holy Communion but it also reveals why there are so many inactive Christians, passive and lacking any power. Jesus promised power to his believers, power enough to cast out demons and convict the world. Why, then, are we so powerless?

Coming back to my experience, my perception was that I was simply renewing my baptism, choosing Jesus as my Lord, and renewing my ordination-my religious profession. There was a moment when somebody said: "Choose Jesus as your Lord." At that very instant I lifted up my eyes and saw the crucifix. It was as if Jesus was waiting to tell me a very important thing. "Careful, Raniero." Of course there was no audible speaking by Jesus. Nothing visible-only a deeper communication.

This is the way God communicates something without verbal expression, without visible images. He speaks directly to the heart. He was speaking to my heart. "Be careful. This Jesus you are choosing as your Lord is not an easy Jesus. Not a rosewater Jesus. This is the crucified Jesus." This was when all my doubts fell away. If I was still wondering if the charismatic renewal was something superficial and emotional-just a lifting of our arms to impress each other, I was convinced at that moment that this renewal goes straight to the heart of the gospel, which is the cross of Jesus Christ!

A Love for the Word of God Nothing spectacular happened during this moment of my baptism in the Spirit. Nothing. But there was prophecy. Somebody said: "You will experience a new joy in proclaiming my word." At that time I was more a professor than a preacher. For a while, this remained for me a kind of question mark. Now, after seventeen or eighteen years, I can tell you that this prophecy has come true. I have experienced a new joy in proclaiming the word of God.

On the plane from Newark to Washington I had one of my first experiences as I found that in just praying my breviary the scriptures came alive. The psalms were not just words I knew by heart; no, they came alive. I was astonished. I read: "One generation proclaims to the other the greatness of the Lord." And a whole world opened in front of me. I remembered what is written in the New Testament: "Then at that moment Jesus opened their minds so that they were able to understand the scriptures."

This is what the Holy Spirit does. One of the first actions of the Holy Spirit is to open our minds to understand scripture, to see how true it is and that it is the word of God-the passionate word of a father to his children, for use in very personal situations. The love of scripture which results from receiving the Holy Spirit is unbelievable. I know people who cannot separate themselves from the Bible.

For example, I know a young widow who, after she lost her husband, was lost in fear. The first months were terrible. Then she discovered the Bible, so much so that sometimes when she went to bed she placed the Bible on became a woman filled with an understanding of scripture which sometimes enriches and instructs me.

When I came to Washington, I realized that I had a new desire for prayer. Something was attracting me to the chapel, and prayer opened to me the world of the Trinity. The Father spoke to me about the Son; the Son spoke to me about the Father; the Father and the Son about the Holy Spirit. I discovered the law of love which is the law of the Trinity.

Do you know what the law of love is? The law of love consists of not speaking of oneself, but speaking always of the other person. This is why the Father reveals the Son. The Son doesn't speak very much about himself; he speaks about the Father. When the Holy Spirit comes, what does he say? He doesn't start revealing his name; he doesn't proclaim ruah, ruah (r~cah is the Hebrew name for the Holy Spirit). When the Spirit comes, he says: "Abbe, Abba." This is the law. Imagine if this law of love were to be applied in a family. Imagine a father speaking to his children always of the good of their mother, and the mother always telling them of the goodness of their father. Oh, this would change many, many things.

Leave Everything and Come.
A few months after my return to Italy, something happened which visibly and practically changed my life. One day as I was praying in my cell in the friary, I prayed for the first time in a manner vaguely like speaking in tongues; not exactly the same, but somewhat similar. For a moment there was a very deep-down communication-nothing verbal or visible-but I sensed that Jesus was passing in front of me. It was the same Jesus who came back from the Jordan after his baptism in the Spirit and he was saying to me: "If you want to help me in proclaiming the kingdom of God, leave everything and come. 'I understood that he meant that I was to leave my teaching position. At that time I was head of a department at a huge university. I felt an instant of panic. This university had established this chair especially for me. But I understood that Jesus was inviting me-a man who has many things to do and is always in a hurry. I was afraid that I would not be ready to answer "yes." At the end of this hour of prayer, however, by the grace of God, I found in my heart a full 'yes, Lord, I can." The Lord called me to leave my professorship and become an itinerant preacher of the gospel. Because I am a religious man with a vow of obedience, I went to my superior general and told him: "Father, I think the Lord is asking me to do something completely different." He said (as any good bishop or pastor would), "Let us wait one year more." So I went on teaching for one year. At the end of this time I went to my superior general in Rome. We both prayed and then he said: 'yes, it is the will of God. They will say that you and |I are both mad, but in ten years maybe they will change their opinion."

On the very day when the superior general gave me permiission to start a new life, the breviary contained this beautiful passage from the prophet Haggai, in which God sends Haggai to encourage the people. The people stopped rebuilding their own houses and started rebuild-ing the temple of God. God was pleased and sent prophets to encourage them. Haggai said: "Now take courage you Joshua, son of Jehozadak; take courage Zerubbabel: take courage, you people of the land and work, because I am with you, says the Lord" (Haggai 2:3-5).

Do you know what the law of love is? The law of love consists of not speaking of oneself, but speaking always of the other person. This is why the Father reveals the Son. The Son doesn't speak very much about himself he speaks about the Father.

After reading this in the breviary, I went to St. Peter's Square to ask St. Peter for a new gift of faith for my new ministry. It was a rainy October day, and St. Peter's Square was completely empty. Something compelled me to look at the window of the Pope-you know, where the window of the Pope is in the Square. It was as if the word of God were crying through me: "Take courage, John Paul II; take courage, you cardinals and bishops of the Catholic Church; and work, because I am with you, says the Lord." So far so good. Except that three months later I was appointed preacher to the Pope!

"Take courage, John Paul II; take courage, you cardinals and bishops of the Catholic Church; and work, because I am with you, says the Lord." So far so good. Except that three months later I was appointed preacher to the Pope!
Take Courage. I am with You. Preacher to the Pope! Maybe it would be worth while to say a little about what this means. Many Catholics don't know that every Friday during Lent and Advent the Holy Father takes time to listen to a sermon, a meditation given by a priest of the Catholic Church, which, for the last sixteen years, has been me. He never misses a sermon. Once when he was traveling around Central America, he missed two Fridays. When he returned he came straight to me, apologizing for having missed two sermons. It's really he who gives the sermons to me through his humility, his example.

The first time I was in front of this very unusual audience I couldn't help telling what had happened to me in St. Peter's Square, just below the Pope's window. So again I quoted Haggai the prophet-not just as a quotation but as a living prophecy. I heard him say to this audience: "Take courage, John Paul II; take courage, you cardinals and bishops, you people of the land, and work, because I am with you, says the Lord." And I could see in the eyes of my listeners the word of God becoming an active reality at that very moment.

Very often when the Lord sends me around the world to proclaim the word of God, I repeat this prophecy of Haggai. Now I have the pleasure, the joy, of proclaiming it for you: 'Take courage, you bishops of this country; take courage, you priests; take courage, you lay people, and walk, because I am with you, says the Lord."




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