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Testimony on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

by Angie Lake

The term The Baptism of the Holy Spirit triggers all kinds of questions because the first thing that comes to a Catholic’s mind is, “Didn’t I get the Holy Spirit when I was baptized?”  The answer is, “of course.”  When you were baptized, you were baptized, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  Every good Catholic knows that!

What we have come to understand is this.  Though, we have received the Holy Spirit at baptism and received Jesus in the Eucharistic meal at Holy Communion as well as the Confirmation of our faith, a lot of us didn’t understand what it all meant or what it means for us today!

I’d like to share a little of my own personal story and you may find some common ground or something that resonates within your own heart as a Catholic wanting more of God in your life.  I was baptized as a baby and I can recall receiving my first Holy Communion with a lot of fanfare as a child. (I still have my First Holy Communion dress!)

I remember being confirmed in my faith at the age of 12, but I had no spiritual understanding.  All I remember was that I got a new dress and a new name!  Even though it was an important memorable event in my life as a Catholic I sadly had no understanding of what God was doing for me.  As a child, I had a child’s faith to believe that God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to die on a cross for us and that when He rose from the dead and went back to Heaven, He made a way for all of us to “go to Heaven” when we died.  Two of the things I thought my Catholic faith taught me was that if I wasn’t good or I didn’t do enough “good things/works” I wouldn’t make it to Heaven! One thing was very clear to me from the time I was a little girl.  I knew for sure that I was a sinner and didn’t deserve God’s wonderful love and so that meant if I wanted to go to Heaven, I had to do a lot of good things; things like help people, be kind to them, bake cakes for the Church Bazaars, make food for people when they were home ill, visit them in the hospital, pray the rosary, pray, pray, pray and pray a lot!  This is not necessarily a bad way to understand how we work out our faith, yet it is a child’s understanding and when we are adults we need to understand our faith as adults, with spiritual maturity.  The understanding I had seemed like a lot of work to me and I was certainly willing – yet in the back of my mind the certainty of not really being worthy no matter what I did, was still in my heart.  I guess I never really accepted that I was personally loved by God.  Oh, I knew He loved the whole world – but I thought I had to be worthy to deserve His love.

Life went on and there were many ups and downs in my life.  Even though for a while I became a CEO (Christmas and Easter Only) Catholic, I loved God and continued my faith even though I was thin in my religious practice of my faith in my years after High School.  In 1978 after having suffered with a very painful disease for 5 years that the doctors considered incurable, God healed me through the laying on of hands.  This healing/cure brought me to a point in my faith where I really hungered for God and wanted to know this wonderful God who healed me so miraculously!  I began attending a bible study, took the Basic Catechist Course and wanted more of God.  After reading a book about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and the gift of praying in tongues and all the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the life of believers, I knew I wanted all of God that I could get! I received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and my life has never been the same again, it has been changed for the good because I have come to know the power and presence of God in my life!  This Baptism of the Holy Spirit is simply a yielding of our lives to God and when we do say “Yes” to God and make an invitation to God to ask Him to release the Holy Spirit in us, He does.  If we then become docile to the Holy Spirit, we will be changed!  We will be transformed because we will be walking not in our own power, but in the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Many are fascinated with the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit and if you are like me – you will want them all!  I came to discover that when I was willing to humble myself and receive the least of the gifts, i.e. praying in tongues, it was as if a door opened to release every gift as needed.  In Romans 8:26 we are told by St. Paul that “The Spirit too comes to help us in our weakness.  For when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, the Spirit himself expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words, and God who knows everything in our hearts knows perfectly well what he means, and that the pleas of the saints expressed by the Spirit are according to the mind of God.” (JB)

I’ve listed some scripture references for you to help you know about the promises and the prophecies of the Holy Spirit.  If you wish to know more – look up the scriptures and let God speak to you.  My very favorite scripture about the Holy Spirit is Luke 11:9-13 because we are told that everyone who asks for the Holy Spirit will receive the Holy Spirit! The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is right in the center and heart and beginning of the Catholic Church. 

The Holy Spirit was first poured out on believers at Pentecost.  In our day there has been a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the Catholic Church.  The Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church celebrated 40 years in February 2007; and is considered a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our time.  Though I don’t know fully what God’s plans are for His Church, I do know they must be good (Jeremiah 29:11).  One thing that is important to remember is that in the Bible the time element of 40 is very significant.  What that means for us now in the Charismatic Renewal, I do not know.  Yet I do know that we should not refuse any gifts that God wants to give to each one of us!  I believe that God wants His children to be open to receive every good gift He sends.  

I invite you to say, “Yes!” “Come Holy Spirit, Come!” I encourage you to be open to the outpouring of the God’s Holy Spirit in your life.

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