Baptism and Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Most people, just like the Apostles, would say that they were not even aware that there was ‘more’ life before they experienced the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Word of Life CCRC desires to see every believer experience the same fullness of the Holy Spirit that the believers and Apostles experienced on Pentecost! If you are not aware that God has ‘more’ for you. HE DOES! The outpouring of the Holy Spirit transformed ineffective believers from the moment that they were filled with the Fire of the Holy Spirit. At the moment that the Holy Spirit rushed upon them like a wind, they were suddenly filled with a burning love and passion to share everything that they knew about Jesus and the gospel of good news. And signs and wonders, which occurred by the power of the Holy Spirit followed them from the moment that the Holy Spirit filed them.
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Blessed Pope Paul VI:
“We cannot but desire that these graces come – and may God grant it – with abundance. Besides grace, let God’s church be able to obtain and possess the charisms… God grant that the Lord would still increase this rain of charisms to make the church fruitful, beautiful, marvelous and capable of inspiring respect, even the attention and amazement of the profane world, the secular world.” (p. 35)
Pope St. John Paul II:
“… I would like to cry out to all of you gathered here in St. Peter’s Square and to all Christians: Open yourselves docilely to the gifts of the Spirit! Accept gratefully and obediently the charisms which the Spirit never ceases to bestow on us!” (Pentecost vigil in St. Peter’s square, 1998) (p. 35)
“The Holy Spirit, while bestowing diverse ministries in Church communion, enriches it still further with particular gifts or promptings of grace, called charisms…. Even in our own times there is no lack of a fruitful manifestation of various charisms among the faithful, women and men.” (Christifideles Laici) (p.35)
Pope Benedict XVI:
“Let us pray to God the Father, therefore, through our Lord Jesus Christ, in the grace of the Holy Spirit, so that the celebration of the Solemnity of Pentecost may be like an ardent flame and a blustering wind for Christian life and for the mission of the whole Church…. Upon all of you I invoke an outpouring of the gifts of the Spirit, so that in our time too, we may have the experience of a renewed Pentecost. Amen!” (p. 35)
“I expect you to share with everyone in the Church the grace of the baptism in the Holy Spirit (a phrase we find in the Acts of the Apostles).” (p. 36)
“A charism is much more than a personal quality, a predisposition that one can be endowed with: a charism is a grace, a gift bestowed by God the Father, through the action of the Holy Spirit. And it is a gift which is given to someone not because he is better than others or because he deserves: it is a gift that God gives him, because with his freely given love he can place him in service to the entire community, for the good of all.” (p. 36) “The authentic charisms, therefore, come to be considered as gifts of indispensable importance for the life and mission of the Church.” (Iuvenescit Ecclesia) (p. 37)
Testimonies of Baptism in the Holy Spirit:
Charmell Feaster, Warren, PA: After hands were laid on me for the baptism in the Holy Spirit, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit and Jesus. felt a hunger for God that I never experienced before. The Bible, the Mass, and the Sacraments all came alive, and I feel this overwhelming love for all people that I know it’s God’s love for them. It has helped me to become more Christlike.
Andy Gilmore, Luncinda, PA: After the Life In The Spirit Seminar, it showed him how alive the Holy Spirit is. The Holy Spirit took my faith from just going through the motions to an alive and living faith!
Jaci Phillips, Erie, PA: After the baptism in the Holy Spirit, I felt power from God to be able to teach and to preach to God’s people. I received the baptism 25 years ago, yet my hunger for God and His will only continue to increase. I have a burning desire to share the transforming power of living God with every person possible!
Virginia Baker, Sheffield, PA: The baptism in the Holy Spirit has transformed my heart of stone into a heart of flesh and of love. I have and such powerful hunger for God and an overwhelming desire to be in His will.
Pat Montefiori, Erie, PA: The Holy Spirit completely changed and transformed my faith and my heart. I physically felt ‘liquid love’ for God and for every human poured into me, and in over 20 years, that has never left me. I want everyone to know this is possible.
The Weekend That Changed My Life by Virginia Baker
In September, a team from the Diocesan Catholic Charismatic Renewal travelled to St. James Center in Sheffield, PA, to present a Life in the Spirit Seminar called “The Gift.” This seminar took place over a Friday evening and a Saturday (Please refer to the March Newsletter for more information on Pope Francis encouraging people to be Baptized in the Holy Spirit through “The Gift” Seminar and also April Blum’s testimony of her experience of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit). Friday evening was an introduction to the Holy Spirit. We listened to videos by world class speakers and then had discussions about the talks in small groups.
On Saturday, the talks focused on why the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is so important and how it changes people’s lives. Jaci, my small group leader, talked to us about being baptized in the Holy Spirit. As gentle as she was in describing ‘resting in the spirit’ and the ‘gift of speaking in tongues,’ the look on our faces must have been absolutely priceless because, after answering our many questions and giving her own testimony, she looked at us softly and said, "Don't be afraid. It's okay. Just trust God." I remember she had told us that she was “never the same” after the baptism in the Holy Spirit and that “God became real and personal” to her as soon as she was baptized in the Spirit. She reassured us that speaking in tongues and resting in the spirit were gifts from God and there was nothing to fear. Still - I was pretty sure that I did not want them, so I did everything I could to resist them and, as the group talked later, others had done the same thing. But you know, God does have a sense of humor. As Jaci gathered us into a circle for prayers for the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, I felt I DID NOT want to go first, but God had His own idea about this. I stood in front of her with my hands together and with my rosary wrapped around them, asking for the Blessed Mother to come and protect me. I was trying to keep an open mind, but at the same time I was honestly wary. Then Jaci very gently laid her hands on my head and I immediately felt this wonderful presence and power come upon me and my head started leaning more and more towards her. The next thing I knew, my body was on the floor and I was enveloped in a deep peace that I absolutely knew was from God. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I laid there for a long time and she continued to pray over me and spoke words over me that she could not have known. Later, she asked me to try to pray in tongues when she was praying for the other group members, but I did not believe in tongues, so I did not try to pray in tongues. I still prayed over them, though, as she prayed over them and words did come into my head from the Holy Spirit to speak to them. To our utter astonishment, all five of us were slain in the spirit despite all five of us being resistant to this when she explained it and thinking in our minds, “No. THAT is NOT going to happen.” There were tears. There was joy. There were words of wisdom and knowledge that were so specific to each person that it could have only been inspired by the Holy Spirit. And for some, there were tongues.
The next day was Sunday, which is when my husband David and I say our morning prayers. I told David, "I am going to take a shower first." I was in the bath tub when I felt this love come over me. Not an earthly love, but a love that could only come from God. I raised my hands and said to Jesus, "I am offering this love to you for everyone who feels depressed, alone and suicidal. Take it, take it," over and over again. As this presence came upon me and grew stronger, before I knew it, I was kneeling in the tub face down. I tried to get up, but the presence of the Holy Spirit was too heavy. My tongue was moving so fast and I began crying, then I began laughing at the same time. It was all from God. My husband heard this and he came upstairs, opened the shower curtain, and asked if I was alright. All I could do was hold my head up and say, "One moment." When the presence lifted, I was able to get up and stop crying, but could not stop laughing. I saw the concerned look on his face and I said, "I am alright. Really I am fine." I called Jaci later and told her what had happened. She said "You received the gift of tongues, the gift of tears and gift of laughter." I now believe in speaking in tongues because I do it all of the time and it is such a wonderful blessing to have a prayer language!
My story doesn’t end there. Actually, it has continued and continued, but I will end my testimony with this. That same week, as I was praying, I heard a voice say, "You are in the presence of God!" As I went down to the floor on my face prostrate and was asking God for forgiveness of my sins (which He gave me knowledge of), the Lord said, "Go to confession." And I did. When He made me aware of His holiness, my own sinfulness, and told me to go to confession, Jesus wanted me to communicate this message to everyone: "My mercy overshadows all your sins."
This was my amazing experience of being baptized in the Holy Spirit and how it changed my life, bringing me closer to Jesus. That is only the beginning of my new walk with the Lord. I could never have dreamt of how that weekend would change my life, or of how much more God had in store for me or how real His power and love truly are. May God bless you. Editor’s Note: Virginia is now the Leader of God’s Holy Love Prayer Group (See: Prayer Groups Section).
Receiving My ‘More!’ through the Baptism in the Spirit at Alpha by April Blum
Recently, I was invited by a friend to attend an Alpha program. Alpha is an opportunity to explore life and the Christian faith in a friendly, open and informal environment. It’s run in churches, bars, coffee shops and homes worldwide. Alpha is a safe place to explore life’s biggest questions. It is for everyone, no matter where they are at.
If God waited for us at the gates of heaven He’d be waiting for, well, eternity. Of course He, being God, knows that; so he meets us in our brokenness and carefully, like any master horticulturalist, prunes away the diseased parts of the vine so healthy new growth can emerge and bear good fruit and future seed to plant. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what Alpha is: the seed. It is the seed of a fruitful vine; cultivated through the Holy Spirit for the past 26 years over the entire world.
Let me tell you how the Holy Spirit guided me to this program, because, as always, God had a plan. To be honest, He was probably shouting the plan for months and I just wasn’t listening, but He’s patient. Through Alpha, I was brought into a group of people I either had never met or had not spoken with in six years. He brought us together because we had one thing in common; our group was looking for more…. more of God and the Holy Spirit… to be filled to overflowing! Our spirits were crying out, and let me tell you, He heard us. Our group of strangers and lost acquaintances quickly became a family. So much so I find I miss them when I don’t see them for a few days. Of course, God knew we were already family. We were created to be in communion with Him and with each other, like a family. Our group shared our struggles, we comforted each other, and we guided each other into a powerful renewal of our faith that we could not have imagined or foreseen.
During our Saturday retreat, we were either baptized in the Holy Spirit or had a refilling. My experience was so profound that I would not be doing what Christ has called me to do if I didn’t share it with you.
The day was filled with emotion, coming to terms with our brokenness, addressing our sinful nature, and realizing God’s grace through it all. Our group gathered in a corner of a gym and we began to pray. My team leader asked if I was ready to have a refilling of the Spirit and I said, “YES.” Yes to God, yes to the Holy Spirit filling me to overflowing, yes to His love, yes to His grace…yes to His mercy! Before I knew it, I was speaking in tongues and I was no longer in control; God was. With tears streaming down my eyes, I was weeping deeper than I ever had. I was being inwardly touched and healed. I have never before experienced what I can only describe as standing under a rushing waterfall of God’s warm love.
God’s loved filled me so fully that I felt it in my very existence. I was being filled and the Holy Spirit was gushing out of me. It was overwhelming and before I knew it I found myself resting on the ground and being bathed in the warmth of God’s love, full of tears and childlike laughter. IT WAS AMAZING!!!!! Just sharing this with you brings tears to my eyes again! His love became more real and palpable than I have words to describe. God gave me, and all of us, the ‘more’ we sought from Him at the beginning of Alpha.
However, that was not all the Holy Spirit had in store for me. He was like the salesman you see on TV who shouts, “But wait…there’s MORE!” As we prayed over each other, I found a warmth that flowed from my hands as I placed them on my friends and the love language continued to flow from my mouth. I saw vivid images of the people we prayed for and God’s words came into my head for those people. . All the while, a deep and true peace remained in me.
Prior to this experience, I had prayed for God to guide me to where I needed to be, and He did. My small group is now part of my family and I have been guided by the Holy Spirit to lead the next Alpha for St. Joseph’s Church/Bread of Life Community. I pray that you will consider joining us and share in our journey.
Come if you seek ‘more.’