THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
FR. CANTALAMESSA ON BAPTISM IN THE SPIRIT
Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the papal household,
speaks about baptism in the Holy Spirit, which is an essential
aspect of our evangelizing work through the CLS/LCS. Baptism
in the Spirit is essential to the New Evangelization. Unfortunately,
outside of charismatic renewal, the so-called baptism in the
Spirit, with its manifestations of spiritual gifts such as
tongues, is largely unknown, or not appreciated, or even rejected.
But the methodology of the Holy Spirit for the work of worldwide
evangelization is what happened at Pentecost. The empowerment
of the Spirit for us to be witnesses is for the sake of evangelization
to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
We are on the right track. We can look to really massive evangelization
as we continue with our spirituality founded on the baptism
in the Spirit.
Oh, and if you read to the end of Fr. Cantalamessa’s
article, you will see his final scripture quote, and that
is our theme verse for this year. Onward to the New Evangelization!
Cantalamessa Explains Why 'Baptism in the Spirit' Is a Gift
for the Whole Church
What This Baptism Is and How It Relates to the Sacraments
May 09, 2014 (Zenit.org) - The preacher of the Pontifical
Household, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, was a keynote
speaker at a conference last week in Norfolk, Virginia.
conference was titled "Awakening the Domestic Church,"
and Father Cantalamessa gave three addresses there. This one
is called "The Baptism in the Spirit, A Grace for the
Before speaking about the baptism, or outpouring, in the Spirit,
I think it is important to understand what the renewal in
the Spirit is, where this experience happens and of which
it constitutes the source and the high point. Then we will
better understand that the outpouring is not an event in and
of itself but rather the beginning of a journey whose aim
is the profound renewal of life in the whole Church.
in the Spirit
expression “renewal in the Spirit” has two biblical
equivalents in the New Testament. To understand the
soul of the charismatic movement, its profound
inspiration, we must primarily search the Scripture. We need
to discover the exact meaning of this phrase that is used
to describe the experience of the renewal.
first text is in Ephesians 4:23-24: “Be renewed
in the spirit of your minds and . . . clothe yourselves with
the new self.” Here the word “spirit”
is written with a small “s,” and rightly so, because
it indicates “our” spirit, the most intimate part
of us (the spirit of our minds), which Scripture generally
calls "the heart.” The word “spirit”
here indicates that part of ourselves that needs to be renewed
in order for us to resemble Christ, the New Man par excellence.
“Renewing ourselves” means striving to have the
same attitude that Christ Jesus had (see Philippians 2:5),
striving for a “new heart.”
text clarifies the meaning and the aim of our experience:
The renewal should be, above all, an interior one, one of
the heart. After the Second Vatican Council, many things were
renewed in the church: liturgy, pastoral care, the Code
of Canon Law and religious constitutions and attire.
Despite their importance, these things are only the antecedents
of true renewal. It would be tragic to stop at these things
and to think that the whole task has been completed.
matters to God is people, not structures. It is souls that
make the church beautiful, and therefore she must adorn herself
with souls. God is concerned about the hearts of His people,
the love of His people, and everything else is meant to function
as a support to that priority.
first text is not enough, however, to explain the phrase “renewal
in the Spirit.” It highlights our obligation to renew
ourselves (“be renewed!”) as well as what must
be renewed (the heart), but it doesn’t tell us the “how”
of renewal. What good is it to tell us we “must”
renew ourselves if we are not also told how to renew ourselves?
We need to know the true author and protagonist of the renewal.
second biblical text, from Titus, addresses that precise issue.
It says that God “saved us, not because of any works
of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy,
through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit”
“Spirit” has a capital “S” because
it points to the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit. The preposition
“by” points to the instrument, the agent. The
name we give to our experience signifies, then, something
very exact: renewal by the work of the Holy Spirit, a renewal
in which God, not man, is the principal author, the protagonist.
“I [not you]” says God, “am making all things
new” (Revelation 21:5); “My Spirit [and only He]
can renew the face of the earth” (see Psalm 104:30).
may seem like a small thing, a simple distinction, but it
actually involves a real Copernican revolutiona complete
reversal that people, institutions, communities and the whole
church in its human dimension must undergo in order to experience
a genuine spiritual renewal.
often think according to the “Ptolemaic system”:
Its foundation consists in efforts, organization, efficiency,
reforms and good will. The “earth” is at the center
of this scheme, and God comes with His grace to empower and
crown our efforts. The “Sun” revolves around the
earth and is its vassal; God is the satellite of man.
the Word of God declares, “We need to give the power
back to God” (see Psalm 68:35) because the “power
belongs to God” (Psalm 62:11). That is a trumpet
call! For too long we have usurped God’s power, managing
it as though it were ours, acting as though it were up to
us to “govern” the power of God. Instead, we need
to revolve around the “Sun.” That’s the
Copernican revolution I’m talking about.
that kind of revolution, we recognize, simply, that without
the Holy Spirit we can do nothing. We cannot even say, “Jesus
is Lord!” (see 1 Corinthians 12:3). We recognize that
even our most concerted effort is simply the effect of salvation,
rather than its cause. Now we can begin to really “lift
up our eyes” and to “look up,” as the prophet
exhorts (see Isaiah 60:4), and to say, “I lift up
my eyes to the hillsfrom where will my help come? My
help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth”
The Bible often repeats the command of God, “You
shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy!”
(Leviticus 19:1; see Leviticus 11:44; 1 Peter 1:15-16). But
in one place in that very same book of Leviticus, we find
a statement that explains all the others: “I am
the Lord; I sanctify you!” (Leviticus 20:8). I
am the Lord who wants to renew you with My Spirit! Let yourselves
be renewed by My Spirit!
An “Unreleased” Sacrament
let’s move on to the theme of the baptism of the Spirit.
First of all it must be said that this expression is not a
recent invention of pentecostals and charismatics. It comes
directly from Jesus. Before leaving his disciples he said
to them: “John baptized in water but, not many days
from now, you are going to be baptized with the Holy Spirit”
(Ac 1:5). We know what happened not many days from that moment:
Pentecost! The expression baptism in the Spirit therefore
on one hand refers to the event of Pentecost and on the other
hand to baptism. We could speak of it in terms of “a
new Pentecost” for the church (and I
often do so) or in terms of a
renewal of our baptism. This time I want to
explore this second dimension of it.
term “baptism in the Spirit” indicates that there
is something here that is basic to baptism. We say that the
outpouring of the Spirit actualizes and revives our baptism.
To understand how a sacrament
received so many years ago and administered in infancy can
suddenly come alive and be revived and release such energy
as we see on the occasions of outpouring,
we must recall some aspects of sacramental theology.
theology can help us understand how a sacrament can be valid
and legal but "unreleased." A sacrament is called
“unreleased” if its fruit remains bound, or unused,
because of the absence of certain conditions that further
its efficacy. One extreme example would be the sacrament of
marriage or of holy orders received while a person is in the
state of mortal sin. In those cases, such sacraments cannot
confer any grace on a person. If, however, the obstacle of
sin is removed by repentance, the sacrament is said to revive
(reviviscit) due to the faithfulness and irrevocability
of the gift of God. God remains faithful even when we are
unfaithful, because He cannot deny Himself (see 2 Timothy
are other cases in which a sacrament, while not being completely
ineffective, is nevertheless not entirely released: It is
not free to works its effects. In the case of baptism, what
is it that causes the fruit of this sacrament to be held back?
we need to recall the classical doctrine about sacraments.
Sacraments are not magic rites that act mechanically, without
people’s knowledge or collaboration. Their efficacy
is the result of a synergy, or collaboration, between divine
omnipotence (that is, the grace of Christ and of the Holy
Spirit) and free will. As Saint Augustine said, “He
who created you without your consent will not save you without
put it more precisely, the fruit of the sacrament depends
wholly on divine grace; however, this divine grace does not
act without the “yes”the consent and affirmationof
the person. This consent is more of a “conditio
sine qua non” than a cause in its own right. God
acts like the bridegroom, who does not impose his love by
force but awaits the free consent of his bride.
Role and Our Role in Baptism
that depends on divine grace and the will of Christ in a sacrament
is called “opus operatum,” which can
be translated as “the work already accomplished,
the objective and certain fruit of a sacrament when it is
administered validly.” On the other hand, everything
that depends on the liberty and disposition of the person
is called “opus operantis”; this is the
work yet to be accomplished by the individual, his or her
opus operatum of baptism, the part done by God and
grace, is diverse and very rich: remission of sins; the gift
of the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity (given
in seed form); and divine sonship. All of this is mediated
through the efficacious action of the Holy Spirit. In the
words of Clement of Alexandria:
Once baptized, we are enlightened; enlightened, we are adopted
as sons; adopted, we are made perfect; made perfect, we receive
immortality . . . . The operation of baptism has several names:
grace, enlightenment, perfection, bath. It can be called a
“bath” because through it we are purified of our
sins; “grace” because the punishments deserved
for our sins are removed; “enlightenment” because
through it we can contemplate the beautiful and holy light
of salvation, and see into divine reality; “perfection”
because nothing is lacking.
is truly a rich collection of gifts that we received at the
moment of our birth in God. But it is a collection that is
still sealed up. We are rich because we possess these gifts
(and therefore we can accomplish all the actions necessary
for Christian life), but we don’t know what we possess.
Paraphrasing a verse from John, we can say that we have been
sons of God until now, but what we shall become has yet to
be revealed (see 1 John 3:2). This is why we can say that,
for the majority of Christians,
baptism is a sacrament that is still “unreleased.”
much for the opus operatum. What does the opus
operantis consist of in baptism?
It consists of faith!
“The one who believes and is baptized shall be saved”
(Mark 16:16). With regard to baptism, then, there is the element
of a person’s faith. “But to all who received
him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children
of God” (John 1:12).
can also recall the beautiful text from the Acts of the Apostles
that tells about the baptism of Queen Candace’s court
official. When their journey brought Philip and the official
near some water, the official said, “‘Look,
here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?’
Philip said, ‘It is permitted if you believe with all
your heart’ ” (Acts 8: 36-37). (Verse 37
here, an addition from the early Christian community, testifies
to the common conviction of the church at that time.)
is like a divine seal stamped on the faith of man: “When
you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation,
and had believed in him, [you] were marked with the
seal [this refers to baptism] of the promised Holy
Spirit” (Ephesians1:13). Saint Basil wrote, “Truly,
faith and baptism, these two modes of salvation, are bound
indivisibly to one another, because if faith receives its
perfection from baptism, baptism is founded on faith.”
This same saint called baptism “the seal of faith.”
individual’s part, faith, does not have the same importance
and independence as God’s action because God plays a
part even in someone’s act of faith: Even faith works
by the grace that stirred it up. Nevertheless, the act of
faith includes, as an essential element, the responsethe
individual’s “I believe!”and in that
sense we call it opus operantis, the work of the
person being baptized.
we can understand why baptism
was such a powerful and grace-filled event in the early days
of the church and why
there was not normally any need for a new outpouring of the
Spirit like the one we are experiencing today. Baptism was
administered to adults who were converting from paganism and
who, after suitable instruction, were in a position to make
an act of faith, an existential, free and mature choice about
their lives. (We can read about baptism in
the Mystagogical Catecheses, attributed to Cyril of Jerusalem,
to understand the depth of faith of those who were prepared
came to baptism by way of a true and genuine conversion.
For them baptism was really a font of personal renewal in
addition to a rebirth in the Holy Spirit (see Titus 3:5).
Saint Basil, responding to someone who had asked him to write
a treatise on baptism, said that it could not be explained
without first explaining what it means to be a disciple of
Jesus, because the Lord commands,
therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded
you. --MATTHEW 28:19-20
order for baptism to operate in all its power, anyone who
desires it must also be a disciple or have a serious intention
of becoming one. According to Saint Basil:
disciple is, as the Lord Himself taught us, anyone who draws
near to the Lord to follow Him, that is, to hear His Words,
to believe and obey Him as one would a master or a king or
a doctor or a teacher of truth. . . . Now, whoever believes
in the Lord and presents himself ready to be disciple must
first set aside every sin
and everything that distracts from the obedience which is
owed to the Lord for many reasons.
favorable circumstance that allowed baptism to operate in
such power at the beginning of the church was this: The action
of God and the action of man came together simultaneously,
with perfect synchronism. It happened when the two poles,
one positive and one negative, touched, making light burst
this synchronism is usually not operative. As the church adopted
infant baptism, little by little the sacrament began to lack
the act of faith that was free and personal.
The faith was supplied, or uttered, by an intermediate party
(parents and godparents) on behalf of the child. In the past,
when the environment around the baby was Christian and full
of faith, the child’s faith could develop, even if it
was slowly. But today our situation has become even worse
than that of the Middle Ages.
environments in which many children now grow up do not help
faith to blossom. The same must often be said of the family,
and more so of the child’s school and even more so of
our society and culture. This does not mean that in our situation
today normal Christian life cannot exist or that there is
no holiness or no charisms that accompany holiness. Rather,
it means that instead of being the norm, it has become more
and more of an exception.
today’s situation, rarely, or never, do baptized people
reach the point of proclaiming “in the Holy Spirit”
that “Jesus is Lord!” And because they have not
reached that point, everything in their Christian lives remains
unfocused and immature. Miracles no longer
happen. What happened with the people of Nazareth is being
repeated: “Jesus was not able to do many miracles there
because of their unbelief” (see Matthew 13:58).
Meaning of the Outpouring of the Spirit
outpouring of the Spirit, then, is a response by God to the
dysfunction in which Christian life now finds itself. In these
last few years we know that the church, the bishops, have
also begun to be concerned that Christian sacraments, especially
baptism, are being administered to people who will make no
use of them in their lives. Thus, they have considered the
possibility of not administering baptism when the minimum
guarantees that this gift of grace would be valued and cultivated
cannot, in fact, “throw our pearls before swine,”
as Jesus said, and baptism is a pearl because it is a fruit
of the blood of Christ. But we can say that God is concerned,
even more than the church is, about this dysfunction. He
has raised up movements here and there in the church that
are proceeding in the direction of renewing Christian initiation
renewal in the Spirit is one of those movements, and its principal
grace, without doubt, is tied to the outpouring of the Spirit
and what precedes it. Its efficacy at revivifying baptism
consists in this: Finally a
person is doing his or her part, making a decision of faith
that is prepared through repentance. This allows the work
of God to “be released” in all its power.
is as though God’s outstretched hand has finally grasped
the hand of the individual, and through that handclasp, He
transmits all His creative power, which is the Holy Spirit.
To use an image from physics, the plug has been inserted into
the outlet, and the light has been turned on. The gift of
God is finally “unbound,” and the Spirit permeates
Christian life like a perfume.
the adult who has been a Christian for many years, this faith
decision necessarily has the characteristic of a conversion.
We could describe this outpouring of the Spirit, insofar as
the person is concerned, either as a renewal of baptism or
as a second conversion.
can understand something else about this outpouring if we
also see its connection with confirmation, at least in the
current practice of separating it from the sacrament of baptism
and administering it later. In addition to being a renewal
of the grace of baptism, the outpouring is also a “confirmation”
of baptism itself, a conscious “yes” to it, its
fruit and its commitments. As such it parallels (at least
in its subjective aspect) the effects of confirmation on the
objective, sacramental level.
is understood as a sacrament that develops, confirms and fulfills
the work of baptism. The outpouring is a subjective and spontaneousnot
sacramentalconfirmation in which the Spirit acts not
from the power of the sacramental institution but through
the power of His free initiative and the openness of the person.
meaning of confirmation sheds light on the special sense of
greater involvement in the apostolic
and missionary dimension of the church that usually characterizes
someone who has received the outpouring of the Spirit. That
person feels impelled to help build up the church, to serve
the church in various ministries, clerical or lay, and to
give testimony to Christ. All of these things
recall Pentecost and actualize the sacrament of confirmation.
“The One Who Baptizes in the Holy Spirit”
outpouring of the Holy Spirit is not the only occasion in
the church for this renewal of the sacraments of initiation
and, in particular, of the coming of the Holy Spirit at baptism.
Other occasions include the renewal of baptismal vows during
Easter vigils; spiritual exercises; the profession of vows,
called “a second baptism”; and, on the sacramental
is not difficult, then, to find the presence of a “spontaneous
outpouring” in the lives of the saints, especially on
the occasion of their conversion. For example, we can read
about Saint Francis at his conversion:
the feast they left the house and started off singing through
the streets. Francis’ companions were leading the way;
and he, holding his wand of office, followed them at a little
distance. Instead of singing, he was listening very attentively.
All of a sudden the Lord touched his heart, filling it with
such surpassing sweetness that he could neither speak nor
move. He could only feel and hear this overwhelming sweetness
which detached him so completely from all other physical sensations
that, as he said later, had he been cut to pieces on the spot
he could not have moved.
his companions looked around, they saw him in the distance
and turned back. To their amazement they saw that he was transformed
into another man, and they asked him, “What were you
thinking of? Why didn’t you follow us? Were you thinking
of getting married?”
answered in a clear voice: “You are right: I was thinking
of wooing the noblest, richest, and most beautiful bride ever
seen.” His friends laughed at him saying he was a fool
and did not know what he was saying; in reality he had spoken
by a divine inspiration.
I said the outpouring of the Spirit is not the only time of
renewal of baptismal grace, it holds a very special place
because it is open to all of God’s people, big and small,
and not just to certain privileged people who do the Ignatian
spiritual exercises or take religious vows. Where does that
extraordinary power that we have experienced in an outpouring
come from? We are not, in fact, speaking about a theory but
about something that we ourselves have experienced. We can
also say, with Saint John, “What we have heard, and
what we have seen with our own eyes and touched with our own
hands, we declare to you because you are in communion with
us” (see 1 John 1:1-3). The
explanation for this power lies in God’s will: It has
pleased Him to renew the church of our day by this means,
and that is all there is to it!
are certainly some biblical precedents for this outpouring,
like the one narrated in Acts 8:14-17. Peter and John, knowing
that the Samaritans had heard the Word of God, came to them,
prayed for them and laid hands on them to receive the Holy
Spirit. But the text that we need to begin with to understand
something about this baptism in the Spirit is primarily John
John [the Baptist] testified, "I saw the Spirit
descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.
I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize
with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend
and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’”
does it mean that Jesus is "the one who baptizes in the
Holy Spirit"? The phrase serves not only to distinguish
the baptism of Jesus from that of John, who baptized only
“with water,” but to distinguish the whole person
and work of Christ from His precursor’s. In other words,
in all His works, Jesus is the one who baptizes in the Holy
baptize” has a metaphoric significance here: It means
“to flood, to bathe completely and to submerge,”
just as water does with bodies. Jesus “baptizes in the
Holy Spirit” in the sense that he “gives the Spirit
without measure” (see John 3:34), that He has “poured
out” His Spirit (see Acts 2:33) on all of redeemed humanity.
The phrase refers to the event
of Pentecost more than to the sacrament of baptism,
as one can deduce from the passage in Acts: “John
baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy
Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:5).
expression “to baptize in the Holy Spirit” defines,
then, the essential work of Christ, which already in the messianic
prophecies of the Old Testament appeared oriented to regenerating
humanity by means of a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit
(see Joel 2:28-29). Applying all this to the life and history
of the church, we must conclude that the resurrected Jesus
baptized in the Holy Spirit not only in the sacrament of baptism
but in different ways and at different times as well: in the
Eucharist, in the hearing of the Word of God, in all other
“means of grace.”
baptism in the Spirit is one of the ways that the resurrected
Jesus continues his essential work of “baptizing in
the Spirit.” For this reason, even though we can explain
this grace in reference to baptism and Christian initiation,
we need to avoid becoming rigid about his point of view. It
is not only baptism that revives the grace of initiation,
but also confirmation, first communion, the ordination of
priests and bishops, religious vows, marriageall the
graces and charisms. This is truly the grace of a new Pentecost.
It is, like the rest of Christian life, a new and sovereign
initiative, in a certain sense, of the grace of God, which
is founded on but not exhausted in baptism. It is linked not
just to “initiation” but also to the “perfection”
of Christian life.
in this way can we explain the presence of the baptism in
the Spirit among Pentecostal brothers and sisters. The concept
of initiation is foreign to them, and they do not invest the
same importance in water baptism as do Catholics and other
Christians. In its very origin the baptism in the Spirit has
an ecumenical value, which is necessary to preserve at all
costs. It is a promise and an instrument of unity among Christians,
helping us to avoid an excessive “catholicizing”
of this shared experience.
Love, Prayer and Laying on of Hands
the outpouring there is a hidden, mysterious dimension that
is different for each person because only God knows us intimately.
He acts in a way that respects the uniqueness of our personalities.
At the same time, there is also a visible dimension, in the
community, that is the same for all and that constitutes a
kind of sign, analogous to the signs in the sacraments. The
visible, or community, dimension consists primarily in three
things: brotherly love, prayer and the laying on of hands.
These are not sacramental signs, but they are indeed biblical
laying on of hands can signify two things: invocation or consecration.
We see, for example, both types of laying on of hands at Mass.
There is the laying on of hands as invocation (at least in
the Roman rite) at the moment of epiclesis, when the priest
prays, “May the Holy Spirit sanctify these gifts so
that they may become for us the body and blood of Our Lord
Jesus Christ.” Then there is the laying on of hands
when the concelebrants pray over the offerings at the moment
the rite of confirmation, as it now occurs, there are also
two occasions for the laying on of hands. The first has the
character of invocation. The other, which accompanies the
anointing with the oil of chrism on the forehead, by which
the sacrament becomes actualized, has the character of consecration.
the outpouring of the Spirit, the laying on of hands has only
the character of invocation (similar to what we find in Genesis
48:14; Leviticus 9:22; Mark 10:13-16; Matthew 19:13-15). It
also has a highly symbolic significance: It recalls the image
of the Holy Spirit's overshadowing (see Luke 1:35); it also
recalls the Holy Spirit as He “swept over” the
face of the waters (see Genesis 1:2). In the original the
word that is translated “swept over” means "to
cover with one’s wings,” or “to brood, like
a hen with her chicks.”
clarifies the symbolism of the laying on of hands in baptism:
“The flesh is covered over by the laying on of hands
so that the soul can be enlightened by the Spirit.”
This action is a paradox, like many things in God: The laying
on of hands enlightens by covering, like the cloud that followed
the chosen people in Exodus and like the one that surrounded
the disciples on Mount Tabor (see Exodus 14:19-20; Matthew
other two elements are brotherly love and prayer, or "brotherly
love that expresses itself in prayer." Brotherly love
is the sign and vehicle of the Holy Spirit. He, who is Love,
finds a natural environment in brotherly love, His sign par
excellence. (We can also say this love is like a sacramental
sign, even if it is in a different sense: “a signifying
cause.”) We cannot insist enough on the importance of
an atmosphere of brotherly love surrounding those who are
going to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
is also closely connected with the outpouring of the Spirit
in the New Testament. Concerning Jesus’ baptism, Luke
writes, “While he was in prayer, the heavens opened
and the Holy Spirit descended upon him” (see Luke 3:21).
It was Jesus’ prayer, we could say, that made the heavens
open and the Holy Spirit descend upon Him.
outpouring at Pentecost happened this way too: While they
were all continuing in prayer, there came the sound of a violent
wind, and tongues of fire appeared (see Acts 1:14-21). Jesus
Himself said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give
you another Advocate” (John 14:16). On every occasion
the outpouring of the Spirit is connected to prayer.
signs--the laying on of hands, brotherly love and prayer--all
point to simplicity; they are simple instruments. Precisely
because of this, they bear the mark of God’s action.
Tertullian writes of baptism:
There is nothing which leaves the minds of men so amazed as
the simplicity of the divine actions which they see performed
and the magnificence of the effects that follow. . . . Simplicity
and power are the prerogatives of God.
is the opposite of what the world does. In the world the bigger
the objectives are, the more complicated are the means. When
people wanted to get to the moon, the necessary apparatus
If simplicity is the mark of divine action, we need to preserve
it in our prayer for the outpouring of the Spirit. Simplicity
should shine forth in prayers, in gestures, in everything.
There should be nothing theatrical, no excited movements or
excessive words, etc.
Bible records the glaring contrast between the actions of
the priests of Baal and the prayer of Elijah during the sacrifice
on Mount Carmel. The former cried out, limped around the altar
and cut themselves until they bled. Elijah simply prayed,
“O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, . . . answer
me, so that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God,
and that you have turned their hearts back!” (1
Kings 18:36-37). The fire of the Lord fell on the sacrifice
prepared by Elijah but not on the one prepared by the priests
of Baal (see 1 Kings 18:25-38). Elijah later experienced that
God was not in the great wind, or in the earthquake, or in
the fire but in the still, small voice (see 1 Kings 19:11-12).
where does the grace of the outpouring come? From the people
present? No! From the person who receives? Again, no! It comes
from God. It makes no sense to ask if the Holy Spirit comes
from inside or from outside of the person: God is inside and
outside. We can only say that such grace has a connection
to baptism because God always acts with consistency and faithfulness;
He does not contradict Himself. He honors the commitment and
the institutions of Christ. One thing is certain: It is not
the brothers and sisters who confer the Holy Spirit. Rather,
they invite the Holy Spirit to come upon a person. No one
can give the Spirit, not even the pope or a bishop, because
no one possesses the Holy Spirit. Only Jesus can actually
give the Holy Spirit. People do not possess the Holy spirit,
but, rather, are possessed by Him.
we talk about the mode of this grace, we can speak of it as
a new coming of the Holy Spirit, as
a new sending of the Spirit by the Father through Jesus Christ
or as a new anointing corresponding to a new level of grace.
In this sense the outpouring, although not a sacrament, is
nevertheless an event, a spiritual event.
This definition corresponds most closely to the reality of
the thing. It is an event, something that happens and that
leaves a sign, creating something new in a life. It is a spiritual
event, rather than an outwardly visible, historical one, because
it happens in a person’s spirit, in the interior part
of a person, where others may not recognize what is happening.
Finally, it is spiritual because it is the work of the Holy
is a wonderful text from the apostle Paul that speaks specifically
of the renewing of the gift of God. Let’s hear it as
an invitation addressed to each of us:
remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you
through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us
a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of
love and of self-discipline.--2 TIMOTHY 1:6-7