Baptism in the Spirit

Friends are often surprised to find I am actively involved in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. “Surely that’s about emotions, and you are an unemotional person?”

Many testimonies of those now involved in charismatic renewal will tell of how that person invited God’s Holy Spirit into their life, and they received an overwhelming sense of God’s loving presence, after which they lost their inhibitions about raising their hands and expressing themselves freely during public prayer. Some call this experience of release a “baptism in the Holy Spirit“, though the same terminology might also be applied to the moment a person gets the Gift of Tongues for the first time, or to the act of laying on hands and praying for a person in the hope that such an experience will follow.

As an Aspie, I was already free of those “What will other people think?” inhibitions. I was always quite comfortable singing loudly and lifting my hands during prayer. I received the Gift of Tongues on a day when I handed over a personal obsession* to the Lord – but I did not receive, and to this day have never experienced, the overwhelming sense of God’s loving presence which so many charismatics speak about.

It seems to me quite fitting and proper that we make a joyful noise to the Lord (as Scripture tells us to) and we use the kind of music that may stir in many people strong positive emotions. Doesn’t God deserve that? Pope Francis does not want us to leave church with a vinegar face!

* For some months, the only topic of my prayers had been pleading with God to call back to faith a certain friend who was going through severe doubts about God’s existence. I had recently fallen in love with this friend, and although the discovery she already had a boyfriend was painful, her loss of faith was even more devastating. But one night I reached the point of saying to God “This is too much for me – my whole prayer life cannot be about pleading for her faith to be restored – I am just going to place her in your hands, Lord.” That’s when my burden was lifted, and I prayed in tongues for the first time.

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