Robert Canton Ministries: Article - Colloquim on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

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by Bob Canton, ICCRS Council Member for English Speaking North America, Central America and Carribean Countries.

"As 44 years have passed since God sovereignly began pouring out his Spirit in a new way, beginning with the Duquesne weekend in 1967, it is a good time for us to come together for in-depth theological reflection on the grace of baptism in the Spirit," Dr. Mary Healy remarked during her introduction to the Draft Document which was used as a reference point during the Colloquium on the Baptism In The Holy Spirit that was held on March 17-20, 2011 in The Fraterna Domus in Sacrofano, a suburb of Rome. The Colloquium was attended by 150 Bishops, priests, theologians and lay leaders from 44 countries.

The attendance of this event was by invitation only and was sponsored by the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services(ICCRS) in collaboration with the Pontifical Council of the Laity.

Dr. Healy, the chairperson of the ICCRS ‘ Doctrinal Commission and a theology professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan, outlined the goals of the Colloquium namely, 1. a need to continually foster and deepen the reception of the baptism in the Spirit within the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, especially through good formation, 2. theological reflection is part of the ongoing process of growth in ecclesial maturity, 3. to spread the "culture of Pentecost" and the " spirituality of Pentecost" throughout the Church.

Msgr. Peter Hocken from Austria , who is a member of the Doctrinal Commission, had this to say during his introduction to the Draft Document, "Looking back to the 44 years of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, we can thank the Lord for the deepening understanding of this work of the Holy Spirit. It is my personal conviction that we are dealing with something big and decisive in God's purposes for the Church."

The ICCRS Doctrinal Commission has been working for the past two years writing this draft on the Baptism In the Holy Spirit in response to many requests from all over the world. Each Colloquium participant was furnished a copy of this draft.

In his talk on "the Meaning and the Fruits of Baptism In The Spirit," Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher of the Pontifical Household, asserted, "If then, baptism in the Spirit, on the lips of Jesus, firstly and most directly indicates Pentecost. The simplest and indeed obligatory way to understand what it means and what are its effects is to consider what happened at Pentecost and what did it bring about in the lives of the apostles and of the nascent Church, and what takes place today in those who have received the baptism in the Spirit and experienced a new Pentecost of their own. " He further stated, "One of its most striking fruits of the baptism in the Spirit is a new experience of God's love; for many this is by far the most astonishing and exhilarating thing about its reality. Those who took part in the retreat in which the Charismatic Renewal had its beginning in the Catholic Church told afterwards that there was a moment when they feared they would "not be able to bear the excessive love of God" they were experiencing. "It was" they said, "as though the God of Sinai had come into the room, utterly filling it and us as well." Pentecost is a moment when the heart of stone is shattered to bits and its place is taken by the heart of flesh, but this "heart-transplant" didn't take place under total anesthesia!" Towards the end of his presentation, the preacher to the Papal household asked the attendees, "What kind of knowledge of Christ do we see in those who have received the baptism in the Holy Spirit? The most significant fact is their rediscovery of that elementary teaching in the Bible, that Jesus Christ is Lord!"

Another Colloquium speaker was Ralph Martin, president of Renewal Ministries and director of graduate theology programs in evangelization at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan. Speaking on "Baptism in the Spirit and the Sacraments of Christian Initiation, Martin noted that one of the most insistent calls of the recent Popes has been a call for a "new Pentecost." He opined that this continuing papal calls for a New Pentecost seem to flow from two main perceptions; 1. the weakness of the Church and the "collapse of Christendom" or as Pope John Paul 11 put it, the end of Christian society as we once knew it, 2. that what is most needed is a renewal of a personal relationship with God himself, a relationship that "comes alive" in the reality of Pentecost, in both its contemplative and charismatic dimensions."

Speakers at the event noticed that different terminology is used among different groups in the Renewal. Those in the English-speaking Renewal who comprised almost 50% of the entire participants in the Colloquium, prefer the term "baptism in the Spirit," while most of those in the French and Italian-speaking world usually use the term "effusion" or "outpouring" of the Spirit. Other terms such as "release of the Holy Spirit," "the renewing with the Holy Spirit" are also used. All agreed, however, that these terms refer to the same reality: a release of the graces received in the Sacraments of initiation and a new outpouring of grace and power.

Other speakers included Michelle Moran, Arch. George Bacouni, Bishop Michel Santier, Fr. Fidel Onoro, Fr. Diego Jaramillo, and Fr. Denis Biju-Duval. Stanislaw Cardinal Rylko, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, celebrated Mass on the second day of the Colloquium.

"It is hoped to eventually publish two documents, the revised Colloquium text which will be valuable resource for Bishops and leaders and a slimmer publication which will be of help for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in general," ICCRS president Michelle Moran stated.

Printed with permission from Pentecost Today, Jul-Sept., 2011 issue.