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Baptism in the Holy Spirit

"The phrase ‘Baptism in the Spirit’ comes from Jesus himself. On referring to the approaching Pentecost, before ascending to heaven he said to his apostles: ‘John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5). That ritual has nothing exoteric; rather, it consists of extremely simple, calm and joyful gestures, along with feelings of humility, repentance and willingness to become like children.

It is a renewal with fresh awareness not only of Baptism and Confirmation, but also of the entire Christian life, of the sacrament of marriage for married people, of their ordination for priests, of their religious profession for consecrated people. The candidate prepares for the baptism in the Spirit not only with a good confession, but also participating in instruction meetings, where they can come into living and joyful contact with the main truths and realities of faith: God’s love, sin, salvation, the new life and transformation in Christ, charisms, the fruits of the Spirit. The most frequent important fruit is the discovery of what it means to have a ‘personal relationship’ with Jesus risen and alive. In the Catholic understanding, the Baptism in the Spirit is not the end of a journey, but a starting point to mature as Christians and as committed members of the Church."


If someone doesn’t like the expression “baptism of the Spirit”, let him or her leave it aside and instead of the “baptism of the Spirit” ask for the “Spirit of the baptism”, that is a renewal of the gift received in the baptism.

The secret is to say ‘Come, Holy Spirit’, but to say it with your whole heart, knowing that such invitation will not remain unheard. To say it with an “expectant faith”, leaving the Spirit free to come in the way and with the manifestations he  decides, not in the way we think he should come and manifest himself. 

The ‘baptism in the Spirit’ has turned out to be a simple and powerful means to renew the life of millions of believers in almost all Christian Churches. Countless people, who were Christians only by name, thanks to that experience have become real Christians, engaged in prayer of praise and in the sacraments, active evangelizers, willing to take on pastoral tasks in their parishes. A true conversion from being lukewarm to being fervent!

First Sermon, Lent 2021

P. Raniero Cantalamessa OFMCap.

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