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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Pentecoste Novella

See also Peter Kreeft's History of Charismatic Renewal here


Before the Duquesne outpouring of the Holy Spirit in 1967, before the New Evangelization asked for by Paul VI and John Paul II, and just before Vatican Council II:  St. John XXIII prayed for a "Pentecoste Novella".  It is a documented request, and not just a rumor.  The Pope did, in fact, refer to a "New Pentecost".  He may have been overly optimistic in his hopes for VCII.  Nevertheless, those were his exact words and they deserve attention in the light of what many, including Father Raniero Cantalamessa, call "The Baptism in the Holy Spirit". 

St. John Paul II appointed Fr. Cantalamessa Papal Preacher when he heard him joyfully preaching on the streets of Rome to any and everyone who would listen.  How wonderful that this formerly reserved and quiet Capuchin Priest had suddenly unleashed on the world all of his contemplative fruit and apostolic labor!  He received the "Baptism in the Holy Spirit" and defends it vigorously as a verifiable means of grace that God uses to supplement (but by no means replace or overshadow) the Sacraments of Initiation.  And particularly in terms of Pentecost, Fr. Cantalamessa says:

In addition to the renewal of the grace of baptism, the Baptism in the Spirit is also a confirmation of one's own baptism, a deliberate "yes" to it, to its fruit and its commitments, and as such it is also similar to Confirmation too. Confirmation being the sacrament that develops, confirms, and brings to completion the work of baptism. From it, too, comes that desire for greater involvement in the apostolic and missionary dimension of the Church that is usually noted in those who receive the Baptism in the Spirit. They are more inclined to cooperate with the building up of the Church, to put themselves at her service in various ministries both clerical and lay, to witness for Christ -to do all those things that recall the happening of 
Pentecost and which are actuated in the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Thus, there is an unmistakable link between the prayer uttered and documented for a 
"Pentecoste Novella", and the "Baptism in the Holy Spirit".  The link is the actual Person of the Holy Spirit manifesting Himself with Charismatic gifts in the lives of the Baptized!  And this is nothing modern or contrived, Saints have experienced the same "Baptism in the Holy Spirit", e.g. St. Patrick's Confessio:

More and more did the love of God, and my fear of him and faith increase, and my spirit was moved so that in a day [I said] from one up to a hundred prayers, and in the night a like number; besides I used to stay out in the forests and on the mountain and I would wake up before daylight to pray in the snow,in icy coldness, in rain, and I used to feel neither ill nor any slothfulness, because, as I now see, the Spirit was burning in me at that time." (Par. #16)

St. Simeon's 

"If one is not baptized in the Holy Spirit, one cannot become a son of God and co-heir of Christ." (Cat. XXXIII (112, 259))

St. Cyril of Alexandria's 
That Christ is One:

"How then does He Who has been baptized and Who received the open Descent of the Spirit, 
baptize with the Holy Ghost and perform what belong to and beseem the Divine Nature alone? for He is the Bestower of holiness. And in proof of this the Incarnate Word breathed, as a bodily act, His own proper good, upon the holy Apostles saying, Receive ye the Holy Ghost" (LFC 47 (1881) pp.237-319)

Yves Congar agrees with St. Cyril's reference above by clarifying:

The nouns 'baptism in the Spirit' are not used by New Testament authors, who instead used the verb '
baptize in the Spirit', always precisely in order to mark the difference between this and the baptism of John, because the verb drew attention to the One who was baptizing.  This was Jesus, inaugurating, especially from the time of his own anointing as the Messiah and the gift of Pentecost onwards the eschatological régime of the Spirit (191, Volume II of I Believe in the Holy Spirit)

And here are Congar's own words concerning an actual time of prayer and laying on of hands for a Life in the Spirit Seminar(196, Volume II of I Believe in the Holy Spirit):

There is usually a certain preparation and instruction together with prayer.  When the moment has arrived, several members of the group pray over the 'candidate' and lay their hands on his head or shoulders.  Although the brethren, the community are mediating, it is only God who is acting.  Sometimes nothing may seem to be happening to the 'candidate'.  At other times an experience of peace and joy and a deep feeling for prayer ensues in a few days.  At yet other times, he is invaded by the power of God, who seizes hold of his whole being--his heart, his mind and his feelings.  He is perhaps conscious of a gentle inner pressure which makes tears flow.  A desire to give thanks rises from his heart to his lips, and this may be expressed as praying in tongues.  The Spirit is making himself manifest.  His coming is powerfully experienced.

I first learned of the "Baptism in the Holy Spirit" from a Benedictine Monk, and have seen and heard many other Religious teach about it (Diocesan Priests, Bishops, Dominican Nuns, even Trapists!)  It is by no means a mere "experience" reserved for lay members of Charismatic Groups.  Fr. Cantalamessa continues:

It is also not difficult to discover in the lives of the saints, the presence of a spontaneous effusion, especially on the occasion of their conversion. The difference with the Baptism in the Spirit, however, is that it is open to all the people of God, small and great, and not only to those privileged ones who do the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises or make a religious profession.

Lastly, "Baptism in the Holy Spirit" is a phrase taken directly from the mouth of St. John the Baptist, "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire!".  It is not meant to be isolated in time or place but seen as integral to the life of every baptized Catholic.  Saints endured martyrdom in the power of the Spirit and not just on their own strength.  How else would St. Lawrence have said in the flames, "Turn me over, I'm done on this side"!   

Four Heresies to avoid in regard to life in the Spirit
1) Montanism--exemplified by Tertullian under the leadership of Montanus: overemphasized prophecy and asceticism to the point of suggesting two different churches (the church of the Bishops vs. the church of the Spirit)
2) Modernism--See my post on St. Pius X
3) Donatism--The belief that only priests in a state of grace can confer valid Sacraments
4) Pneumatomachism--The view of the Spirit as Object rather than as Person.  A utilitarian belief in the Spirit vs. a true Theology of the Holy Spirit

For more info on these Four see Yves Congar's 
I Believe in the Holy Spirit.  Crossroad Publishing Company: New York, 1979 & 1997.

See Also Cardinal L.J. Suenens: http://sites.jcu.edu/suenens/pages/cardinal-suenens/


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