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What is “Baptism in the Spirit?”

Caitlin Bootsma - published on 02/01/13

Baptism in the Spirit is an experience of a renewal or actualization of the graces received in the Sacraments

“Baptism in the Spirit” is a term signifying an encounter with the Holy Spirit.  Technically, one could use the term to refer to the experience of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Communion, and Confirmation). However, the laymen's understanding of baptism in the Spirit is usually an experience by an already baptized person of a renewal or actualization of the graces received in these first three sacraments. It is important to note that baptism in the Spirit is not the same as the Sacrament of Baptism, nor is the experience itself a sacrament.

One of the long-time leaders of the Charismatic Renewal in the United States, Ralph Martin, writes that baptism in the Spirit is “an experience of the Spirit that is often accompanied by a deeper personal encounter with Christ, characterized by a glimpse of his Lordship, an experience of the Father’s love that is personal and deeply liberating, and a new awareness that we are truly not orphans but that the Holy Spirit is truly present and ready to encourage, convict, guide, and help us understand the things of God” (Ralph Martin, A New Pentecost – Catholic Theology and Baptism in the Spirit).
The effects of being “baptized in the Spirit” are an increase in, or a revitalization of the gifts of the Holy Spirit as outlined in the Catechism: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord (Catechism, 1831). However, the gifts experienced after being baptized in the Spirit could also be the charismatic gifts as described in Scriptures, such as healing, prophecy, discernment of spirits, tongues and interpretation of tongues (ref. 1 Corinthians 12). It is through baptism in the Spirit, therefore, that we are prepared for the work with which every Christian is charged: to know Christ better, and to make him better known. 

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