Questions and Responses
Doctrinal Commission – International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services
In the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, the spiritual preparation that leads to the prayer for an outpouring or baptism in the Holy Spirit is called “Life in the Spirit Seminars” or “Seven weeks Seminar”, referring as such to the seven weeks of prayer and expectancy Jesus’ apostles and women – among whom Mary, lived from the Ascension until Pentecost.
On the fifthtieth day, the Holy Spirit fell on them and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different languages as the Spirit gave them power to express themselves. (Ac 2, 4)
The baptism in the Holy Spirit opens to the fullness of the Spirit, charisma and practice of those charisma, all given to serve the Body of Christ and work out the mission to evangelize as true and faithful witnesses of the redeemed Christ.
At the end of the Second Vatican Council, the twenty-five students and teachers who took part on mid-February in a retreat at the Duquesne University in the USA, had prepared themselves by praying daily to the Holy Spirit as well as studying the four last chapters of the Acts of Apostles. At the end of this week-end, they experienced in a tremendous way a powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit as an answer to their deep prayer to God to deepen the grace of their baptism and their confirmation. There was the official birth of the CCR. Life in the Spirit Seminars lead all those who have been baptized but not evangelized to a personal encounter with Christ and to a new openness to the Holy Spirit. It is not only a matter of listening and receiving talks, but of living a deep conversion path, breaking with a sinner’s life, obtaining inner healing or liberation.
Obviously the baptism in the Holy Spirit, such as it is being experienced at the end of one of these Seminars, may be given by God in his all powerfulness without one having explicitly followed a Life in the Spirit Seminar, for example on the occasion of a renewing of vows of consecrated life or even on the occasion of the Sacrament of Confirmation if its preparation stressed on the same themes as the Seminars. “The coming of the Holy Spirit does not depend on us. God pours out his Spirit when he wills.”
The seven week Seminars develop the following themes:
- God our Father is Love and he loves personally
- Jesus is your Savior;
- Jesus is your Lord;
- Become a disciple of Jesus, healed by his forgiveness, freed from all links and evil possession;
- You will receive the Holy Spirit and you will be witnesses of the redeemed Christ.
- We have to discover anew the Father’s love, Jesus’ salvation and Lordship; to get ready to become Jesus disciple and witness in the Christian Community.
- It is only after this formation and conversion experience that comes the prayer for the baptism in the Holy Spirit. We cannot do all that in one single day.
Nevertheless, it is possible, and we have experienced it many times in our prayer groups, to do the whole formation in only two weeks. In this case, after a personal interview with each participant and an introduction to the Seminars (2 days), the talks could take place over ten days and be concluded with the prayer for an outpouring and a sending out to mission (3 days).
The 4th Seminar on the 6th day is vital because it speaks of forgiveness steps to take, inner healing and liberation.
A true retreat to get ready for the baptism in the Holy Spirit cannot happen in only one day. If this outpouring is not well prepared, often times we see outpourings which will not bear the expected fruit, fruit of holiness, of a change in life, nor shall it bring authentic charisma to serve the Body of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.