Recently I’ve been thinking I should write about the baptism in the Spirit as something that has been important in my life and the life of many, many Christians. Two things have come together that prompt me to do it now, especially since it doesn’t involve too much thinking. The first was finding a copy of a talk I was asked to give during a Life in the Spirit seminar some years back. The second was an online audio that I chanced upon by Fr. John Randall, an old time charismatic, telling what the baptism in the Spirit has meant in his life.


In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, the Lord says: “My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.” And Paul says, “I will, therefore, all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities, for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

You see before you someone leaning heavily on the Lord’s sufficient grace.

I have always hated being the center of attention. I wouldn’t exactly say I volunteered for this talk. Rather, I was sort of pushed into it. Someone said, “Dorothy, why don’t you give the talk on Receiving God’s Gifts? Good. That’s settled.” I never said “yes,” or “OK,” or any of those positive things. I just didn’t say “no,” because I knew God wanted me to do it. I don’t know how God can make you know something without ever saying anything, but he can.

They say the fear of public speaking is the most common phobia. Anyway, it’s one I’ve had as far back as I can remember. In grade school I dreaded book reports because the teacher sometimes made us give them orally. Spelling bees were OK. I could spell and I didn’t mind getting up and spelling one perfect word. But I had to be perfect. Perhaps I feared that if I had to say more than one word people might find out I was not perfect. I would stumble and stutter and my mind would go blank in front of people.

Now, if that wasn’t bad enough, at the age of 33 I developed agoraphobia and I still had it when I first started going to prayer meetings nine years ago. Agoraphobia has gotten a lot of publicity recently — they now have centers to treat it and support groups — but back then it was called anxiety or panic attacks. I had them in stores, in buses, in cars, in theaters, in church, at meetings, at work. I saw psychiatrists and took medication. I was still taking medication when I attended my first prayer meeting.

I won’t go into detail about those years. Suffice to say when  all you can manage is to sit still in the back row at a prayer meeting (you’ll always find your agoraphobics in the back, on an aisle seat, near an exit) one is not about to get up and say anything! God, through the prayers of a number of people, over the years, has very graciously healed my agoraphobia, after over twenty years of suffering from it. Believe me, when I can’t think of anything else to praise him for, this will do for starters. Fear can be just as crippling as any physical illness. Thank you, Lord.

I have never been able to express myself well orally. I listen to people who have that gift with amazement. How do they do it? They just open their mouths and speak in sentences and paragraphs and the whole thing hangs together and makes sense. I can write, but even writing doesn’t just flow. It comes in bits and pieces and I have to put it all together like a jigsaw puzzle.

As I mentioned, I’m supposed to talk to you about God’s gifts.   If I’ve prefaced this talk by giving you some insight into my past (and present) dis-ease and some of the healing that I’ve had, it is because I want to impress upon you most of all that God is in the business of healing.  God is our Father.  He loves us with a Father’s love, better than any earthly father could.  God is good.  He is the personification of goodness.  God is love.  He can’t do anything that is not loving.  God wants to bless us.  He wants to shower good things upon us.  He wants us to have abundant life – Abbondonza!  as Father Joe Moore used to say.  God doesn’t want us all tied up in knots and bound and hung up and wounded and hurting.  He wants to free us and heal us.

Jesus is savior.  Jesus is healer.  Jesus sends us the Spirit to empower us.  Jesus came to bring us salvation.  The word “salvation” comes from the same root as salve — a healing ointment.  God wants to gift us with healing, to pour balm into our wounds, to loosen us up and free us.  And he wants to anoint us to heal others.  As Mary Ellen quoted:  “The glory of God is man fully alive.”

We read about spiritual gifts in 1 Cor. 12.  All of God’s gifts are directed toward our salvation, our healing, our wholeness, our holiness,  and fullness of life.   These all mean the same thing.  But God does not force himself on us.  He is always there, ready to give us good things.  As in the famous picture, God stands at the door and knocks.  There is no knob on the outside of the door.  We have to open it from within.  We have to turn toward God and invite him to enter.   That’s what repentance means.  You can do it in an instant.  It’s simply a decision to turn to God, to decide to follow Jesus, to invite the Holy Spirit to lead you.

According to the guidelines for this talk we must “turn away from non-Christian religions, spiritualism, witchcraft, occultism, sex outside of marriage, adultery, homosexual acts, murder, robbery, shoplifting, cheating, lying, slander, drunkenness, and getting stoned.”    Serious sin will block the action of God in our lives but there is no sin so serious that with the grace of God we cannot turn away from it.   We do not have to come to God all cleaned up.  I like the way Father Carew put it:  “God loves us just the way we are, but he loves us too much to let us stay that way.”  For Catholics involved in serious sin the sacrament of reconciliation (confession) would be the way to show we really want to follow Jesus.

Next week we are going to pray for baptism in the Spirit for anyone who has decided to follow Jesus and wants more of his Spirit.  With God, there’s always more.  He’s inexhaustible.  Luke 11:9-13:  “If you then who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask  him?”

With the baptism in the Spirit comes the spiritual power we all need.  Again, from Luke 24:49:  “I am going to send you what my Father has promised, but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”  With those words, Jesus ascended into heaven.

And what happened at Pentecost?  As we read in Acts 2:2-4 there came a wind from heaven and tongues of fire and those who had been fearful before and had denied Jesus and weren’t anywhere about when he was crucified began to speak in other tongues and preach the word so effectively that 3000 were added to their numbers that day!  We need the Holy Spirit to be effective witnesses for God.  The more we allow him to do in us, the more we can witness to.  We cannot witness to what we have not seen or experienced.  We cannot talk farther than we have walked, and the more we allow God to gift us and heal us, the more we can help others.

Different people have different experiences when they are baptized in the Spirit.  Some may laugh or cry.  Some are quiet and don’t feel anything at first.  A common manifestation of receiving the Holy Spirit is the gift of tongues.  Some say you haven’t been baptized in the Spirit if you haven’t received tongues but I knew of many instances when tongues were received sometime after the baptism, and if God will wait days or even months, he could wait longer.  I remember a woman, a former member of this prayer group, telling how she was opening the refrigerator door to get a bottle of formula for the baby (some months after she was baptized in the Spirit) and she started praying in tongues for the first time.

Mother Angelica of the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) relates that a priest drove by her convent as she was working outside and wanted to pray with her for the baptism in the Spirit.  After he had done so, she thought, “Is that all there is to it?”  The next morning she started to pray upon awakening and found she she couldn’t pray in English.  Another Sister came to her door and since Mother Angelica couldn’t talk she just pointed to her mouth.  “You have laryngitis?” asked the sister.  And according to Mother Angelica in a short time all the Sisters in her convent had the same “disease.”   The story of how those cloistered nuns started a worldwide TV network is truly marvelous.  What can’t God  do with a yielded soul!

Last year I was handed a tract by a Pentecostal Protestant which said, “Did you know that Mary, the mother of Jesus, spoke in tongues?”  I had never heard that so I quickly looked it up.  Turn to Acts 1:14 and then go to Acts 2:4.  Mary, the mother of Jesus, was present when “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

Some of the spiritual gifts mentioned in 1 Cor. 12, like tongues and prophecy, are frequently manifested in prayer meetings.  In prophecy, someone will speak out as God, in the first person.  Sometimes prophecy is about the future.  More often, it is an encouraging or uplifting word from God. Sure, he’s saying the same things he has always said but in fresh ways.   (In fact, if it isn’t in accord with Scripture, it’s not from God.) What I like about prophecy is it immediacy.  It’s God speaking to us TODAY.  It’s God speaking to his people NOW, saying the same things he said 2000 years ago, but NOW, to US.   I have personally received very little in the way of prophecy and I wrote about it before.

There are gifts of healing (gifts – plural) such as emotional, physical and spiritual healing.   There is the working of miracles.  We are hearing that we should be seeing more and more miracles in  days to come.  There are gifts of discernment of spirits and of hearts (I know people with these gifts), gifts of wisdom and of knowledge.  God has many gifts he want to give his people.

Over the past weeks several speakers have mentioned how gentle God is when he works in us.   God always does the right and loving thing.  He knows exactly where we are and where we are coming from.  He knows our woundedness and how much we can handle, then he gives us the grace to handle it.  When I first joined the prayer group I volunteered for the book ministry because I wanted to do something behind the scenes that I would be comfortable with.  Then I nearly resigned when they asked me to recommend books at the meetings.  But it was a healing experience.   I would never have volunteered to  be a Eucharistic minister or to pray on a healing team, but when I was asked to do those things God saw me through it and now I am comfortable with them.  Maybe you don’t think it’s a big deal for me to stand here and read a few pages to you but I know where I came from and the fear that used to curl and coil inside of me like a living thing.  To me it proves God is a God who frees and heals.

The gifts of God, the charisms, are for the healing of the body of Christ.   We are part of the body of Christ.  They are for our healing and the healing of others.  As we open more to the Spirit and the spiritual gifts, we find our lives being filled with excitement, with power, with wonder, and with thankfulness.  Anyone who thinks being a Christian is dull hasn’t really tried it!



Father Randall is an old-timer in the Catholic charismatic renewal.  Now retired, 78 at the time of this talk, he tells how he was already a priest, baptized, confirmed and ordained, when David Wilkerson’s group ( of The Cross and the Switchblade fame) prayed with him for the baptism in the Spirit — and the difference it made.


Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.  And we all, with unveiled faces, behold the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another.  —  2 Cor. 3:17.