Baptism of the Holy Spirit

     The sweetest lady in the world was just asking some important and profound questions about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  I have an opinion, although it is only an opinion and I have much to learn.  But so far, this is what I think:
     The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a specific gift, a particular grace of the infusion of the Holy Spirit in a person’s soul.  It is not the same as the gift of the Holy Spirit that is conferred in Baptism, Confirmation or other Sacraments.  The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is another, distinct grace in which the Holy Spirit comes to live in us in a special way and bestows gifts, specially chosen by the Father for the person.  Some receive the gift of healing, while others, prophesy, tongues, or counsel.  Many people receive more than one.  I was particularly touched by the testimony of a woman who was given the gift of joy–within hours of her Baptism in the Spirit of the Lord, she received a palpable sense of God’s joy, and she said that through all the trials she later went through (and there were many), she never for a moment lost this sense.  Sometimes it was a little trickle, and other times it was a torrential flow, but it was always present.
     When these gifts are given, it remains in a person’s heart forever, whether the person accesses and utilizes it or not.  The gifts of the Holy Spirit are not correlated to virtue or holiness: a person can be full of bad behaviors and have the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and another person can be very holy, full of virtue, and never have had the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
     The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is not necessary for salvation–a person can go to heaven without having had it.  So in that sense it is not like Baptism or the Eucharist, which Scripture speaks of as important for salvation (although God in His mercy may save many, many people who have not had these, according to Vatican II).  Baptism of the Holy Spirit is not necessary for Christian salvation, but it was, in the Early Church, one of the main pillars of the faith.  All Christians were prayed over by other Christians; they would lay their hands upon the new Christian, and pour out the Holy Spirit.  It is my humble belief that all Christians are meant for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and that it is one of the great impoverishments of our church today that so few have it.  Pope Benedict XVI said that all Catholics should have the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  It is not necessary, but it is what a Christian is supposed to be equipped with.  For, the Baptism of then Holy Spirit enlivens one to the beauty of the Mass, the lavish richness of Confession, the power of the Rosary, the importance of bringing the Gospel to all whom we meet, the tears of contrition and sorrow for our sins, and the crucial necessity of intimacy with the Lord in prayer, action and word.  It makes one on fire, sold out for the Kingdom.  When I read the stories of the saints, burned at the stake or tortured on the rack, I think, “There is no way to undergo this suffering without Baptism of the Holy Spirit!”  Of course there are other ways to grow intimate and refined–through suffering, and embracing one’s cross.  But to me, this process is jumpstarted and emboldened by the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Most writings of the saints only make sense to me through this lenses–the Spirit is how they are so extreme, so aglow, so brazen.  When you meet one who is especially radiant of the Spirit of Jesus, chances are, they have had the Baptism of the Spirit.  May we all enjoy the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and recapture the zeal of the Early Church.