The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

What does it mean to  be baptized by the Holy Spirit?  In charismatic circles, it is usually characterized by manifestations such as receiving the gift of tongues.  It’s usually described as an extremely joyful, powerful experience.

Today as I was reading Oswald Chambers, I looked ahead to tomorrow’s reading and found this:

Have I ever come to the point in my life where I can say, “I indeed . . . but He . . .”? Until that moment comes, I will never know what the baptism of the Holy Spirit means. I indeed am at the end, and I cannot do anything more— but He begins right there— He does the things that no one else can ever do. Am I prepared for His coming? Jesus cannot come and do His work in me as long as there is anything blocking the way, whether it is something good or bad. When He comes to me, am I prepared for Him to drag every wrong thing I have ever done into the light? That is exactly where He comes. Wherever I know I am unclean is where He will put His feet and stand, and wherever I think I am clean is where He will remove His feet and walk away.

Repentance does not cause a sense of sin— it causes a sense of inexpressible unworthiness. When I repent, I realize that I am absolutely helpless, and I know that through and through I am not worthy even to carry His sandals. Have I repented like that, or do I have a lingering thought of possibly trying to defend my actions? The reason God cannot come into my life is that I am not at the point of complete repentance.

“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” John is not speaking here of the baptism of the Holy Spirit as an experience, but as a work performed by Jesus Christ. “He will baptize you . . . .” The only experience that those who are baptized with the Holy Spirit are ever conscious of is the experience of sensing their absolute unworthiness.

I indeed” was this in the past, “but He” came and something miraculous happened. Get to the end of yourself where you can do nothing, but where He does everything.

This is much closer to my experience.  And the Christians I most want to model myself after have a humility about them because they have sensed their absolute unworthiness, they have come to the end of themselves, and lo! and behold!  that’s when the Holy Spirit can have His way with us.

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On being a Traditional Catholic

A most interesting post over at Rorate-Caeli about qualifiers in front of the description Catholic.

Here’s an excerpt concerning Tradition that I find most helpful:

In a broad sense, the entirety of revelation—including Scripture—is part of Tradition. Scripture, too, has been delivered to the Church and handed down by her to us.
This transmission is integral, complete, undistorted, and essentially unchanging, as Saint Vincent of Lerins sees it, and Blessed John Henry Newman shows with rigorous reasoning how the legitimate developments that have occurred historically affected not the body of the truth but, as it were, its clothing, or put differently, not the truth of the word but the fullness of its verbal expression. While the crisis of modernism can be understood in many ways, it seems to me that the crux of the matter is an adoption of an Hegelian (although one might just as easily say Darwinian or Marxist) understanding of development of doctrine: what we believenow and how we practice and pray are different from what they used to be, simply because our age is different—our experiences, feelings, mentality, science, are different. The traditional Catholic decisively rejects this Hegelian deception and affirms the Vincentian/Newmanian unity of revelation as handed down over time, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit leading the Church into the fullness of truth.
Once one grants that there is an integral truth handed down over the centuries and developed organically, then it must be possible for deviation and corruption to set in because of the sins of Christians, and particularly wayward shepherds. Heresy is always possible; misunderstanding, distortion, overemphasis, underemphasis, secularization, all of these things can happen, and when they happen, they begin to undermine “the faith once delivered to the saints” in the souls of individuals who are not strong in the knowledge and practice of the faith—including members of the Church hierarchy. This, of course, was seen most famously in England at the time of the Reformation, when all the bishops except St. John Fisher went along with King Henry VIII’s machinations. We see it today in the clear split between the bishops who accept and teach authentic Catholic doctrine on marriage and family and those who do not, or (to take a random example) between bishops who know and clearly state that the Catholic Church is the one true Church of Christ to which all Protestants are called by God to return, and those who counsel people to remain in their objectively heretical or schismatic positions either temporarily or permanently.
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House churches in the early Church not so informal

Most interesting post by Msgr. Charles Pope that looks at worship in house churches in the first centuries of the Church.  Not as informal as those trying to recover New Testament style worship would have us believe.

As you may know, the Catholic Faith was illegal in the Roman Empire prior to 313 AD, when the Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan permitting the Christian Faith to flourish publicly. Prior to that time, Church buildings as we know them today were rare—Mass was usually celebrated in houses.

Now be careful here; these “houses” were usually rather sizable, with a central courtyard or large room that permitted something a little more formal than Mass “around the dining room table.”  I remember being taught (incorrectly) that these early Masses were informal, emphasized a relaxed, communal quality, and were celebrated facing the people. Well, it turns out that really isn’t true. People didn’t just sit around a table or sit in circle—not at all. They sat or stood formally, and everyone faced in one direction: east.

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Mike Potemra at National Review comments on Fr. Gravel

A non-Catholic Christian takes a look at the death of Father Raymond Gravel, may he rest in peace.

Conservative Catholics in the United States frequently bemoan what they perceive as the excessive liberalism of their Church in this country. I have been consoling them for years with the assurance that they have it easy, compared with their coreligionists in our neighbor to the north, and especially in the province of Quebec. La Belle Province, as recently as 60 years ago, was a stronghold of conservative Catholicism, in which the Catholic Church wielded a great deal of clout in political affairs — but, as tends to happen in places where religion has too much power in the secular sphere, a reaction set in that was ferociously anticlerical. In Quebec, the Church responded by veering left.


Consider this news-service story, headlined “Canadians pack Quebec cathedral for funeral of Father Raymond Gravel.” It begins: “St. Charles Borromeo Cathedral was packed as Bishop Gilles Lussier and several priests concelebrated the funeral of Father Raymond Gravel, an outspoken social activist and advocate for Quebec independence.” And it goes on to describe how the late Father Gravel, who had been an elected member of Canada’s Parliament for two years, was loaded with honors in death as he had been in life. Internet homages flowed; politicians and journalists praised him; the mayor of Montreal ordered the city’s flag to be flown at half-staff. (He had been a chaplain to firefighters; even before his death the firefighters had named a building in his honor.)


While he declared his personal opposition to abortion, Father Gravel was an outspoken advocate of abortion rights, and publicly excoriated Quebec’s (and Canada’s) primate, Marc Cardinal Ouellet, for defending the Catholic Church’s position on abortion. In anop-ed in the newspaper Le Trait d’Union, Gravel pointed out that 94 percent ofQuebecers disagreed with the cardinal. This latter fact illustrates what I was saying above about the religious and cultural changes in Quebec over the past half-century. It also makes me bristle at the comment of a Radio Canada journalist quoted in the wire-service story: “Raymond said out loud the things that many Quebecers thought but didn’t dare express.” Yes, saying out loud what 94 percent of one’s fellow citizens believe really makes one a profile in courage.


Cardinal Ouellet took the courageous position in defense of Church teaching and he was excoriated not only by Fr Gravel but by the mainstream media.  He was even called an ayatollah and one columnist wished him a slow and painful death.  Thankfully, a major shift in the episcopacy in Quebec has been underway since 2010 when His Eminence was named Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.  


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Open Communion; Closed Communion

When I first came to the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (ACCC) parish here in Ottawa, we had open communion, in that if you believed in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and your conscience was not convicting you of any grave sin, you were welcome to receive.

Given my spiritual formation at the time about 15 years ago, I doubt I would have stuck around if I were not allowed to receive communion.  I also had the “field hospital” idea popularized by Pope Francis that if I were to lead a life victorious over sin I needed the spiritual food of the Precious Body and Blood.  It puzzled me the idea that in order to receive Holy Communion in a Catholic Church one already had to be in a state of grace without the benefit of the Bread of Life.

And in order to become Catholic, you couldn’t even avail yourself of a sacramental Confession until your reception was imminent.  I at least had the graces of baptism and an Orthodox Chrismation, but what about poor catechumens who don’t even have that?   What grace is required to come to the point of full assent to Catholic teachings without the sacraments!  Thankfully, God does pour out grace liberally without the benefit of sacraments to poor and contrite hearts!  How much more responsibility we have as Catholics since we have all the benefits of the sacraments and the Magisterium to help us to lead holy lives. 

Of course, now that I am Catholic, I go by the Church’s rules.  And our Ordinariate parish welcomes only Catholics in good standing to receive Holy Communion–and that point is made at every Mass visitors are present.  

Thus, I am glad we have begun a monthly Choral Evensong at Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary followed by wine and cheese that allows us to invite people to visit us without the awkwardness of having to say you must stay put in the pew once Communion begins.  It gives us an opportunity to worship with non-Catholics and to share some of our glorious Anglican patrimony.  (BTW, we tried serving sherry, but it was not as popular as white or red wine).  

Fr. Tim Finegan has an interesting article about the problems of routine reception of Holy Communion.

For someone who believes in the grace of the sacrament, it is a great trial to be unable to receive Holy Communion. Unfortunately, receiving Holy Communion now seems to have become a prize to be fought over. The current discussion over the pastoral care of the divorced and remarried focuses on their being permitted to receive Holy Communion, as a means of recognising, tolerating or approving their state of life. In another example earlier this year, Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth quite properly explained that politicians who vote in favour of abortion or same-sex marriage, thus demonstrating a lack of communion with the Church, should not receive Holy Communion.

Conor Burns MP publicly described this as a lack of welcome, something hurtful to him. Bishop Egan was hung out to dry with indecent haste when Greg Pope, head of parliamentary relations for the Bishops’ Conference, wrote to MPs saying that there were no plans to deny Holy Communion to those who voted in favour of same-sex marriage. One is left wondering how long it will be before the European Court of Human Rights issues an edict safeguarding the right of pro-abortion MPs to march up to the altar rail, and whether Bishop Egan will be left alone contra mundum in opposing it.

Why Focus on Just One Group?

What seems to be forgotten is that there are actually many people whose state of life is such that they may not receive Holy Communion, not only the divorced and remarried.



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More news from Tony Palmer’s funeral

Steve Long, a Catch the Fire pastor, attended Bishop Tony Palmer’s funeral in Bath earlier this month and has this report on his Facebook page:

Wonderful celebration of Tony Palmer’s life yesterday in Bath, UK. Bruno Ierullo and I were invited to sit with the bishops and arch-bishops. Most of them knew us or had been to the revival meetings. Fr. David, the priest who led the meeting is a wonderful Holy Spirit pastor who has also visited our Toronto church.

The Bath Vineyard led a glorious time of worship, Tony’s son and daughter each gave a speech as did his sister. The highlite for me was Tony’s wife Emi reading a message from Pope Francis.

Couple interesting things. Fr. David told the crowd that Pope Francis has been calling Emi every day to pray with her. Also the Pope gave permission for Fr David to serve other faith leaders communion, however the local bishop refused. So he blessed us instead!

That is very kind and attentive of the Pope to call the widowed Emiliana Palmer every day to pray with her.  However, did he say all faith leaders could receive communion?

Okay, my canon law inclined readers, can the Pope give a dispensation to non-Catholics to receive communion without their being Catholics?    


Emi will be releasing the Pope’s message at a later time. Heading home now!

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On the Assumption—Fr Ray Blake

She already enjoys the fullness of what we hope for at the ‘consummation of the ages’. Our hope is what we say in our funeral rites, ‘In my flesh I shall see God’, ‘I shall behold him face to face’. Mary uniquely enjoys the fullness of Grace, for she is the ‘highest honour of our race’. She reflects as a perfect mirror without any blemish the Grace of God, she reflects and also contains Grace, nothing comes between her and God.

She is the purest, the most perfect, of creatures. Everything else that is created is marred by sin, everything whether it is a stone or bird, a human being or a distant star, every thought, every emotion, is touched by sin but not Mary, she is free of all contamination. On earth, even as the Immaculate, she is frustrated by evil beyond her as God’s plan is frustrated by sinfulness. Though sinless, she is limited by the sins of others, like Jesus she inhabits the domain of the Lord of this World and is consequently limited by human culture, by the limits of human knowledge and yes, by the daily assaults of the Devil, the ancient dragon that stalks her, that causes her flee into he desert. In Heaven she is limitless, in heaven she truly experiences ‘the fullness of Grace’, she shares in God’s complete freedom and in His knowledge and understanding, she has become as scripture prophesies and as the angel are ‘like unto God’. Thus her motherhood, which on earth was limited, becomes the motherhood of all humanity, in perfect Communion with God she shares in His infinite love and infinite mercy, and infinite compassion. On earth she could intercede for those she knew, and certainly pray that God’s will in all things might be done. In heaven she extends her maternal care too all, with motherly intimacy she know us and cares for us.

If we are truly Christian we need to have a Chris-tlike devotion to His Blessed Mother.

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Fr Ray Blake on the Sign of Peace

For the record, we omit the Sign of Peace in our Ordinariate parish in Ottawa.  

Fr. Blake writes:

I am glad the Holy See has issued a new document on it and decided not to move too, to before the offertory, as in the Ambrosian Rite, after all the ‘sign of peace’ is intimately connected to Holy Communion. It is simple, if we are not in Communion with our neighbour, then we can’t possibly be in Communion with the Lord. It is I think the offering of ourselves at Holy Communion that is more important than our offering of cash at the offertory, it is then that we should be leaving our offering (of ourselves) at the altar in order that we might be reconciled to our neighbour. The procession to communion is about us coming to receive Christ in communion but it also about Him receiving us, bot individually but also collectively as the Church, pure and free from sin. The sign of peace should be a significant pre-Communion rite, therefore it should be solemn and holy, not lightly undertaken. One reason for it remaining where it is is the assertion by liturgical scholars that in ancient times the Pater Nosterended by a kiss of peace.

When I attended a Syriac Catholic service celebrated by Patriarch Joseph Younan a couple of weeks ago, I loved the way they marked the Sign of Peace.  At the altar, the prelates exchanged the peace with kisses of peace, or a nod towards a kiss.  In front of the altar stood four men in albs with sashes.  The peace was passed to them, and they carried the peace with their hands clasped in prayer-life fashion (kind of resembling a flame) and the men then proceeded to the first person in each aisle and tipped their clasped hands to that person, who with similarly clasped hands so their fingertips touched, as if passing the peace of Christ.  Then the person at the head of the aisle did the same thing to the person next to him or her, and so on, similar to the way we might light candles on Candlemass or the Easter Vigil.

Very beautiful and moving.  I would not mind our doing the Sign of Peace like that and when we had the rubrics explained of our Ordinariate Divine Worship we were told we were to use a similar way of doing it.

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Swedish Megachurch Pastor Ulf Eckman on journey to Catholic Church

A great article in The Catholic Herald.  Thought this excerpt was especially interesting (with my emphases):

We also encountered an interesting, and somewhat postmodern approach from some. They where ready to accept that God could call us to the Catholic Church, but they could not accept the doctrines of the Church. One preacher expressed it this way: “OK, you became a Catholic, but for sure you don’t believe what they believe, do you?” They spoke as if I really had a choice or could be selective in my choosing. When I answered that I do believe all that the Catholic Church believes and teaches, it seemed very odd to many of my Protestant friends. It was hard for them to understand that to be Catholic actually means to believe as a Catholic, even for me.

For us, truth was the very thing that mattered. We have always believed in the Word of God and that there is an absolute truth, revealed by God. Now, more and more, we had come to see that there is a concrete historic Church founded by Christ, and a treasure, a deposit of both objective and living faith. This attracted and drew us into the Catholic Church. If we believed that the fullness of truth is embedded in and upheld by the Catholic Church, then we did not have any choice but to fully unite with this Church.


When the time finally came to be received into the Church we felt more than ready, anxious to leave no-man’s-land. It felt like finally becoming who we really were. At last the longing for the participation in the sacramental grace came to an end.

We have tried to explain to our friends that we are not rejecting that which God gave us in our Evangelical and Charismatic environment but, as the saying goes, “Evangelical is not enough.” It is not wrong in its love of Scripture and upholding of the basic truths of the Gospel and its fervent evangelising. All this is necessary, but it is not enough. The Charismatic life, with its emphasis of the power and the leading of the Holy Spirit is necessary, and it is an amazing gift. But it cannot be lived out in its fullness in a schismatic and overly individualistic environment. Understanding this opened us to the realisation of the necessity of the Church in its fullness, with its rich sacramental life.

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Fr. Longenecker on Bishop Tony Palmer’s Catholic funeral

Most interesting, including the links:

It seems that there are some Catholics who are upset that the Pope’s friend Bishop Tony Palmer was given a Catholic Requiem. Go here and here.

They shouldn’t be.

We can pray for the repose of the soul of anyone, and a requiem Mass is simply the prayer of the church for the repose of someone’s soul.

To do so is an act of mercy and faith.

If the person is a family member of Catholics it is even more appropriate if they desire a requiem Mass for that person.


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