Tag: baptism in the Spirit

Surrendering to the Spirit

This article originally appeared in Renewal Ministries’ February 2020 newsletter. Ralph Martin was introduced to  Fr. Paul Sciberras while speaking at a priests’ retreat in Malta. In this testimony, Fr. Paul, head of the Department of Sacred Scripture, Hebrew and Greek, at the University of Malta, shares how being baptized in the Holy Spirit at a Life in the Spirit Seminar brought his faith to life in a new way and transformed his understanding of the meaning of his priesthood and the Word of God.

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I have been a priest for thirty years. After my ordination, my superiors asked me to specialize in Scripture Sciences in Rome. I was formed to mentally dissect and filter every word in the Bible with the extra-fine toothcombs of biblical scientific-critical methods.

However, all of this analysing, re-analysing, and re-checking was not satisfying me. Something was missing!

Thankfully, I myself was soaked in the Spirit four years ago, through a Life in the Spirit Seminar, and now I can walk and move in the Spirit as a man and a priest. The breeze that sways the wheat field of my life is the Spirit’s breath in my heart, my actions, and indeed, my whole life.

Baptism in the Spirit is about being soaked (the basic meaning of the Greek verb from which “baptism” derives) like a sponge, not in water but in the Spirit. What comes out and overflows when one is “squeezed” is then the Spirit of holiness of the Father and of Jesus, the Son. Since the Spirit can in no way be separated from its constituents—a father cannot be a father if he doesn’t have a son, and a son is a son because he has been generated—the Spirit is the Spirit of wholeness, integrity, and holiness.

How has this affected the way I experience my faith? Bathing biblical ministry in the Spirit of the Church and for the Church has always meant the world to me. But now it comes more from the heart and makes much more sense. I feel it’s becoming more a question of wisdom and knowledge, than of information and scholarship. The Bible turns out to be always fresh, like living waters, even when I am teaching the simple basics of Hebrew and Greek!

Additionally, Bible scholarship is no longer mere academic prowess. Thanks to the soaking in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God becomes a rhema, truly a Word addressed personally to me. Whilst paying attention to the technicalities of the Hebrew and Greek languages and the historical context of the Scriptures, I now know too well that my academia is not just about producing academics, but about being a source of nourishment for thirsty and seeking believers.

Personally, I feel that the one word that says it all about Baptism in the Spirit, and indeed about the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, is surrender. Surrender! At the beginning of the Life in the Spirit Seminars, I asked myself how could anyone even surrender was possible for me! And yet so it was, as Josef Ratzinger, then prefect of the Congregation of Faith, defined it, “This profound contact with God, becoming a friend of God: it is letting the Other work, the Only One who can really make the world both good and happy.”

After baptism in the Spirit, I began surrendering more and more to the Spirit. Mass has become a heavenly experience. The peace! The joy! After Consecration, I now kneel in adoration: “My Lord and my God; I surrender to You, Lord Jesus!” I make mine the prayer of surrender: “I open all the secret places of my heart to You and say: ‘Come on in.’ Jesus, You are Lord of my whole life. I believe in You and receive You as my Lord and my Saviour. I hold nothing back. Holy Spirit, bring me to a deeper conversion to the person of Jesus Christ. . . . I surrender my understanding of how things ought to be, my choices and my will.” Life in the Spirit is not about doing new things but about doing the old things in a new way: the Spirit’s way.

Yet another discovery is taking place in my heart: not only how the Holy Spirit inspires and breathes his power into the Bible, but how the Bible breathes God back to us—by making it more complete and by making the Bible much more personal!

And finally—because I consider it the filter of all that I am going through—with surrender comes joy; the deep-seated joy where I feel so much at peace!

Surrendering! Yes, it’s possible! It suits me perfectly! It’s the only way!

‘Saudades’: Brazilians Embrace Renewal

This article originally appeared in Renewal Ministries’ May 2019 newsletter.

At the National Formation Conference for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Brazil, attendees each received a sheaf of wheat as they entered. Later, the young people went through the crowd of fifteen thousand, collecting all the wheat in baskets, and then placing them at the feet of Jesus, to emphasize that Pentecost in the Old Testament was a harvest festival as well as a time to celebrate the giving of the law on Sinai. Our Pentecost is meant to bring in a harvest of souls by the power of the Spirit.

By Patti Mansfield

Patti Mansfield

“Patti, I have a great feeling that you will be in my country one day.” These words were scrawled on a postcard from Rio sent to me by a Brazilian Jesuit in 1971. They proved to be prophetic! Since 1994, I have been to Brazil more than twenty-five times. I am in love with Brazil and her people, and I can understand their word “Saudades.”  It means: “I’m missing and loving you!”

Why do I love Brazil? I love the way Brazilians have embraced and lived the baptism in the Spirit with enthusiasm and joy. There are twelve million Brazilians who are baptized in the Holy Spirit. I remember hearing Archbishop Alberto Taveira tell thousands of university students, “You are called to be apostles of the baptism in the Spirit.” There it is! Baptism in the Spirit: front and center! Eight hundred vibrant communities have borne tremendous spiritual fruit and priestly vocations. Then there are the 14,000 prayer groups under the leadership of the Charismatic Renewal of Brazil (RCC).

The baptism in the Spirit has overflowed in works of prayer and formation; intercession; evangelization; care for the poor; ministry to children; outreach to university students, lawyers, judges, and politicians; twenty-four-hour Catholic Charismatic radio and television; publications; and more.

One of the things I love the most is the way Mary is honored in Brazil, especially Our Lady of Aparecida, their patroness. The Brazilians have set to music the Prayer of Consecration, “O my Queen, O my Mother, I give myself entirely to you.” I have never been to an event of the Renewal in Brazil where Our Lady was not honored and welcomed. I believe that this integration of Mary and the Holy Spirit is the secret of their fruitfulness, and we would do well to learn from them!

Speaking of Aparecida, I was called there suddenly in July 2018, to replace Sr. Briege McKenna at a retreat for priests. Aparecida is the town where Our Lady appeared about three hundred years ago, and it is the spiritual heart of Brazil. There were over two hundred priests; the average age was about thirty eight! Some men had just been ordained and about a third of the priests were new to the Charismatic Renewal. I was there just after the abuse scandal broke in the States, and I wanted to do something to strengthen the priesthood. By the grace of God, I was able to minister personally through the charismatic gift of revelation to each man. I’ve been used in this charism before, but never with the speed and accuracy that I experienced during those days. It was an increase and acceleration of grace because the times we’re living in call for it!

And that leads me to the prophetic word I received my last day with the priests:

“Brazil will lead the world in this new move of My Spirit which is coming. As you yield to Me, as you praise Me, as you look to Me, I will greatly increase your numbers. I will open doors that until now have been shut. I will give you an “entrée” to people who up to now have been closed. You will be amazed at the way the fire spreads. As in the beginning, in the first Pentecost, my Spirit will use you with great power. Be careful. Make sure to keep yourself very humble and to acknowledge that it is My power using you and not any force of persuasion of your own. Break your pride. Break your egoism. And you will see what the power of My Spirit can do. Remain humble, looking at Me and watch what I, the Lord your God, will do.”

Two months later, I was back in Brazil for a conference for six thousand teens at the Sanctuary of the Mother of God in Sao Paolo, home of my dear friend Fr. Marcelo Rossi, whose vocation was born in the Charismatic Renewal. His nearly twenty-five years of priesthood have been spent lifting up the Lord Jesus Christ through his celebration of the Eucharist (over six thousand people come to Mass at 6 a.m.), his music, and his books. He is followed by close to ten million people daily on the Internet and is one of the best-known priests in Brazil. What a joy to call the youth “to love Jesus as He has never been loved before!”

Katia Roldi Zavaris, president of the National Council of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Brazil, then invited me to the National Formation Conference in January of this year at Cancao Nova, in the largest covered stadium in Latin America. Brazil is celebrating fifty years of Charismatic Renewal in their country. For me, Katia is a living example of what Saint John Paul II meant when he spoke about “the feminine genius”the particular way a woman can exercise leadership with maternal grace. When Katia assumed the presidency, this event drew four thousand leaders and very few priests. This year, there were fifteen thousand leaders (most under the age of thirty-five), three hundred seminarians, and 180 priests, along with many bishops.

The leadership council began the celebration by processing in with an open Bible over their hearts to signal the commitment to reading and obeying the Word of God. Katia had been deeply impressed by the prophetic word I received at Circus Maximus in the presence of Pope Francis on June 3, 2017. In one of her talks, she referred to that prophecy:

“Lift up your eyes and see, that the fields are white for harvest. And if you would obey me, and if you would obey the prompting of my Spirit, you will yet see, infinitely more than you can ask or imagine. You will yet see the power of my Spirit descend upon the human race. I tell you, the fields are white for harvest, but I need your obedience, I need your docility, I need your faith, and you will yet see marvels that will astound you, infinitely more than you can ask or imagine, for the glory of my name.”

The fields are white! As people entered, each one received a sheaf of wheat. After Katia’s presentation, the young people went through the crowd of fifteen thousand, collecting all the wheat in baskets, which were then placed at the feet of Jesus. Katia made the point that Pentecost in the Old Testament was a harvest festival as well as a time to celebrate the giving of the law on Sinai. Our Pentecost is meant to bring in a harvest of souls by the power of the Spirit.

My travel companion received a prophetic word for the Brazilian leaders, knowing nothing about my prophecy to the priests last July. The similarities are striking!

“I am sending a new and greater wave of My Spirit upon you. Greater things will you do in My Spirit. All that you have seen and experienced has been a foretaste of My Spirit with you. As I release this new wave upon you, there will be increase . . . exponential increase of numbers . . . increase in My gifts and power. As you love My Mother and remain low in humility, I will bring more! You, My people of Brazil, will be a light, a witness to the world of the new and fresh outpouring of My Spirit. They will look upon you and hunger and thirst for My Spirit to come in new ways. You will bring My Spirit to the world.”

Amen!  Let it be!

Patti Gallagher Mansfield was a participant in the historic Duquesne Weekend that marked the beginning of the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church. From the first days of the Renewal, she has served in leadership through her teaching, writing and pastoral ministry.  Patti has ministered at conferences and retreats for laity and priests around the world.  For the past fifty years, she has proclaimed the grace of the baptism in the Spirit on all five continents. 

She has authored As By A New Pentecost: Golden Jubilee Edition,Proclaim the Joy of the Gospel, and Everyday Holiness. She also is a frequent guest on The Choices We Face.

Patti is married to Al Mansfield, Director of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal of New Orleans, Louisiana, and together they serve as liaisons to the Archbishop of New Orleans on behalf of the Renewal.  They have four adult children and eleven grandchildren.  In the Jubilee Year 2000, the Mansfields were awarded the Papal Medal, Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (For the Church and the Pope), by Saint John Paul II.