Baptism in the Holy Spirit
In the New Testament, baptism with the Holy Spirit names the Pentecostal event and experience.
"I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." (Matthew 3:11)
"I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." (Mark 1:8)
"John answered them all, 'I baptize you with water; but he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.'" (Luke 3:16)
"And John bore witness, 'I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God." (John 1:32-34)
"for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 1:5)
"As I [Peter]began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, 'John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?" When they heard this they were silenced. And they glorified God, saying, 'Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance unto life." (Acts 11:15-18)
In the Early Church
In the early centuries baptism in the Holy Spirit named baptism and confirmation—the sacraments of initiation into the Christian life—but a Pentecostal experience was expected to accompany reception of those sacraments. Today, baptism in the Holy Spirit names a conversion experience.
When Christians receive the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, they usually are not helped to become reliant on the Person of the Holy Spirit, on His guidance, on His Power, on His charismatic gifts. Through the baptism in the Holy Spirit they are led through an enlightenment and conversion that enables them to have a Pentecostal experience—a fuller experience of the Spirit and His power and charisms in their lives. As Christians become more reliant on the Spirit, they are led into a charismatic spirituality which is proper to the charismatic dimension of the Church [note: Baptism in the Spirit does not involve a fresh baptism with water].
Most people experience this conversion and the release of the Holy Spirit after a formation program like the "Life in the Spirit" seminar. This seminar prepares them for the baptism in the Holy Spirit which rekindles their baptismal graces. This formation program, besides releasing the influence of the Spirit in their lives, leads people to an authentic faith in the Person of Jesus and to an authentic faith in the Person of the Holy Spirit. Accepting the baptism in the Spirit is not joining a special group. Rather it is embracing the fullness of one's Christian initiation.
This charismatic spirituality is not one spirituality among others in the Church. It is the spirituality of the Church, for the Church has both institutional and charismatic dimensions. By the guidance of the Holy Spirit, these Christians have a more realistic and experiential relationship with the Father and Jesus, have the Spirit's power to live the Christian life and to follow the laws of God and the Church, have a new longing to read God's word, have a hunger for a Spirit-led community, and experience the charismatic gifts of the Spirit in their daily services and ministries.
Pope Benedict XVI greeted the people gathered in St. Peter's Square on Pentecost, May 11, 2008:
"Today we celebrate the solemnity of Pentecost. . . . We read in the Acts of the Apostles that the disciples were gathered together in prayer in the Cenacle when the Holy Spirit descended upon them with power like wind and fire. They then began to proclaim the glad tidings of Christ's resurrection in many languages (cf. Acts 2:1-4). That was the 'baptism in the Holy Spirit,' which had already been announced by John the Baptist: 'I have baptized you with water,' he said to the crowds, 'but he who comes after me is more powerful than me. (...) He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit' (Matthew 3:11)."
"In effect, Jesus' whole mission was aimed at giving the Spirit of God to men and baptizing them in the "bath" of regeneration. This was realized through his glorification (cf. John 7:39), that is, through his death and resurrection: Then the Spirit of God was poured out in a superabundant way, like a waterfall able to purify every heart, to extinguish the flames of evil and ignite the fire of divine love in the world."
"The Acts of the Apostles present Pentecost as a fulfillment of such a promise and therefore as the crowning moment of Jesus' whole mission. After his resurrection, he himself ordered his disciples to stay in Jerusalem, because, he said, 'In a short time you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit' (Acts 1:8); and he added: 'You will have the power of the Holy Spirit, who will descend upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all of Galilee and Samaria unto the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8)."
"Pentecost is, thus, in a special way, the baptism of the Church who undertakes her universal mission beginning from the streets of Jerusalem with prodigious preaching in the different languages of humanity. In this baptism of the Holy Spirit the personal and communal dimensions – the "I" of the disciple and the "we" of the Church – are inseparable. The Spirit consecrates the person and at the same time makes him a living member of the mystical body of Christ, a participant in the mission to witness to his love."