The Life in the Spirit Seminars have been one of the best tools in the twentieth century for leading people to new life in the Spirit. These seminars have been so powerful because their authors wisely applied Biblical principles. Over the years, many Christian leaders have been led by the Spirit to adapt the Life in the Spirit Seminars to various circumstances. Some people have also applied other Biblical principles to develop additional Life in the Spirit seminars. This book is an attempt to do this. In the last twenty years, I have been a part of over a hundred Life in the Spirit Seminars, Pentecost novenas, and other programs related to the Holy Spirit. The following seminars have been used repeatedly by the Lord to stir into flame the gift of the Spirit (see 2 Tm 1:6-7), that is, to renew our Baptisms and Confirmations.
The advantage of these additional seminars are:
Come, Holy Spirit!
"You must reform and be baptized, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, that your sins may be forgiven; then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. It was to you and your children that the promise was made, and to all those still far off whom the Lord our God calls." Acts 2:38-39
At the first Christian Pentecost, Peter was asked what we must do to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37). Peter answered that we must repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38). Most of us have already been baptized. Therefore, to receive the Holy Spirit in a deeper way, we need to renew our Baptisms. In doing this, we will become more deeply aware of how much God loves us and what He has done for us. Realizing His love, we will become more sensitized to our sins and led to repentance and the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
For many centuries, the Lord has directed the Church to call us to renew our Baptisms by renewing our baptismal promises. The first baptismal promise is: "Do you reject Satan?" Satan is not a personification but a creature with personal qualities such as intellect and will (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2851). Therefore, Satan knows we are rejecting Him, and He hates us. He rages against us and will try to take revenge on us for rejecting him publicly. Because we are going to make the fourth, fifth, an sixth baptismal promises, we can reject Satan without him retaliating and hurting us badly. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit will protect us from Satan's vengeance.
In making the second baptismal promise, we reject all Satan's works. To do this authentically, we must know what and how many are his works. If Satan has two works and we're not interested in either one of them, then it will be easy to reject all his works. But if Satan has hundreds of thousands of works or even millions of them and if we are very involved in these works, then rejecting all of Satan's works would be a monumental decision necessitating extensive life-style changes. Jesus calls Satan "the prince of this world" (Jn 14:30). When Satan tempted Jesus, Satan maintained that all the kingdoms of the world were his and he could give them to Jesus (Lk 4:6). Since that time Satan has acquired many more holdings. Also, Satan, being "the father of lies" (Jn 8:44), is quite successful in making his works very attractive. Pope John Paul II calls our culture a "culture of death." This means we have accepted on a grand scale the works of Satan, "the prince of death" (Heb 2:14). Therefore, it is a monumental and astounding decision to make the second baptismal promise in which we reject all of the millions of very attractive works of the father of lies. Only by the grace of God can we ever renew our baptismal promises. However, His grace is sufficient (2 Cor 12:9).
Next, we reject all of Satan's promises. Like most people, Satan has many more promises than he has works. Even those who have rejected his works often do consider many of them "promising". For example, many people who have never committed adultery have watched adultery on TV many times. They may consider it entertaining, even promising. Making the third baptismal promise is even more difficult than making the second one, and the second one is impossible to make by human standards.
We have the wisdom and the power to reject Satan, all his works, and all his empty promises because we believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is not difficult to believe in God. Almost everyone has believed and does believe in God's existence. To believe in science, technology, and cause-and-effect relationships leads us to believe in God's existence. But it is a great act of faith to believe that the almighty Creator God has adopted us and become our Father. If we believe God is our Father, we do not give in to loneliness (see Jn 16:32), fear, or anxiety (Mt 6:31-32). We could never make this fourth baptismal promise without making the fifth and the sixth because Jesus is the only Way to the Father (Jn 14:6) and the Holy Spirit cries out in our hearts "Abba" (Father) (Gal 4:6).
The fifth baptismal promise is the key to the fourth and sixth. In addition to Jesus being the Way to the Father, He baptizes us in the Spirit (Mk 1:8). That Jesus lived and died is a historical fact. But to believe that He is the incarnate and risen Lord and God is the greatest act of faith and the most important decision that any human being can ever make. Once again, only by grace can we make such a promise which impacts and transforms every aspect of life.
In the sixth baptismal promise, we make an act of faith in the Holy Spirit. This means we are committing ourselves to the Church, the body of Christ, into which we have been baptized in one Spirit (1 Cor 12:13). To believe in the Holy Spirit is to believe in an invisible Triune God living within us. To believe in invisible Persons living inside us seems absurd by human standards. But ironically what seems absurd is actually the wisdom and power of God (see 1 Cor 1:23-24). Only by believing in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit can we understand life, love, marriage, family, suffering, death, and ourselves.
These are some of the highlights of the baptismal promises. Thank the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit for Their amazing love for you personally. In love, go to Confession as soon as possible. Prepare to receive the Holy Spirit in a deeper way. Now by grace renew your baptismal promises.
Do you reject Satan? Response: I do.
And all his works? Response: I do.
And all his empty promises? Response: I do.
Do you believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth? Response: I do.
Do you believe in Jesus Christ,
His only Son, our Lord, Who was born
of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died,
and was buried, rose from the dead,
and is now seated
at the right hand of the Father? Response: I do.
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting? Response: I do.
"Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord." Zechariah 4:6 (our transl.)
The Lord commands us to receive the Holy Spirit (see Jn 20:22) and to "be zealous for the gifts of the Spirit" (1 Cor 14:1, our transl). This means that we must go to any extremes to learn about the Spirit and His gifts, fruits, promptings, and works. We must intensely pray for all that the Spirit has to offer us and zealously use any gifts, fruit, blessings, and graces of the Spirit for the upbuilding of His Church.
However, few Christians are devoted to the Holy Spirit and zealous for His gifts. This causes many Christians to doubt whether we must emphasize the Holy Spirit as part of the essence of life in Christ. They reason: "If the Holy Spirit is so important, why don't most people and even churches focus on the Spirit?" However, we can rise above the hesitancy and reluctance due to doubt and avoid being victims of our culture's blind spots. We can be certain that we should be totally committed to life in the Spirit. We can do this by obeying the Church and her Bible. The Church is "the pillar and bulwark of Truth" (1 Tm 3:15), and the popes are the leaders of the Church, who teach infallibly in faith and morals.
Before Vatican II, Pope John XXIII prayed for a new Pentecost. After Vatican II, Pope Paul VI taught: "The Christology and particularly the ecclesiology of the Council must be succeeded by a new study of and devotion to the Holy Spirit, precisely as the indispensable complement to the teaching of the Council" (quoted in The Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church and the World, Pope John Paul II, 2). Without a greater knowledge of and devotion to the Spirit, we have not properly applied Vatican II. Therefore, Pope John Paul II reiterated Pope Paul VI's prophetic call to a deeper devotion to the Holy Spirit (The Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church and the World, 2). Both Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II have practiced what they have preached by a constant emphasis on the Holy Spirit (e.g. Pope Paul VI's Apostolic Exhortation On Evangelization, 75, and Pope John Paul II's encyclical on the Holy Spirit, The Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church and the World). Pope John Paul II in relation to promoting priestly vocations called all Christians to make "a total act of faith in the Holy Spirit" (I Will Give You Pastors, 1).
Pope John Paul II has also emphasized the gifts of the Spirit on several occasions. For example, he has taught: "The charisms are received in gratitude both on the part of the one who receives them, and also on the part of the entire Church. They are in fact a singularly rich source of grace for the vitality of the apostolate and for the holiness of the whole Body of Christ" (The Lay Members of Christ's Faithful People, 24). Pope John Paul II has also taught: "It is in fact he (the Spirit) who raises up prophets in the Church, instructs teachers, guides tongues, works wonders and healings, accomplishes miracles, grants the discernment of spirits, assigns governance, inspires counsels, distributes and harmonizes every other charismatic gift. In this way he completes and perfects the Lord's Church everywhere and in all things" (quoting from Novatian in the encyclical, The Splendor of Truth, 108).
Because of these authoritative teachings of the Church through the popes, we know for sure that the Holy Spirit with His gifts, fruit, and graces is at the heart of the Church, and therefore is to be received fully and zealously. The Church proclaims clearly and emphatically: "Come, Holy Spirit!"
"Let it be done to me according to Your word" Luke 1:38 (our transl.)
To receive the Holy Spirit, we don't have to be holy. It's the other way around. We need the Holy Spirit to become holy. To receive the Holy Spirit, we don't have to be prayerful. Rather we need the Spirit to help us to pray (Rm 8:26). What do we need in order to receive the Holy Spirit? We must repent (Acts 2:38), ask the Father for the Spirit (Lk 11:13), thirst spiritually (Jn 7:37-38), and obey the Lord (Acts 5:32). The attitude behind all these prerequisites is docility, teachableness to the Holy Spirit, Who is the Teacher (Jn 14:26). Docility is a form of humility. It is humility in the context of receiving teaching. Pope John Paul II has emphasized that the Holy Spirit is received "by the humble and docile hearts of believers" (The Splendor of Truth, 108; see also Towards the Third Millennium, 18 and Mission of the Redeemer, 87). The Church teaches: "More intense prayer should prepare one to receive the strength and graces of the Holy Spirit with docility and readiness to act" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1310, emphasis added).
Docility is a matter of being like Mary as she was guided by the interior activity of the Holy Spirit through her silence, attentiveness, and hope (Toward the Third Millennium, 48). Mary, unlike Zechariah, was so docile to the words of the archangel Gabriel that her reception of the Spirit was a conception. When Mary received the Holy Spirit, she expressed her humility and docility by calling herself the handmaid, the slave of the Lord, and accepting whatever would be done to her according to God's word (Lk 1:38).
Cornelius, the first Gentile to receive the Holy Spirit, was so docile that he "dropped to his knees" before Peter and "bowed low" (Acts 10:25). Just by hearing Peter preach, Cornelius and his household received the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:44).
When Jesus received the Holy Spirit at the River Jordan, He, the Creator, docilely listened to the teaching of His creature, John the Baptizer. With shocking humility, Jesus presented Himself for baptism (Mt 3:13 ff).
To receive the Holy Spirit, we need to be docile to teachings we don't want to hear. For example, many people in our culture have problems accepting the Spirit's gift of tongues. Will you be docile to the Church's teaching and the Biblical revelation concerning this gift? (See our pamphlet, Speaking in Tongues.) Possibly the Church's teaching against artificial birth control is hard for you to take. I know a person who received the Holy Spirit in a new and powerful way immediately after repenting of using artificial birth control. Maybe Jesus' insistence that we forgive everyone immediately for even the grossest offenses is a challenge to your docility (see Mt 18:21 ff). What if the Holy Spirit wanted you to significantly downsize your life-style, would you be docile? (see The Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul II, 98 and Mission of the Redeemer, Pope John Paul II, 60) Which gift of the Spirit do you want the least? Which teaching of the Church and the Bible tends to be a stumbling-block for you? Where are you confronted with the choice between docility or rebellion? Imagine a dam holding back the Spirit's rivers of living water (see Jn 7:37). When we are docile, the dam breaks, and the Spirit flows. Go to Confession. Repent of rebellion. Be docile. Receive the Holy Spirit!
"The flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; the two are directly opposed." Galatians 5:17
The self-centered desires of the flesh are directly opposed to the Spirit. Therefore, to receive the Holy Spirit much more deeply we must be docile to the Lord's command that we "make no provision for the desires of the flesh" (Rm 13:14). We must make the decision to do more than control the flesh. We are to crucify it with its passions and desires (Gal 5:24). This means we must have the courage to reappraise our life-styles with a view to solidarity with the poor in the spirit of the Beatitudes (Mission of the Redeemer, 60). Pope John Paul II has taught: "In a word, we can say that the cultural change which we are calling for demands from everyone the courage to adopt a new life-style, consisting in making practical choices at the personal, family, social and international level on the basis of a correct scale of values: the primacy of being over having, of the person over things" (The Gospel of Life, 98). We may be led by the Spirit (see Gal 5:25) to tithe, give alms, simplify our lives, stop or severely curtail watching TV, get out of debt, move to another house or apartment, offer hospitality to the poor, etc. At first, the necessity of choosing a new life-style may seem to be a great blow to many of us who have spent years working to develop our present life-styles. However, we are not only giving up pleasures and conveniences but also enslaving compulsions, distractions, and pressures. Therefore, it is both a privilege and a hardship to adopt a new, gospel life-style.
While a willingness to adopt a new life-style is necessary to let the Spirit be more active in our lives, this is only part of crucifying the flesh. Of the fifteen works of the flesh mentioned in Gal 5:19-21, eight of the fifteen are not related to self-indulgence and impurity but to a lack of love in personal relationships. "Hostilities, bickering, jealousy, outbursts of rage, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envy" strongly oppose the life in the Spirit (Gal 5:20-21). I believe that the heart of most of these inter-personal conflicts is unforgiveness. Consequently, in order to let the Spirit work freely in our lives, we must forgive everyone for everything done against us. This would take a miracle, for "to err is human, and to forgive is divine."
True forgiveness is to make a decision to accept God's grace to let go of hurts due to sins committed against us and then to express this decision by acts of love and mercy. Forgiveness is being like the father of the prodigal son who embraced his son, gave him gifts, and honored him with a special celebration (Lk 15:20 ff). Obviously, "to forgive is divine," and therefore impossible for human beings to do, but Jesus will give us the miracle of forgiveness. (See our pamphlets, Unforgiveness is the Cause and 14 Questions on Forgiveness.)
In preparation for receiving the Holy Spirit anew, decide to accept God's grace to forgive. Say: "By the power of Jesus, I decide to forgive ________ for ________." Continue making these decisions until you have accepted God's grace to forgive everyone for everything. Then go to Confession. You will be forgiven as you have forgiven those who have sinned against you (Mt 6:12). You may have one of the best Confessions of your life and immediately receive the Holy Spirit in a deep way, or you will be well prepared to receive the Holy Spirit in power at the last seminar.
(If possible, do this last seminar following Mass.)
"When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leapt in her womb, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit." Luke 1:41
"They devoted themselves to the apostles' instructions and the communal life, to the breaking of bread and the prayers." Acts 2:42
In a few minutes, we will pray for each other to renew our Baptisms and Confirmations and to receive the Holy Spirit in a much deeper way. If we thirst for the Lord's love (see Jn 7:37) and repent of anything incompatible with that love (Acts 2:38), we will receive the Holy Spirit in a greater way. Some of us will have dramatic experiences, and powerfully and peacefully feel the Holy Spirit. Others will feel very little. It doesn't matter, for we know we have received the Holy Spirit because the Lord has promised the Spirit to those who ask (Lk 11:13) We must not think about how we are feeling but about the love of the Lord. By faith, not sight or feelings (see 2 Cor 5:7), we should fix our eyes on Jesus and thank Him and the Father after we have received prayers for the Holy Spirit.
After receiving the Spirit, we will probably notice a few changes in our desires. For example, we may have a slightly stronger desire to pray or a slightly weaker desire to watch TV. We may still want to watch TV more than we want to pray, but we should go with the small changes that we notice God giving us. These changes in our desires will be multiplied. If we keep going with these God-given changes in our desires, the Holy Spirit will re-form us who have de-formed ourselves by following the wrong desires (1 Pt 1:14). This re-formation is not the end but the beginning of the Spirit's work. It will lead to freedom, our participation in Christian community, and the outpouring of the Spirit in continuing Pentecosts.
"The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Cor 3:17). The Spirit will lust against the flesh (Gal 5:17) and free us from the disguised slavery due to giving in to the cravings of the flesh (see 2 Pt 2:19). Through these small changes in our desires, the Spirit will not only free us from slavery but also free us for reconciliation, worship, evangelization, discipleship, service, and Christian community.
The Spirit alters our desires so as to make us steadfastly attentive to the Church's teaching and the communal life (Acts 2:42). This is critical. Those who are experienced in giving Life in the Spirit Seminars have found that the fire of the Spirit is usually quenched (1 Thes 5:19) if those receiving the Spirit in the seminars do not continue in a prayer group. However, fewer and fewer people are following up on the Life in the Spirit Seminars by participating in a prayer group. This is a serious problem. The Holy Spirit is overcoming this problem by raising up hundreds of thousands of small Christian communities throughout the world. As the first Christians devoted themselves to the communal life after the first Christian Pentecost, so should we as we receive a new Pentecost. (We at Presentation Ministries offer twelve seminars on entering into and building small Christian communities. This is a good follow-up to the Life in the Spirit Seminars. Contact us for more information and copies of these seminars.)
When Mary received the Holy Spirit, the Annunication resulted in the Visitation. Mary immediately shared the Spirit with John the Baptizer and Elizabeth (Lk 1:39 ff). At the first Christian Pentecost, 120 disciples received the Holy Spirit in the morning (Acts 1:15 ff). These disciples immediately shared the Spirit with several thousand people. Three thousand people were baptized that afternoon (Acts 2:41). Pentecost begins with receiving the Spirit but does not happen until we share the Spirit with others. We pray that for every person who receives the Spirit in this seminar many more will receive the Spirit from those in this seminar or from those touched by those in this seminar. This will make this not only a Life in the Spirit Seminar, but also a new Pentecost. To share the Spirit with others, we should pray for the love of Christ to motivate us (2 Cor 5:14), the Spirit to give us wisdom, and the Father to give us boldness and zeal. To share the Spirit with others, we must simply, clearly, and humbly witness to what the Lord has done in us and in others (Acts 1:8). Our new Pentecost will result in newer Pentecosts for ourselves and others if we let the Spirit change our desires so as to free us from slavery and free us for Christian community and evangelization.
Now, after an opening prayer, the leaders of these seminars will lay hands on you and pray for your Baptism and Confirmation to be renewed. The Holy Spirit will be stirred into flame in your life (2 Tm 1:6-7). Thank the Lord, obey Him (see Acts 5:32), and follow the Spirit's lead (Gal 5:25) and share your life in the Spirit so that it will become Pentecost after Pentecost. Come, Holy Spirit!
If these seminars are done in five weeks, ask the participants to pray one or two prayers from these books for the duration of the seminars.
If these seminars are done in five weeks, ask the participants to read one chapter a day of Acts of the Apostles with the introductory comment for each chapter.
Encourage the participants to go to Mass daily or as frequently as possible during these seminars. The teachings on the daily Mass readings in One Bread, One Body can help the participants enter more deeply into the Mass.
This book can be referred to in the seminars or can be the basis for a series of seminars to follow up on the Life in the Spirit Seminars.
These pamphlets can be referred to in the seminars and distributed to supplement the seminars.
This booklet serves as an introduction to Christian community.
This book contains 12 seminars. It is an ideal follow-up to the Life in the Spirit Seminars. At the conclusion of these twelve seminars, the participants are invited to make an initial three-month commitment to a small Christian community.
Audio/video recordings complementary to the publications listed here are also available.
Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378, www.presentationministries.com