by Claire Dwyer
In today's meeting, Dan Burke walked us through the process of conversion - which is a life-long, ever-deepening process. But at its foundation, it looks like this: Conviction of sin, belief in the Gospel, embrace of salvation offered by Christ, decision to 'fight,' reception of the Holy Spirit by a new openness to His power, resolve and perseverance in the battle, and life dominated by a disposition of 'yes' to God.
I leaned into the conversation about the Holy Spirit, in part because of a recent conversation. Fr. Cantalamessa, the papal preacher mentioned by Dan, talks about this reality in Sober Intoxication of the Spirit. He explains that the work accomplished in Baptism and Confirmation has two components: opus operatum, that is, what God accomplishes through grace (remission of sin and divine sonship) and opus operantis, that is, the work yet to be accomplished by the individual through his or her "yes."
In an age when many of us, myself included, are baptized as infants in the faith of our parents - which is a good thing - we may have yet to make a radical act of love and surrender in order to more fully release the graces from the sacraments of initiation and begin the process of renewal in our lives and true spiritual maturity. It is, Fr. Cantalamessa, explains, "as though God's outstretched hand has finally grasped the hand of the individual, and through that handclasp, He transmits all of His creative power, which is the Holy Spirit."
This is the true meaning of 'baptism in the Spirit' and as Dan said, it can take many forms: renewal of baptismal promises (we do this during the Easter vigil) profession of vows, undergoing spiritual exercises, laying on of hands. It's a unique and mysterious thing which 'respects the uniqueness of our personalities.' But the reality is the same: rekindling the gift of God which is already within.
Have you asked for the grace and strength of the Holy Spirit? Have you experienced His transforming power in your own struggle against sin? If "My Spirit can renew the face of the earth" (Psalm 104) then He can also renew the depths of the human heart. And that is exactly what we, beggers at the foot of the Cross, so desperately need.