in october 1985 i worked as a sales rep for lanier. at that time, i had begun to be more involved in my faith. i had joined the young adult ministry at holy family–the cathedral parish in orange. i was making decent money and life was good.
and then my life changed forever.
one afternoon as i was cold calling businesses in los alamitos, ca, i happened upon a small evangelical church, cottonwood christian center. i saw two women gardening and asked them if the pastor was in. they pointed me to the offices. the church needed to upgrade their copier. it was a standard meeting with the pastor to find out how much they used their current machine.
when i was leaving the office, two women who were gardening approached me and asked me if i wanted to pray. one of he women’s name was kit and was the mother of the pastor. as i was getting back into my catholic faith, i was very open to praying and answered, “yes”
kit took my hands into hers, closed her eyes and began thanking and praising God. she had a joyful smile while she was praying. i closed my eyes. then, kit and the other woman began to pray beautifully in tongues. i heard their praying and then all of a sudden, i began to pray in tongues. my body felt like a glass with warm water being poured into it. as these strange words were coming out of me, i began to cry uncontrollably. it seems like this went on for ten minutes but was probably only 30 seconds.
the crescendo of prayer for the three of us came to a quiet end and when i opened my eyes, i felt absolutely floored. as i was getting my bearings and wiping the tears from my eyes, i ignorantly asked the women, “what language were you speaking?” kit smiled at me and responded, “that’s the prayer language!” she told me that the two of them had been praying for me as i met with the pastor. they went to get the pastor to let him know that i was “baptized in the Spirit.” he came out to see me, very pleased that the Holy Spirit showered grace upon me in prayer. kit gave me some literature that explained what had just happened. i left stunned in my being.
needless to say i could not just go back to work. i went to a nearby park and read all the literature that explained the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit, being baptized in the Spirit, and praying in tongues. there was so much to take in and try to understand.
to this day, i still do not understand all that happened to me on that day!
i can say with confidence that my life took on a very different trajectory from the moment of my baptism in the Spirit. thankfully, holy family had a young adult minister name tita smith who was very knowledgeable in the various charismatic movements. she suggested that i go through the six week catholic program “life in the Spirit.” it was at st. anne’s parish in seal beach. i joke that we catholics need to program our encounters with the Holy Spirit! at the end of that wonderful six weeks was the prayer over the participants. hopefully, there would many baptisms in the Holy Spirit at the final liturgy. there were many. i was slain in the Spirit and rested in the Spirit for about 15 minutes.
these memories are dear to me. i rarely share them with others. but when there are opportunities to share them, i am not reluctant.
this week, a dear claretian brother-friend talked about his past experiences with the charismatic movement. he pondered if the Spirit is inviting him to renew that aspect of his spiritual life. and now, hearing his reflection, i am pondering too what God is doing in my own life and these extraordinary gifts of the Spirit.
what is possible and how will i respond? what graces do i need to discern future steps well?
the embers of the fire are present. there are times during my personal prayer that i pray in tongues when i do not know what to say or emotions run high. where will the Spirit lead me from here? will i follow?
“Come, Holy Spirit, come! And from your celestial home, shed a ray of light divine! Come, come, Father of the poor! Come, Source of all our store! Come, within our bosoms shine. You, of comforters the best; You the soul’s most welcome Guest; Sweet refreshment … Come”