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Happy 57th birthday, CCR!

By Patti Gallagher Mansfield

Patti Gallagher Mansfield, who was present at the Duquesne weekend, reflects on the wonders of God at the founding of CCR in 1967-and how baptism in the Spirit has helped her to know what it means to truly be a Christian.

“Blessed are the eyes which see what you see.  For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear and did not hear it” (Lk. 10:23-24).  How often these words of Jesus have echoed within me over the past 57 years since I was baptised in the Spirit on the Duquesne Weekend. February 17-19 will mark the anniversary of the birth of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, the largest ecclesial movement. Through no merit of my own, I have been a witness to this extraordinary outpouring of God’s grace that has spread from a handful of us students in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to over 120 million Catholics worldwide.  Yes indeed, blessed are my eyes!

For me, the Baptism in the Spirit was, and still is, an immersion in the love of God.  One of my favourite passages is Romans 5:5: “The love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.”  What have I experienced because of the Baptism in the Spirit?  I have come to an intimate knowledge of the Living God!  And this is sheer grace, totally undeserved.  With the psalmist, I can say from personal experience: “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8).  In the hymn to the Spirit, the Veni Creator Spiritus, we pray: “O, may Thy grace on us bestow, the Father and the Son to know.”  The Baptism in the Spirit has helped me to know the tenderness and providence of God my Father, the mercy and friendship of Jesus my Saviour and Lord, the consolation and power of the Holy Spirit, my soul’s “most welcomed guest.”

A time to renew our longing for God

Once I was asked by a priest, “What keeps you going in your service of the Lord in the Charismatic Renewal?”  Without hesitation I could reply, “Gratitude!”  Gratitude for the supreme gift of “knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:8) in the power of the Spirit.  With each passing day I see more of my own pride and sin and more of His own humility and mercy.  What an exchange! My sins for His holiness!  Often, I repeat with wonder and thanksgiving these words of St. Paul: “He loved me and gave Himself for me!” (Gal. 2:20).  I feel, 57 years after the Duquesne Weekend, absolutely poor and absolutely rich at the same time.  The task of evangelization is really nothing more than the overflow of life.  It’s simply saying with the bride of the Song of Songs: “Such is my lover, and such is my friend!”  Baptism in the Spirit has helped me experience what it really means to be a Chirstian.

For us in the Charismatic Renewal worldwide, this wonderful 57th anniversary is a time to renew our longing for God, to expand our desires to match His desires.  I believe that our Heavenly Father is looking for men and women who will put themselves radically at His disposal like Mary did, men and women who want to be possessed by the love of Christ, men and women who are willing to welcome at any cost an outpouring of the Holy Spirit powerful enough to renew the face of the earth.

Many years ago, a pioneer in the Pentecostal movement named Smith Wigglesworth visited Niagara Falls and was overwhelmed by the sight. As he gazed at spectacular outpouring of water and felt the power that it unleased, Smith prayed this anointed prayer: “Just like that, Lord!  Just like that!  Out of my heart let it flow, just like that!  Rivers of living water, just like that!”  Did not Jesus say, “If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink.  He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water (Jn. 7:37-38).  Let’s be among those who are thirsty for more of the Holy Spirit today! Picture-A Brazilian friend colorised the photo above of the original students at the Duquesne Weekend. Here it is for your enjoyment as we celebrate 57 YEARS of grace in this mighty BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT!!


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