I’ve known about Fr. Jake Randall since 1983 when I read a piece by him in New Covenant magazine. He was 30 years a priest then and referred to his priesthood as the BC/AD experience, the difference between the two being the Holy Spirit.
In No Spirit, No Church, Fr. Randall tells his story of the Spirit, and it’s a powerful one. The Catholic Church today is, for the most part, like Ezekiel’s vision, dry, scattered bones. We desperately need the Holy Spirit. When you read this book, you will see what a difference the Holy Spirit can make in the life of a priest, the Church or our lives. Buy it. Read it. Share it!
When Second Vatican Council opened in 1962, the initial documents coming from the prelates and theologians said little about the Holy Spirit. The bishops from the eastern churches objected and said, “No Spirit, No Church” and the Council fathers made changes and wrote the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: Lumen Gentium which gave the Holy Spirit His due. It also opened the way for the Charismatic Renewal to be born in the Church at Duquesne University in 1967 when some Pentecostals prayed over some Catholics, and they were baptized in the Holy Spirit – 52 years ago. For a number of decades, the Renewal grew in leaps and bounds and certainly sparked the Church, but that growth has certainly stopped. For sure, it ain’t what it used to be and no one can argue that the Church doesn’t need it today. The attendance numbers tell us it’s dying. In many ways, it’s becoming like Ezekiel’s vision, scattered, dry bones for a whole number of reasons. What to do?
The Holy Spirit has allegedly sent Our Mother to Medjugorje, and together they’re bringing about thousands of conversions and hundreds of vocations. One Italian Cardinal recently commented that he thought that Medjugorje is the spiritual lungs of Europe. I suspect that he’s right. If Medjugorje is sparking the Faith in Europe, is it being sparked here and elsewhere? Frankly, this Catholic layman isn’t seeing it, at least not here. The hierarchy, again, seems to be suppressing the Holy Spirit. How’s that going to change? Only the Holy Spirit can do that maybe one diocese at a time, bishop by bishop. The Spirit is in charge.
Fr. John Randall STD, of fond memory, shared with us his experience with the Holy Spirit, and how he and others were able to evangelize whole sections of Providence RI and elsewhere. They allowed the Holy Spirit to use them to accomplish His work. Before going home to the Lord in 2011, he penned a book, No Spirit, No Church, through which he tells his story. In a way, you might call it an instruction manual on how to let the Holy Spirit and Holy Mother bring about evangelization and conversion.
Fr. Randall was initially against those Holy Rollers, as the Charismatics were called then (what are they called today?). He was a Scripture scholar, a Doctor of Theology and the spiritual director of a seminary. He thought he had it all together and then God took him down another road he had no idea existed. In the spring of 1968, Don Wilkerson of Brooklyn Teen Challenge, brother of David Wilkerson of “The Cross and the Switchblade” fame, prayed over Fr. Randall to receive the Holy Spirit and the rest is history. He became a new priest in Christ. In 1983, he referred to his priesthood as the BC/AD experience. He continued to be led by the Spirit for the next 43 years until his birth to eternal life some 8 years ago. In the beginning of the book, he wrote about how the Holy Spirit was just about ignored in Providence at Pentecost, 2006. “We’re back in 1962; the move of the Holy Spirit has all but died out here.” He was crestfallen. His sister Mary asked him, “What are you going to do about it?” “Most people in the Church have not seen what you have seen and heard. You had better make it known before you die. Write it down for posterity, so that they will be able to see what the Spirit can do. And what happens when He is not central to Church life.” Thankfully, he did just that.
The book is uplifting and inspirational but pulls no punches. Both layman and priest can be touched by the power of the Spirit just as the early Christians were in the Book of Acts. He wants to light our hearts, to set us on fire. However, there’s a caveat, we have to want the Spirit to enter in. Fr. Randall and others promoting the Renewal found again and again, that, while, priests understood it in their heads, getting it into their hearts was a different matter - that can be a long trip.
Personally, I experienced God as real in 1979 and was high as a kite and hot as a pistol. I wanted so to give it away. After a while I realized that you can’t give an experience away. It’s yours. In the book, Fr. Randall relates how he was initially against the baptism in the Holy Spirit (Holy Rollers) but then became open to give it a shot. Hey, what have I got to lose? It completely changed his life and the lives of the people he was able to touch for the next 43 years. Give it a shot.
I’ve been mulling over how to share some of what’s in the book to encourage you to get your own copy. I’m really not a good enough writer to try to write a nutshell of this book. Besides, I’m too lazy, and there’s too much there. I decided to make an addendum to this email which contains passages that I underlined while reading the book. You’ll see the piece and the page. I pray it helps you get a flavor of what’s in the book so that you order your own. Here’s one example:
One other thing I remember from Rome is that there was a German theologian, Herbert Muhlen, probably the world's most outstanding Catholic theologian on the Holy Spirit, who gave testimony out at the gathering at St. Callistus' Catacombs. He was a member of the Church-sponsored International Dialogue between Catholics and Pentecostals, in which people like David Duplessis, a Pentecostal from America, took part.
In the course of the Dialogue, all the members had become friends. Once, David got very frustrated with Herbert by the end of the day. He said, "Herbert, you know more about the Holy Spirit than all of us put together—I don't doubt that—but for you, it's all up in your head. You need to get it down into your heart, too." Then he said, "Will you do me a favor tonight, Herbert?" He replied, "Sure, David. What do you want me to do?" "When you go to your room, will you kneel down and ask the Holy Spirit to put all that you have up in your head down in your heart? The longest distance in the world is from head to heart." Herbert said, "Sure, I'll do that." The next morning he came bursting into the Dialogue at 9:00 a.m. He cried out in German—and full of the Spirit—"Jesus ist der Herr!" ("Jesus is Lord!")
Now, God had answered David's and his prayer and moved it from his head to his heart. Herbert became a full-blown charismatic overnight! I heard Herbert give this testimony himself right in Rome that day. He told another story: "You know, for us theologians, if there were two doors in front of us, one that says 'Discussion about Heaven' and another that says 'Heaven,' guess which door we would go in. We'd go in the 'Discussion about Heaven' door, whereas you, David, you Pentecostals, would go in the 'Heaven' door!" p101Veni Sancte Spiritus!
Pax et bonum,
ArticleBaptized in the Spirit
“It seems like a whole new life.”
By Father John Randall
I have been a priest now for 30 years. The first 15 I refer to as B.C., and the second 15 years as A.D. It’s not that I wasn’t Christian or even a happy priest the first half of my priesthood; it’s just that the difference between the two periods is so great that it seems like a whole new life.
I can pinpoint the exact moment the change began. One evening Donald Wilkerson of Brooklyn’s Teen Challenge prayed over me for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit in my personal life and ministry. I didn’t understand what it all meant, but I knew if it were possible to have more of God I wanted it.
The next morning as I started to celebrate Mass I experienced Jesus right beside me. The Mass was brand new! That sense of God’s presence has never left me.
Six months later I was prayed over by a Catholic Pentecostal leader, Paul DeCelles. At that time I taught scripture on the college level and was a member of the Catholic Biblical Association. I had had excellent academic training.
But in that moment of prayer, by a pure gift of the Spirit, I was lifted to an entirely new level of biblical knowledge and love. I describe it as a change from the Greek concept of knowledge, which is intellectual, to the Hebrew understanding, which is experiential. God was right there reading the Bible to me. I wept for sheer joy. Again, this gift of God has never left me.
Rather quickly, other things began to happen. I thought that to love God meant mostly to serve Him. Now He became my intimate friend. I walked with Him all the time. I never tired of praising Him. I knew, with that experiential kind of knowledge, that god loved me even more that I loved Him.
He seemed to be putting everything at my disposal; His life, peace, joy, love, heart, and mind. Wherever I went, others who had yielded to the Holy Spirit were having the same experiences. We rejoiced together.
I began to devour the lives of the saints, taking dusty volumes off the shelves. Some of their experiences were the same as mine, and I wanted to learn from them.
I began to realize why God had not seemed to hear a lot of my prayers. I had been trying to sell Him to my plans, and He just would not buy them: “Lord, when are you going to move? When are you going to renew your church, this parish, this seminary?”
The power of the Holy Spirit was so evident as I joined with other Christians in the Father’s love, in praise and in prayer. We were like the first Christians, coming together “to listen to the apostle’s teaching, to fellowship, to break bread, and to pray” (Acts 2:42).
A new power to evangelize – actually an irresistible drive to share the love of God and his word – came over me. I felt impelled to speak, to write, and to sing of the great treasure available to us.
I could summarize it all by saying that I was not working for God anymore. He was working in and through me. I was definitely the junior partner. I could sleep nights now without worrying and wake up to new adventures with God. I knew what St. Francis meant when he sang of being the king’s herald and servant.
As a theologian I was able to identify with Heribert Muhlen, the noted German theologian of the Holy Spirit, after he was baptized in the Holy Spirit. I recall his testimony at the international leader’s conference in Rome in 1975. “We German theologians,” he said, “if facing two doors, one of which said ‘Discussion about Heaven’ and the other marked ‘Heaven” would go in the door marked ‘Discussion about Heaven,’”. That is what I had been doing too!
Muhlen went on to say that after being prayed over he had made a very long journey – for him the longest in the world – the journey from his head to his heart. I can still hear him crying out at the Rome conference before 10,000 people: “Jesus ist der Herr!” (Jesus is Lord).
IS GOD’S GIFT FOR ALL?
Is this experience for everyone? Is being baptized in the Holy Spirit for all?
I am absolutely convinced it is. In fact, I think it is a kind of watershed, or better, a bridge that once crossed makes all the difference in the world. It’s the B.C. /A.D. change I spoke of above. It’s getting out of the driver’s seat” in order to experience the Lord in charge, taking us on an exciting ride to a whole new world.
If people do not receive this power of the Holy Spirit they will not be effective apostles, they will not perform signs and wonders, and they will not experience the fruit of the Holy Spirit in their lives. They will not experience what Jesus promised his followers: “You will do the things I do and even greater because I go to the Father” (John 14:12).
I distinctly remember a conversation I had with Fr. George Kosicki of Bethany House of Intercession concerning several days of renewals and retreats we had given. We had both tried to be diplomatic about introducing the charismatic renewal, especially to priests. Progress would be painstakingly made, and at the end our fellow priests would be genuinely grateful, telling us we had answered their questions and that they were satisfied. They could see now, they said, that there was theological justification for this movement.
However, from my perspective that was not enough. Lives were not changed. Everything remained “in the head.” We were still in the room marked “Discussion about heaven.”
So Fr. Kosicki and I decided to take the bull by the horns. We believed that being baptized in the Holy Spirit was for everyone; abbots, bishops, lay men and women, priests, religious – everybody. We started to say that, and while we met with more resistance we also began to see lives change. We began to see priests not just talking about a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit in their lives but being willing to be prayed with for it.
God wants his people to give up control of their lives, to open themselves to the earthshaking dimension of a New Pentecost, letting the Spirit lead, guide, and empower them. It makes a profound difference. It means crossing the bridge to where lives and ministries will never be the same again – where God is truly god, where Jesus is truly Lord, and where we his people have the ability and joy to serve the great king with his very power and wisdom.
Often in today’s church ambitious campaigns of evangelism or religious instruction for youth seem to meet with little success. I believe the reason is that people involved in these ministries are not sufficiently empowered by the Holy Spirit. There is no substitute for being baptized in the Holy Spirit. You can either cross that bridge or condemn yourself and your program s to being largely ineffectual. Only what the Lord inspires, leads, and builds will stand. It is as simple as that!
HOW TO BE BAPTIZED IN THE SPIRIT
Jesus said, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened for you….What father among you if his son asked for a fish would give him a serpent?...If you, evil as you are, know how to give your sons good things, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy spirit to those who ask him” (Luke 11:9, 11, 13).
Do you notice the correspondence between good things and the Holy Spirit? Being baptized in the Holy Spirit is God’s gift good gift to us. The way to receive it is by asking the Father in Jesus’ name to send his Spirit. He wants to do that even more than we want to receive it! It is simple, not complicated. We are the ones who complicate it.
At the first Pentecost Peter very clearly and simply told the crowd what they were to do: Repent, believe in Jesus, and receive the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:38). There is no magic formula, only this.
Repent for your past sins. If you are presently in a sinful pattern or life style, repent and turn away from it. God’s love for you is infinite, and for those who turn to Him his provision far outweighs any pleasure we could seek for ourselves. If you are Catholic take advantage of the sacrament of reconciliation for grace and healing.
Acknowledge your need for a savior. You cannot live a good or worthwhile life apart from Jesus Christ. Tell Him you need Him to be your personal Lord and savior.
Receive the Holy Spirit. God can respond to our prayer privately if He so wishes. But usually he touches our lives through other’s prayer for us to receive new life in the Holy Spirit. He wants us to have good fellowship and support in the Christian life. Look for a strong prayer group in your parish, city, or diocese. Go to these brothers and sisters and tell them you want to have a new life in the Holy Spirit.
God will not hold back from you what He most desires to give. The great grave of a new Pentecost is upon us. Those who seek will find.
I believe that once you yield your life to be baptized in the Holy Spirit there is a bridge you cross after which you will never be the same. If it has happened to you, you know it. If not, it is waiting for you. Come, Lord Jesus!