I don’t know what to make of the “baptisms in the spirit” that were mentioned in the first reading. They are a definite phenomenon, but they are not necessarily a true religious occurrence. Baptisms in the spirit have been around in Pentecostal churches for more than a hundred years. Then, from sixty years ago they became a big thing with some Catholics who called themselves Charismatics.
Forty years ago I was pastor of a parish with a strong Charismatic group. It was made up of admirable, sincere people, but they did not fit in well with old-time Catholics. They saw them as incomplete Christians. The charismatics were always trying to get others to come out to the piney woods where there was a preacher with a gift of laying on hands. They differed from our other parishioners by their joining up with fundamentalist Pentecostal. With them they rejected the teachings of Vatican II.
Our bishop invited a charismatic Father Diorio to our diocese over Christmas one year, and he gave each of his appearances wide billing throughout the diocese.
When Father Diorio later made an appeared to a packed church in Brooklyn I had two priest friends stationed nearby. When Father Roy and Father Bud, got into the back of the church, Father Diorio, spotted their Roman collars, and he asked them to come up to help him laying on hands.
Fifty people at a time took their stance along the church’s old-fashioned communion rail, and they were backed up by fifty men who were instructed to catch any people who swooned from the laying on of hands.
Father Diorio told Father Bud and Father Roy to join him in moving back and forth laying on hands, but when they told him they didn’t have the gift, he said it didn’t matter, and they could use any words they wanted. Because most people wanted to be touched by Father Diorio, he skipped back and forth, giving them a full share of those who came seeking.
And, sure enough, Bud and Roy were slaying as many as Father Deorio. Like, they were getting every eighth person. When Bud went home afterwards, he tried standing in front of a couch, planning on slumping back, pretending to be slain, but his body wouldn’t let him slump back. So, like I said, it is a real occurrence; but like hypnotism it is real, but not spiritual.
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