Chapter One: Grace and Devotion to Mary
Chapter Two: Mary, Holy Objects and God
Chapter Three: Primary Teachings - Mary the Virgin
Chapter Four: Mary and Jesus
Chapter Five: Deeper Teachings -
Chapter Six: Teachings Not Yet Declared Dogmas -
Jesus and Mary
A Mediator with our Mediator
Chapter Seven: Final Thoughts and Reflections
of the Holy Spirit
of Jesus Made Present
and Church Unity
Consecration to Mary Individual and
Litany of Mary's Faith Journey
© Copyright, J. Roy MacIntyre 2009
Salvation, Grace and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit
I would like to take some time at this point on salvation, grace and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I would like to address the question of how we are saved. Because of the sin of Adam, which alienated the human race from God, we are in need of salvation. Since the original sin was against God, only God could redeem the human race. Jesus, the God-man, the Incarnate Word of God, came, born of a woman, born under the law to free the human race from the law by shedding His Blood on the cross, dying and rising from the dead. Thus, Jesus saved the human race. Nevertheless, something is required of each person in order that she or he is saved. Each must be born again of water and the Holy Spirit (John 3:5).
What does it mean that one must be born again of water and the Spirit? Baptism is a sacrament, a ritual sigh of Godís action. In the rite of Baptism the personís sins are washed away and the person is grafted into the Body of Christ. In the rite of Baptism the minister acts in the name of Jesus and Baptises in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. In this action, the Holy Spirit comes into the soul of the person being baptised and cleanses and sanctifies and makes the person a new creation in Christ.
Baptism cannot be simply a ritual Ė it requires faith; either the faith of the individual being Baptised or his or her family and community. The faith of the parents is the impetus for the coming of the Spirit into a baby at baptism. This can be seen in the case of the whole household of Cornelius (Acts 10), of Lydia (Acts 16:14-15) and Paulís jailer (Acts 16:27-34). However, an individual Baptised as a baby must make a personal expression of faith when she or he is able to assert a free choice. All that is necessary is that one express a belief in the heart and confess on the lips (Rm 10:12). In the mainline Christian Churches this is done weekly at Sunday liturgies when the creed is publicly confessed. The faith is also specially expressed at Easter time when converts are often baptised. Faith is also expressed when a person is of the age of consent and comes forth to be administered the sacrament of Confirmation.
Unfortunately, confession on the lips is not necessarily equated with belief in the heart. Many people recite the creed with some tentative or even strong agreement without taking to heart what they are confessing. True belief in the heart requires a conscious experience of saying yes to the basics of the Faith. Even individuals who sincerely believe in their heart and confess their faith can experience a renewal and deepening of their faith by an event meant to engender a new bursting forth of that faith.
When a person consciously confesses faith for the first time there are various possible experiences that can happen within the individual. Regardless of whether it is through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit or simply an altar call where a person gives her heart to God the experience is often called a born again experience. As note above for some this experience is a profound and life changing event while for other it is something less of an experience. A question that arises is whether one must have a profound experience in order to really have that born again enlightenment. A second question is whether a profound experience is necessary for oneís salvation.
Letís take a little time with this. The first thing required in order for one to receive the salvation acquired for us by Jesus is faith. This is to say this is the normal way we receive salvation from God. In Romans 10:10 we read that if we confess faith in Jesus and believe in our heart we are saved. St. James suggests the second normal requirement of salvation is good works. In fact, he wrote faith without works is dead (James 2:24).
So good works must follow faith in order to keep faith alive and demonstrate the genuineness of the faith. Jesus, Himself said as much in Matthew 7 (21-22). He taught that it is not those who say Lord, Lord, that is, believe (prophesy, do miracles, cast out demons etc. in His name) who will be saved but those who do the will of the Father. This is confirmed in Matthew 25 (31-46), "whatever you did to the least of my brethren you did to me." To do the will of the Father is to do works of charity without which faith avails nothing.
There is another normal requirement for a person to be saved as mentioned above. This is actually something done to the individual in Baptism when he is born of water and the Spirit (John 3:5). In Acts 3:38 we read that in order to be saved believers must also be baptised. There is not a lot of reference to the necessity of being baptised in his letters but St. Paul gives witness to those who are baptised into Christ and implies a necessity for all believers. And of course, it has been the continual teaching of the Church. The family of Cornelius in Acts 10 and the families of Lydia and Paulís jailer in Acts 16 were all baptised; again indicating the usual practice after one accepts belief in Jesus. In this way each is forgiven or washed clean of their sins (Acts 2:38, 22:16).
The family of Cornelius (Acts 10) received the gift of the Holy Spirit before ever being baptised. What if they died before being baptised would they still be saved? Of course they would. The Church has always taught that people in such circumstance receive Baptism by desire.
There is another circumstance where a person is saved when he or she has not had an opportunity to believe the Good News. I am not talking about the saints of the Old Testament times here freed by Jesus after His death. I mean the Holy Innocents who were killed when Herod arrogantly tried to kill the Messiah at Bethlehem after the birth of Jesus. In his unconscionable attempt to snuff out the life of the Saviour he killed all the children two years old and younger. Each of these children was killed in place of Jesus and is therefore a martyr. The kind of baptism we speak of here is a baptism of blood.
There is yet another possibility that puts forth that one can be saved by love. In I John 4:7 we read, "everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God." Again in chapter 4 verse 16 we read anyone who loves lives in God and God lives in that person. In other words the person is saved, that is, is one of the elect of God. How is this possible if it is a requirement to believe in the Good News of Jesus Christ and be baptised? This means of salvation is similar to how the saints of the Old Testament were saved. They were unable to receive the Good News because it had not been given yet but because they lived by the commandments given by God they were saved.
This understanding of salvation from the lives of the Old Testament saints can be extended to those who for whatever reason are unable to hear the Good News. For them the law of God is written on their conscience as St. Paul describes in Romans 2:14-16. They too can be saved by following their conscience and by their acts of love. Therefore, their baptism could be seen as a kind of baptism of desire. Nevertheless, even those who are among the elect because they follow their consciences, because of their love for God and others or because they were martyrs are saved only by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Redeemer. Jesus is the only Saviour of the human race Ė the Saviour of the world. This is true as with the saints of the Old Testament even though they had no conscious knowledge of Jesus while alive on earth. The love they lived in the world and their adherence to the law of conscience will cause them to be warmly welcomed when they come before the judgment seat of Christ.
There is another question that arises from the above point: if one can be saved without being baptised and confessing faith in Jesus why worry about preaching the Good News? There are two reasons for having a great motivation to preach the Good News to every creature. First, when one hears the Good News and believes, that person is liberated from the cares and worries and uncertainties of life and is able to have life and have it more abundantly. Knowledge of the love of God and of the means of salvation are gifts we should want to share with everyone. Secondly, to believe the Good News is a matter of greater faith and the greater oneís faith the more glory it brings to God who desires we come to him in the power of the Spirit through faith. Therefore we should all want everyone to share this faith in the fullness of truth for personal benefit and more importantly for the glory of God. I shall shortly take some time on the idea of the greater our faith the greater the glory we give to God.
Let me get back to a question I raised earlier, does one need to experience a profound conversion to be saved, does he need to speak in tongues, does he need to do miracles? The answer is no. God will save every person of sincere heart and works of love. To be a member of the body of Christ all that is necessary is to believe and be baptised. You will find nowhere in the Bible that states or implies that an experience is necessary.
We have had a look at the modern day Pentecostal movement and how it is spreading throughout the whole earth. I would now like to take a little time to trace the development of the understanding of Mary and the appreciation of all the teachings of the Catholic Church in the Charismatic Movement.
In the beginning many Catholic Pentecostals were confused about what they should believe after the great spiritual experience of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. I recall a prayer meeting I attended in 1971 where one member suggested saying a Hail Mary. There was overt protest from some of the members, the loudest of whom eventually left the Catholic Church for a Pentecostal Assembly. However, the priest who was a leader started making some confused statements about the doctrines of Mary not being defined. This priest, in fact, had a strong devotion to Mary and was later embarrassed about his statement. However, he never corrected the misconception but allowed the idea to stand that Mary did not have a place in the prayer meeting.
This exclusion of Mary and other Catholic devotions at prayer charismatic meetings at the time hurt many Catholics who initially believed that they could express the fullness of their Catholic Faith at the parish prayer meeting. Many of these have ceased to attend the meetings in disappointment after their wonderful experience of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. At the other extreme were many others who left the Catholic Church to form their own denomination or join an existing Pentecostal Assembly. This came with the pride I mentioned above that can accompany a conversion experience that leads to disillusionment with the Church but mostly because of a lack of openness to and understanding of Catholic teachings and devotions.
Nevertheless, God was at work to bring Mary and the fullness of Catholic doctrine into the charismatic renewal. This was not just to bring Catholic charismatics back but to pave the road for the rest of the Church to experience the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. In fact, one can trace how the Spirit has led the charismatic renewal from the bare basics of faith to the kind of fullness we have today. I believe Cardinal Suenens statement about closeness to Mary leading to closeness to the Holy Spirit was the beginning of this process. His statement was a prophetic one and as is often a characteristic of prophecy it led to some division within the flock. Some left.
In fact, I recall that three factions formed after Cardinal Suenensí proclamation; a small pro-openness to all Church teaching group, a small fundamentalist group uncomfortable with Mary's role and the majority avoided the controversy and followed whoever happened to be their leaders. This meant some went in the direction of fundamentalist minimalism while others deepened in the Catholic Faith.
I should point out that despite some difficulty about the role of Church teaching in charismatic prayer meeting the majority of people involved in the renewal were faithful to the teaching authority of the Church, in the persons of the pope, bishops and their priests. I can go further and say that most charismatic Catholics longed for recognition from the Church, and were ready to follow whatever directions the Church might give them. Perhaps Wilkerson's book The Vision was a wake up call to the leaders in the renewal. In any case, the determination on the part of the national and international leadership to remain firmly within the Church was exemplified in their having an international charismatic conference in Rome in 1975 and an international leaders' conference in Rome in 1981.
Contrary to Wilkerson's predictions the Church has not turned against the Catholic Charismatic renewal. Pope Paul VI placed the charismatic renewal under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1975. This was renewed by Pope John Paul II in 1981. John Paul II actually made his statement of placing the charismatic renewal under the protection of Mary on May 9, 1981 four days before the attempted assassination on his life on May 13th, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. This was also a turning point in the relationship between the charismatic renewal and the Virgin Mary.
This assassination attempt, I must add, became a turning point in God's plan that led Pope John Paul II to join with his bishops and the faithful throughout the world, on March 25, 1984, to consecrate the world and including Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Great, even unbelievable changes have followed this consecration. I should also point out that the messages of Our Lady of Fatima given in 1917 were fulfilled on the very day of the feast of Our Lady of Fatima in 1981 when she delivered the pope from the assassinís bullets.
What happened at that international charismatic leaders conference in Rome in 1981 that seems to show that God was taking decisive action to affirm Mary's patronage of the Catholic charismatic renewal happened behind the scenes of the conference. As note above, a priest from Yugoslavia was given assurance of Our Lady coming to his country. Since then millions of people have benefited from the apparitions and messages of Medjugorje. Many of the people encouraging the messages, reported to be coming from the Blessed Virgin Mary, were leaders in the Catholic charismatic renewal. As a result of this Mary was assisted by God in finding her proper place in the Catholic charismatic renewal and in renewal prayer meetings.
What has arisen since the beginning of these happenings at Medugorje was something we might refer to as the Marian conference movement. These conferences, initially Medugorje conferences, are an interesting intertwining of the lives and actions of charismatic as well as traditional Catholics. This powerful combination of God's people has led to further dynamic opportunities for individual conversions.
Despite this obvious intervention on the part of God to bring together his believing people in the fullness of their Catholic Faith, some still resist inviting Mary to bring her influence and protection into their prayer meetings. In order for us to overcome this resistance and better prepare us to bring more of the faithful into conversion, leaders need to take a stand. All faithful Catholics should be made to feel free to live their whole faith-life in the prayer community.
I can't promise leaders will be free of opposition at prayer meetings to important Catholic devotions, such as to Mary and the saints. There are at least two reasons for this, first, people tend to resist change and are sceptical about new ideas. Secondly, Satan's efforts are directed toward limiting and watering down the Truths of the Faith. He will try to make things uncomfortable for leaders who bring the fullness of the Catholic faith to the meetings. But if we resist the Devil he will flee (James 4:7) and we will have freedom to worship according to our Faith in our meetings.
Let me conclude this section by offering a warning and an encouragement to those of us in leadership in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. First, if we fail to bring Mary into our meetings we will languish and die since, her Spouse, the Holy Spirit, not finding her there, will likewise withdraw his presence as well. Secondly, Mary is an intricate and essential element in the faith-life of Catholics as she is a powerful intercessor for us. If we will have faith and call upon her help and protection at our meetings, she will see that we have the grace to continue to give glory to God. Furthermore, this fruitful Virgin will grant us an increase in numbers and fruits.