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The Power of Your Personal Pentecost

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When I was a kid, my favorite cartoon was He-Man. Whenever danger was near, he thrust his sword into the air, yelled “I have the POWER!” and became the Master of the Universe. I thought that was the greatest thing ever. As I got older, this theme of “power” continually emerged in popular culture. The “power ballads” on MTV, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the Powerpuff Girls, Tim “The Toolman” Taylor’s thirst for “More power!”

As an eighth grader, I remember being told that Confirmation would be the moment when I would finally receive some power of my own: the power of the Spirit. What they didn’t tell me was that my introduction to power already occurred when I was baptized.

We typically associate Pentecost with Confirmation, and with good reason. As the Catechism says, “It is evident from its celebration that the effect of the sacrament of Confirmation is the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost” (CCC 1302). This sacrament “perpetuates the grace of Pentecost in the Church” (CCC 1288).

But, if we look at the Book of Acts’ account of Pentecost, we find this important day in the Church’s life was originally linked with Baptism: “Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, ‘Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus
whom you crucified.’ Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’ And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 2:14, 36-38).

This is relevant to us because Pentecost is not just linked with the 3,000 people who were baptized that day. Pentecost is linked with our Baptism, too. As Peter went on to say, “For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39). That “everyone” includes you.

When I was a Director of Religious Education preparing parents for their child’s Baptism, I always told them that Baptism is “Spirit Christmas.” Just look at everything you receive when you are baptized:
1. Entrance into the Family of God;
2. Membership in the Church that Jesus founded;
3. Access to all the rest of the sacraments;
4. The theological virtues of faith, hope and love;
5. Charisms that equip you to serve others and build up the Church;
6. The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit;
7. The forgiveness of all sins;
8. Initiation into Jesus’ three-fold office of Priest, Prophet and King; 9. An anointing on your chest that strengthens you for life in Christ;
10. An indelible mark on your soul that changes you forever.

Isn’t that amazing? Baptism is your first Pentecost.

Now, just imagine what the world would be like if every Catholic knew about the extraordinary giftedness of their Baptism. Just imagine if they—if you—lived according to that knowledge, persevering in faith, proclaiming the Gospel, defeating evil, healing the sick, defending the faith and representing Jesus.

This world would be on fire with the Spirit!

It all starts with knowing who you are and stepping into that reality. If you have been baptized, you are a priest, prophet and king. God equipped you for mighty things, and in the Spirit you are mighty. You have the power.

Nicholas Hardesty is the associate director of Adult Evangelization and RCIA for the Center for the New Evangelization. | [email protected]

This article appeared in the June 2023 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.

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