I am a Charismatic Catholic.
To me the term "Baptism in the Holy Spirit" is a term used by Catholic and other Charasmatics, and members of pentecostal and "Born Again" denominations to refer to an experience based period of prayer with a person for a release of the Holy Spirit into their life, and an outpouring of the "Gifts of the Holy Spirit", (Isaiah 11) the "Fruits of the Holy Spirit", (Gal 5)and the "Spiritual Gifts" (aka Charisms or Charismatic Gifts) (1 Cor 11).
There is often a strong emphasis in these groups on this third category: The "Charismatic Gifts" as described in 1 Cor. chapters 12 - 14.
I believe it is miss-named in that use. From a theological point of view: It is not a sacrament. it is praying for God to enter a persons life and bring them closer to God, but the power of the Holy Spirit. It is praying for Graces of the Holy spirit to manifest themselves to aid that deepening relationship, both for the person being prayed for, and (in the case of the Charismata) for the community around them.
It is an article of faith that "I believe in One baptism for the forgiveness of sins"
This prayer for outpouring of the spirit is not a baptism in a sacramental sense, and should not be called "baptism" to avoid confusion.
It is not the first time a person recieves the Holy Spirit. the Bible, and our Faith teaches us that we are cleansed of original sin, and marked with the seal of the Holy spirit when we are Baptised in Water. This is an action of the Holy Spirit. Jesus makes it quite Clear that we must be "Baptised by water and by Spirit" to have eternal life. but this is refering to sacramental baptism as is typified by the telling of Jesus own baptism, where the Spirit descends upon Him visibly.
Due to the use of Infant baptism, we have seperated out the Sacrament of Confirmation as a standard order of the Sacraments. It is in the sacrament of Confirmation that we "Receive the Holy Spirit" - Just as those in Samaria did in the telling in Acts.
rituals (lower case r) surrounding "Baptism in the Holy Spirit" may resemble on a superficial level the experience and manifestation of the Spirit as one might expect from this telling, however it is vital to realise that any such manifestations are the result of the release in a persons life of the Grace and Power of the Holy spirit which they already have inside them by virtue of those two previous sacraments.
another big differece: Baptism can only be recieved once. ditto with Confirmation. Being prayed with for a fresh outpouring of the Holy spirit in this manner is something a person can receive many times. It can become a part of periodical renewal. (However some people stop referring to subsequent events as baptism in the Holy Spirit)
That deals with what it is not let's deal with what I believe it is:
this is an outpouring of the power and grace of the Holy spirit. It is often a very "experiential" event. It is often linked to low-class mystical experiences: a tangible awareness of the presence and power of God, A sense of peace or release, manifestations of the Charismata etc... but this is not everyone's experience.
Another important point: In no way is this particular experience essential to our salvation. it is one form of spirituality among many (and a controversial one at that). Some people find it helpful in their journey towards God, others find the whole idea to be a big, Hyper-emotional turn off.
We charismatics must respect this and not try to ram our version of spirituality down the throats of those to whom God chooses to draw into other forms of spirituality. This is a key part of why our church is called "Catholic". that word means "Universal".
May I ask all posters to remain charitable in their responses to this topic. We don't want it banned in here as well (as it already is an many other parts of CAF).
There are many people who view the whole issue of the Charasmatic Renewal with grave suspicion (at best), or consider it to be inherently heretical and not the work of the Holy Spirit at all. I would simply point out that our Magisterium has not ruled in such a direction, and conversely has shown a strong level of unofficial support, including the approval of the constitutions of a large number of Lay Ecclesial Organisations which reference the charismatic renewal in their constitutions, and even approved new religious orders which are charismatic in their identities (one example would be the CFR). The Preacher to the Papal Household of Blessed Pope John Paul II was openly Charismatic, and is a leader of the movement... and our current pope took the highly unusual step of keeping him in the same position when he succeeded to the position. He has also praised charismatic movements publicly on a number of occasions.
All that said: Yes there are some prayer groups and communities that have gone off the rails, and not listened to the teachings of the church.... but the Charismatic movement is by no means unique in that.
Disclaimer: I have Checked the Stickies on this forum and it's parent forum and cannot find a moratorium on discussing the Charasmatic Movement on this section of the forum. I know such moratoria exist in other areas, and I apologise if I am breaking the rules here - that is not my intention.