Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) is one of the ecclesial movements recognised in the Catholic Church. Central to CCR (and every branch of Pentecostal Christianity) is a range of experiences commonly denoted as ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit’. Since the emergence of these movements in the mid-1960s it has become common to meet Catholics who claim to have received such an experience, so remarkable for them that it significantly and deeply renewed their lives and faith. In Indonesia, CCR has raised questions among non-CCR Catholics, particularly regarding ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit’, being ‘slain’ or ‘resting’ in the Spirit, and praying in tongues.
This study explores, articulates and analyses the meaning of this experience from the perspective of those within Persekutuan Doa Keluarga Katolik Indonesia (PDKKI), that is, the Indonesian Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the Archdiocese of Melbourne. In so doing, it engages this phenomenon from a Roman Catholic theological perspective. The research question for this study is thus: what is the phenomenological and theological meaning of ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit’? A twofold method is employed: within the Whiteheads’ threefold framework for theological reflection – attending, asserting, and pastoral response –Moustakas’ phenomenology is used to analyse interviews with ten volunteer members of PDKKI.
The thesis concludes that the essence or meaning of the experience of ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit’ for the participants is an affirmation or a connectedness with the reality of God. It argues that Catholics understand the significance of the experience differently from Pentecostals, though the range of opinion regarding ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit’ presents itself as bewildering. Catholic Bishops’ Conferences and theologians have suggested a range of other terms to clarify pastoral practice, in particular recognising its non-sacramental and sacramental dimensions.
This study uncovered a number of dimensions of ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit’: biblical / theological and experiential / phenomenological, along with sacramental, non-sacramental, pre-sacramental and at-sacramental senses. The phenomenological meaning of the experience for the participants was a connectedness with the reality of God. The theological meaning was the reception of the Holy Spirit that could occur before, during, or after sacramental initiation. This conclusion leads to a number of pastoral recommendations for the Indonesian Catholic context. Further research involving those who have exercised the role of praying over someone seeking the experience is also recommended.