And All Your Household
"It's all your fault for sending her to a Catholic school! "
"Don't tell me she's going to be a nun!"
"Why does Patti's roommate think she's crazy?" These were some of the comments exchanged by members of my family after that famous phone call during which I told them about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. In 1967, there were no books Mom and Dad could read, no tapes to listen to, no papal statements to assure them that their daughter was still sane.
I'm afraid I did very little to quell their fears as I described the tingling sensation in my hands, praying in unknown tongues, and being knocked over by the power of God while kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament. No wonder my family was lamenting the fact that this strange thing had to happen to one of their own!
Overnight, it seemed, I had become a different person.
My interests, ambitions, speech, dress and friendships changed. I had undergone a conversion experience and it touched every aspect of my life. Not all the changes were good. For example, I tended to isolate myself from family members and activities. Unwittingly, I was making it more difficult for them to respond in a positive way to my new walk with the Lord. Only as I matured in the Spirit did I learn how to witness to them with greater sensitivity. The desire of my heart was to share with my family the joy and peace I'd found in surrendering my life to Jesus. As I sought the Lord for wisdom, two inspirations came which proved to be very fruitful.
The first inspiration was to pray in a consistent, determined way for them. In 1968 I heard Ralph Martin share that he had set aside one day a week to intercede for his family. Encouraged by his example, I too began to pray and sacrifice every Thursday for my family, interceding that each of them might come to know the Lord in a personal way.
The second inspiration came as I was making a visit to the parish of my youth, Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Maplewood, New Jersey. There in an alcove, is a life-sized wooden statue of Mary seated with the Infant Jesus on her lap. She looks womanly yet strong, worthy of trust, able to care for all those entrusted to her. As I knelt at the altar I felt inspired to entrust every member of my family to Mary. As I did a deep peace came over me.
I love to think of Mary before the throne of her Son in constant intercession for the needs of all God's children. So often I feel my own prayer is limited because of distractions and lack of confidence. But Mary is not distracted. She doesn't grow weary and she doesn't forget. Her entire being has been yielded to proclaim the greatness of the Lord and to bring others to Him. As we entrust our lives and loved ones to Mary, she takes responsibility for us as she speaks to her Son. "They have no more wine," Mary said at Cana. In response to her words, Jesus performed a miracle there. He continues to honor her requests today.
So I prayed and Mary prayed. Within one year my two sisters and my mother were baptized in the Holy Spirit. I'll never forget the day my mother told me she wanted to be baptized in the Spirit. I was so thrilled I didn't know what to do or say! "Wait here, Mom, I'll get someone to talk to you," I blurted.
Five years passed. I continued to pray and sacrifice on Thursdays and entrust my family to Mary. As May 1973 approached, I felt led to ask my mother and sisters to join me in praying for my dad. During the month of May we agreed to pray the rosary daily for him. On May fourth a relative invited my dad to make a Life in the Spirit Seminar. Wonder of wonders, Dad agreed! We had invited Dad to a Seminar many times before and he had always refused. By God's providence, I was home in New Jersey the night he was prayed with for the Baptism of the Spirit. Dad later told us he smelled the distinct aroma of incense — a beautiful sign of the presence of God.
From my immediate family, only my brother was not yet baptized in the Spirit. Nine years passed. We continued to pray. In February, 1982, while my brother was jogging, the Lord Jesus appeared to him on the road with arms outstretched. "Come to me, Peter," Jesus beckoned. Peter said that as he began running toward Jesus, the vision faded but he continued to hear the Lord's voice. There on the road he surrendered his life to Jesus and was filled with the Holy Spirit. Imagine my joy when he called with the news! I was especially touched when I realized his encounter with the Lord took place on a Thursday (my regular day to intercede for my family), the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. No coincidence I'm sure. A week later he was prayed for with the laying on of hands. This was the 15th anniversary of my own Baptism in the Spirit. What a wonderful anniversary gift! How faithful our God is!
Remember the jailer in the Acts of the Apostles who asked what he must do to be saved? "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, and all your household" (Acts 16-31). When this one man came to the Lord, so did his entire family. I believe we can hope and pray for the same grace in our own lives.
from More of God by Patti Gallagher Mansfield pp. 82-85