Charismatic Renewal's first experience of Baptism in the Holy Spirit is, both historically and individually speaking, that of its being a surprise, a sovereign gift of God that is not dependent on any human merit or activity. This can be said both in reference to the historical beginnings of Catholic Charismatic Renewal and to the fact that Catholics involved in the Renewal have come to be baptised in the Spirit in very different ways: through being prayed for by others already baptised in the Spirit, during their own private prayer, through study groups, through praying the Scriptures, through discovering the testimonies of others.
Baptism in the Spirit is an unexpected grace, and so the Renewal does not have enrolled members. Instead, people are part of the Renewal through having been baptised in the Spirit, and because they subsequently affirm this grace and seek to be faithful to it. Any organisation, in for example a specific community or national structure, comes after this as way to support the fruitful reception of this grace. The gift is charismatic in a strict theological sense and not in a subjective, emotional sense.
Our faith has come alive, our believing has become a kind of knowing. Suddenly, the world of the supernatural has become more real than the natural. In brief, Jesus Christ is a real person to us, a real person who is our Lord and who is active in our lives. We read the New Testament as though it were literally true, now, every word, every line. Prayer and the sacraments have become truly our daily bread instead of practices which we recognise as "good for us". A love of Scripture, a love of the Church I never thought possible, a transformation of our relationships with others, a need and a power of witness beyond all expectation, have all become part of our lives. The initial experience of baptism in the Spirit was not at all emotional, but life has become suffused with calm, confidence, joy and peace.