I once heard this: “Without the Holy Spirit, the Good News is not actually good news.” Whoa. I like that quote. It opened my inner eyes to see just how much I need the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, to be active in my life. Without the Holy Spirit, it becomes impossible to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Of course, Jesus knows this, which is why he ascended into Heaven after his resurrection. There are several quotes from the Gospels, especially from the Gospel of John, where we see Jesus talking about the Holy Spirit – too many to list them all – but he basically tells his disciples, ‘If I don’t go back to Heaven, then the Spirit can’t come. And the Spirit is going to guide you along the way. So I have to go.’
In fact, Jesus did ascend into Heaven and the Holy Spirit was sent upon the disciples. The second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles speaks directly about this:
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. Acts 2:1-4
We still celebrate Pentecost fifty days after Easter Sunday every year, but I wonder how much we actually ask God the Father for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I wonder how much we actually prepare for the day of Pentecost. I wonder whether we actually anticipate the Holy Spirit stirring in our hearts like never before. Let’s resolve to prepare in a new way this year and ask the Father for a new Pentecost. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to kindle in us the fire of his divine Love.
There is so much we could write about the Holy Spirit, but for the next week and a half I’m going to focus on some of the gifts the Holy Spirit can give us if we are well-prepared to receive them. The Book of the Prophet Isaiah speaks about these gifts:
The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and strength, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. Isaiah 11:2
Some other translations of this passage provide a seventh gift, piety, so we’ll add that to our list, too. These gifts make us free to live entirely for the Lord through prayer and activity. I’ll explain each one with an individual post (they will all be shorter than this one, I promise!), but first allow me to explain a bit about how we can prepare ourselves to receive them in a general sort of way. For this task, I’ll turn to spiritual master, Adolphe Tanquerey. He provides seven tips for us to follow as we prepare ourselves to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit:
- Remain in a state of grace. There are some actions that completely cut us off from the Lord’s grace. We want to avoid those actions if we’re going to be actively preparing for a new Pentecost in our lives. We need to remain close to the Lord if we want to receive the fullness of his gifts!
- Combat the passions of the ‘flesh’. We were created by the Lord, with the cooperation of our parents, with a body-soul combo package. Our souls desire God’s goodness, but our bodies tend to desire pleasure more than anything (see: Romans 7:15). Our bodies would much rather stay in bed for ‘five more minutes’ than rise at the first sound of the alarm clock. Our bodies would much rather go for a second dessert than pass on one completely. This isn’t to say all worldly pleasures are bad; however, it is to say that sometimes it’s better to deny ourselves something good because we know something better is coming up. Combating our passions will allow us the discipline and openness to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
- Live virtuously. We cannot ascend to the heights of contemplation if we are not first rooted in virtue. We must learn habits of meekness, patience, humility, obedience, chastity, etc. before we can be free to receive the gifts of the Spirit.
- Live the Gospel. It’s important to read the Gospel, meditate on the words and actions of Jesus, and strive to imitate him as best we can. Our world and culture loves the message of compromise, telling us that we can claim to be Christian while at the same time indulging in this sin or that. We must reject the spirit of compromise and wholeheartedly embrace the Gospel of our Savior!
- Think of God as often as possible. We have to remember that God is with us always, that he lives within us by virtue of our Baptism. Take moments frequently throughout the day to enter the chapel of your baptized soul and recall his Presence with you.
- Always obey inspirations from prayer. The Holy Spirit is going to demand sacrifices (for more on this, look to the Cross!), so we must be prepared to respond promptly and generously when we hear his voice. We must never deliberately resist his inspirations.
- Pray! Ask for Divine assistance! We must go out to meet our Lord! Before every action and every word, pray: Come, Holy Spirit! Holy Spirit, come to my aid! Breathe on me, O Breath of God!
Begin preparing for the Holy Spirit to enter your life like never before. These seven tips provide an excellent game plan. They provide a good structure for the Holy Spirit to move through with ease and they will provide a good opportunity for the Gospel to become Good News for all who believe.