I am glad to share with you a beautiful moment from prayer. Jesus showed me how He is able to make me holy, by both an image and a work in me. I am confident that He wants to show His goodness to you as well!!
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.
St. Faustina, being a member of a religious order, typically had many opportunities to pray throughout the day, and many of these times of prayer led to profound encounters and conversations with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Once, though, she was allowed to visit her dying mother back at home and while there she was overburdened by so many family and friends who wanted to visit with her. Her time for prayer greatly diminished because she was so busy tending to her family needs. She tried several times during her time at home to sneak away for some conversation with the Lord, but each time her family demanded her attention. After her return to the convent, she wrote this in her diary:
“When I entered the chapel to say goodnight to the Lord before retiring, and apologized for having talked so little to Him when I was at home, I heard a voice within my soul, I am very pleased that you had not been talking with Me, but were making My goodness known to souls and rousing them to love me.“
A few things to point out from this brief entry:
– St. Faustina was too busy to spend her preferred amount of time in prayer. The Lord saw her busyness and he understood. In fact, not only did he understand, but he was pleased that she didn’t avoid her duty so that she could pray. It was more important for St. Faustina to be attentive to the demands of her family than to spend huge amounts of time in prayer. Being attentive to her family was transformed into a type of prayer to the Lord.
– She still took time to pray. The first line: “When I entered the chapel…” Yes, she was very busy, but she still took time to pray. While she was home, she doesn’t apologize for NOT talking to the Lord, but for talking so little to him. She spoke to the Lord every day.
– She made the Lord’s goodness known and she roused her family to love him. While performing her duty, she helped others know the glory of God.
These three things may be helpful to anyone who struggles to find time to pray in the midst of a busy world, one which tends to place too many burdens on our shoulders. These three things will help the overburdened Christian discover that the Lord takes pleasure in our efforts to love him:
1. Always perform your duty with diligence, even if it means spending less than the preferred amount of time with the Lord.
2. Take time to pray everyday. Finding time is difficult; taking time is less difficult. Begin or finish the day with prayer and speak to the Lord for brief periods of time throughout the day.
3. While performing your duty, reveal to others the glory of God. Rouse others to love him more, simply by the way you attend to their needs.
How are the Lenten resolutions going? I know I’ve failed already with a couple of mine. The good news is that Lent is a pretty long season and it’s never too late to commit to drawing closer to the Lord by way of those practices chosen at the beginning of the season. Each day, each week is something of a fresh start to the season. Here are a couple of tips I’d like to offer:
Words are cheap. I can resolve to do a lot of things and then either give up on them or forget them faster than they come to me. When I make a resolution, it’s best to write it down AND tell someone about it. Why?
– There’s something about writing things down that aid the memory to remember. What’s more, it can be very helpful to write your resolution down a few times and leave yourself notes: near the bathroom sink, on your bedside table, on the fridge, on the computer/TV, etc. If you really want this resolution to last, these notes will help you remember what tasks you’ve undertaken.
– There’s also something to the idea of someone holding me accountable. There are a few guys I hang out with frequently and we talk about how life is going. Throughout the week, I remember that I’m going to have to give an account of my life to these men, whether I’m being a man of integrity or otherwise. Since I want to be a man of integrity, this accountability motivates me to stick to my resolutions.
– Finally, there’s a way that is the best of both worlds – in fact, it’s even better that both of the two options: write down your resolutions as a prayer to the Lord. For example: “Lord, I will not complain about the weather.” “Jesus, I will not place before my eyes any images that might tempt me to sin against purity.” “Lord, I will pray for X minutes everyday.” “Father, I will always give you thanks for the food on the table, no matter how bad I think it tastes.” “Holy Spirit, I will always pray for the person who seems to suddenly pop into my mind.” After you’ve written down your prayer, finish with, “Lord, help me remember this prayer each time a situation relating to it comes into my life.” These prayers will help you remember your resolutions and they will motivate you to live a life of integrity before the Lord, who sees everything and is always with you.
In summary, three good ways to make resolutions that stick: Write them down. Tell other people about them. Write them out as prayers to the Lord. Doing these three things will help you live in the freedom of your own convictions, even if you seem to lose those convictions from time to time.
God is bigger than the biggest. God is smarter than the smartest. God is more lovely than the lovliest. God is more powerful than the most powerful. God is more forgiving than the most forgiving. God is more. And He is our God. And He knows us each by name. OVERWHELMING!!! Close your door; turn off your lights; dance with arms lifted high. Sing unto HIM!!!