I will have to admit that I have struggled to relate to the Holy Spirit in a personal way, to grasp how to think about that last of the “three men I admire most, the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost.” We can know Jesus in a real human and tangible way. He left us his words in scripture. He thought us how to know and understand the profound love of the Father for each of us. He gave us his example and even his life. He built a Church to leave us with guidance and his true presence. But he sent us something more, someone I am just beginning to connect with more consciously. The Holy Spirit.
We know from Jesus that the Holy Spirit is part of the community of love that is the Trinity, whom we are made in the image of. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the love of the Father and the Son and is the pure expression of that shared love. We cannot see the Holy Spirit but we can experience him in that love and that experience can tell us something profound about who we are. It is the Holy Spirit who came to Mary in that pure love and “the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.” It is the Holy Spirt whom Jesus promised to send us, to be with us forever and to teach us and guide us in the fullness of truth. It is the Holy Spirt that fills us with grace, strength, fire and the gifts to build Christ’s Church and to share the faith through word and example. It has always struck me how these same apostles that were so frightened and unable to see could become so emboldened, courageous, free and gifted to become the foundation of Christ’s evangelizing church community – even willing to die confidently in the faith, once filled with the gifts of and the Holy Spirit himself.
So, how about us? How do we know what God wants us to do and if we are doing it? How do we know if we are filled with the Holy Spirit that guides us in the truth and leads us daily to God’s plan for us? St. Paul tells us that we can tell by the signs and fruits of the Holy Spirit if he is in us. "God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts"
We know that the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are:
Wisdom (the desire to judge and order the priorities in life through God’s eyes)
Understanding (the ability to grasp with certitude the very essence of God’s truth)
Counsel (ability to judge how best to act almost by intuition, perfected prudence)
Fortitude (the strength and courage to follow through on doing what is right)
Knowledge (the ability to see things in our life the way God see them, determining God’s purpose in our lives and to live them accordingly)
Piety (the willingness to worship and serve God through loving desire vs duty
Fear (the desire not to offend God out of love, knowing we will be given the strength to do so)
Paul tells us that we will know we are filled with the Holy Spirt and following God’s will (instead of our own) when we see the signs and fruits (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control) that come from these gifts. When we have an unconditional selfless love for the others, wanting the good for the other without a condition of return, it is a sign of the Holy Spirt. When we have a sense of joy and peace in our lives, and a desire to be generous and kind to others, we are filled with the Holy Spirit and on the right track. When we lean on God to have patience in a difficult period of our lives and have self-control over our desires that conflict with God’s loving plans for us, we are filled with the Holy Spirit. We cannot control the Holy Spirit but we do have the gift of free will to invite him into our lives through the simple prayer, “Come Holy Spirit.”
There are many things I believe I cannot do, but I have to remind myself that it is through the strength and grace God that I can do whatever God wants me to do – thinks that I would never image I could ever do alone. I am going to try to spend a little time every day with the Holy Spirit to see where it takes me during this Pentecost season.
The day of Pentecost came. The believers all gathered in one place. Suddenly a sound came from heaven. It was like a strong wind blowing. It filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw something that looked like tongues of fire. The flames separated and settled on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit. They began to speak in languages they had not known before. The Spirit gave them the ability to do this. – Acts 2