Monday, July 18, 2011

The Action of the Holy Spirit

If you follow the 1962 liturgical calendar you know that we just celebrated the fifth Sunday after Pentecost. I like to think of this part of the Church year as the time of the Holy Spirit because the "after Pentecost" always reminds me that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit for a reason - to give the apostles and disciples the seven gifts to spread the good news of Christ, and that is what all of us are supposed to be doing today.

The length of time after Pentecost is the longest season of the liturgical year, the time when also we contemplate the Holy Spirit working in the baptized and confirmed person to bring the soul to oneness with God, following the example of Jesus.

Surrender of our will is essential to the action of the Holy Spirit in us, yet our human weakness resists mightily. Like two year olds, we want what we want when we want it and the way we want it. When the Spirit meets this kind of resistance in our hearts, He desists from the work of our sanctification because He will not do violence to our liberty. He is the Spirit of love, desiring that we participate lovingly in His work. To receive His graces we must yield willingly. It matters not what our feelings are - overcoming reluctance, resistance, fear, anger, and other negative emotions is all about our will. We may feel abhorrence in giving up pleasures and certain habits we are accustomed to, but our will to do it under the guidance of the Holy Spirit is true love of God and opens our souls to even greater graces.

Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, O.C.D. writes in Divine Intimacy:

By giving us grace, without which we could have done nothing to attain sanctity, the Holy Spirit inaugurated His work in us: He elevated us to the supernatural state. Grace comes from God; it is a gift from all three Persons of the Blessed Trinity: a gift created by the Father, merited by the Son in consequence of His Incarnation, Passion, and death, and diffused in our souls by the Holy Spirit. But it is to the latter, to the Spirit of love, that the work of our sanctification is attributed in a very special manner. When we were baptized we were justified "in t he name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit"; nevertheless, Sacred Scripture particularly attributes this work of regeneration and divine filiation to the Holy Spirit.

We can only walk the narrow path to sanctity by the grace of God. In this time of the Holy Spirit, it makes sense to think deeply about being a saint - being what we were created to be. Some questions that demand honest answers regarding the action of the Holy Spirit in us are:

What am I attached to that is keeping me from growing in being Christlike?

Do I spend time in prayer every day?

With what disposition do I assist at Mass? Is it just something I do to "get it over with so I can do what I want to do"? Am I seeking a greater understanding of the meaning of the Mass?

Do I seek an ever deeper understanding of the teachings of the Church and think about why God wants me to live according to them?

What am I lying to myself about in how I am living my life?

What kind of books am I reading, TV shows do I watch, movies do I see? Do they make me desire the salvation of souls, including my own? Do they bring joy and true relaxation, inspiration and peace to my heart or do they aid in enslavement to sin?

Do the people I associate with lead me into sin?

What kind things am I doing for others in my life?

What penances and sacrifices do I make to train my will and please God?

Am I willing to surrender even my life with a generous heart if God asks for it?

Some of these questions are downright scary to think about, but answered honestly can open our hearts to let the Holy Spirit have freer reign in us, if we so will.

Until the end of the world, we are in the time of the Holy Spirit. Let's all submit our wills to the action of the Holy Spirit every day in every little way that we can so that this world will be a better place to live, we may save our souls, and many more saints will be raised up to glorify God.


  1. Hi Barbara, your post is thought provoking and my first thought after I read "do I spend time in prayer daily?" was "does blogging count?" I do read many wonderful prayers but I know I'm not in prayer and spending quiet time, in stillness, praying and praising Our Lord.

  2. Barb,
    Great post. I love Divine Intimacy. I bought it several years ago and I still go back to it every now and then.
    Thanks and God bless.

  3. Beautiful post, Barb. My spiritual director used to always tell me that the Holy Spirit is gentle. I like that image and I find it to be true. God bless.

  4. Noreen, I would say that reading prayers on blogs is a form of prayer, especially if the prayer prompts us to reflection. If we are writing a post on something spiritual, musing on God and His works, the writing we do comes out of the thinking on God. Even making a resolution to do something because we have been moved by something we read is a prayer, because prayer is lifting our minds and hearts to God. The lover thinks of his beloved many times every day, and seeks to please. To me, this is all prayer.

    Karinann, Divine Intimacy is one of the best meditation books I've found. It follows the traditional form of meditation practiced by St. Teresa of Avila. I got my book about 12 years ago and have recently returned to digging into the various meditations to help me appreciate the Holy Spirit more since I am very weak in this area.

    Colleen, yes, the Holy Spirit is gentle and quiet. That's why we can't hear Him if we're surrounded by worldly racket. God is never cruel to us, although we sometimes suffer cruelly. He just has to purify us so we can get to heaven.

  5. That list of questions is like an examination of conscience. Wow!

    IMNSHO, one of the greatest perils of modern life is the noise and distraction, the fear of stillness and silence, that allows us to hear the Spirit. When people fill every second with ipods and other stimuli, how can you ever learn to live in the presence of God? I'm particularly sensitized to this b/c I"m in that "noise & distraction" phase of parenthood, and opportunities for reflection by still waters are few and far beetween.