The last four articles I posted were about the Holy Spirit and Pentecost. So many other bloggers have spent a great deal of time talking about the Holy Spirit at this time of Pentecost. There is good reason for that. Pentecost itself is a Feast of the Church that is of major importance (along with Easter and Christmas), and the day the Church celebrates as its “birthday”. Pentecost is all about the Holy Spirit coming down upon the Apostles, Mary and other disciples. It brought a dramatic change to them, and should also bring a dramatic change to us. St. Cyril of Alexandria (born 376), in his Commentary on John says, “The Spirit changes those in whom he comes to dwell; he so transforms them that they begin to live a completely new kind of life”. This was definitely seen in the lives of the disciples. How about your life? Has the Holy Spirit caused you to live a new life?
First and foremost I believe that the Holy Spirit EMPOWERS us to be the person that God has called us to be. Both the Scriptures and the Church have tried to put words to what the Spirit does. We hear about the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit as well as the Spiritual Gifts of the Holy Spirit. I would like to briefly take a look at these to help us all better understand the role of the Spirit in our lives. Jesus himself told us that it would be better for us for Him to leave so that the Holy Spirit would come to us. That tells us how important the Spirit should be in our lives. Frankly, we don’t always think about the Holy Spirit. It should be thought about and called upon in our normal living, not just at Pentecost.
All of the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to us in Baptism and later strengthened and sealed in the Sacrament of Confirmation. The gifts are given to us to build us up as well as to build up the Church. The Church (and Isaiah 11: 1-2) tells us that there are seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. They are Wisdom, Understanding, Right Judgment (or Counsel), Courage (or Fortitude), Knowledge, Reverence (or Piety) and Wonder (or Awe). When we use these gifts, there is a definite change in our attitude and in our very being that manifests itself as the Fruits of the Holy Spirit. The scriptures (Galatians 5: 22-23) and the Church tell us that these Fruits are Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Generosity, Gentleness, Faithfulness, Modesty, Self-control, and Chastity. It is no coincidence that these Fruits are the very attributes of God himself. It only makes sense that as His children, we are like him.
In 1st Corinthians 12: 1-11 we find listed the Spiritual Gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are sometimes referred to as the Charismatic Gifts. These gifts are given for the building up of the Church. St. Paul makes it very clear that there are a variety of Gifts that are given. He says that some Gifts are given to some people and not all receive or use the same Gifts. He makes it very clear though that all of the Gifts are given by the One Spirit for the building up of the One Church. Throughout the ages, these Spiritual Gifts have manifested themselves in various ways. You only need to read some of the lives of the Saints to see how these gifts have come forth in various times. In today’s Church, the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church has brought in a new emphasis on these gifts. St. Paul lists these Gifts as, Speaking in Tongues for private prayer (Romans 8:26), Tongues and Interpretation for the Community (1 Cor 14: 1-17), Prophecy (1 Cor 14:32), Word of Knowledge, Word of Wisdom, Discerning of Spirits, Faith, Healing, and Miracles. For more information about these gifts, go to the National Catholic Charismatic website at http://www.nsc-chariscenter.org .
So how can we grow in our openness to the Holy Spirit and its Gifts? First of all, ask. It is so important that in our daily prayer life we ask to be open to the Spirit and the gifts It has to give us. Secondly, it is the Eucharist that can help us to be more open and to reflect the Fruits of the Spirit and the Gifts of the Spirit. Receive the Eucharist as often as you can. Thirdly, study the scriptures. It is the Holy Spirit that inspired the scriptures. Start by looking up and praying those scriptures I have mentioned in the article. Fourth, read the lives of the Saints. They lived out a real openness to the Spirit and its Gifts. Fifth, put yourself in to a small community of believers that are also trying to grow in their relationship to the Lord and His Spirit. If you haven’t already done so, try attending a Catholic Charismatic Prayer meeting. I would suggest one associated with your Parish, or a nearby Parish. It might seem a little different to you at first, but try it out a few times to see the real source of growth that can be found there.
God’s Gift to us of His Holy Spirit is so very precious and so important to our spiritual growth. It gives us life and helps us to grow into the child of God that He wants us to be. God bless you in your journey.