The Sanctifier, the Paraclete, the Finger of God, the Interior Master, the Gift of Gifts, the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, the bond of Love uniting the Father and the Son, the Helper, the Advocate, the Secret Friend, the Sweet Guest of the Soul—all of these are titles given to the Third Person of the most Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit.
As Saint Paul came to Ephesus on a missionary journey, he asked some of the people there if they had received the Holy Spirit. Their response could easily be seen in the light of our present situation with respect to a lack of knowledge of the faith in general, and a lack of knowledge of the Holy Spirit in particular: “We did not even know that there was a Holy Spirit.”(Acts 19: 1-7)
We have never lived in a world with so much information. However, at the same time, we have never lived in a world with so much widespread confusion—the effects of sin and the Tower of Babel!
Therefore, we would like to offer a short essay on how we can grow in our knowledge, love and friendship with the Holy Spirit, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls Him—“The Gift of Gifts!” Let us freely receive this Gift into the depths of our hearts, minds, souls, and understandings, and allow Him to permeate us with His Presence and take total possession of our lives. A gift can be freely received or freely rejected. Let us open our entire beings to receive this greatest Gift, God Himself!
Hopefully these short suggestions will be of great help to unite you more closely to the Holy Spirit. Be ready and willing to share the knowledge that you receive freely. If we have received freely then we should give freely! The following are ten short points or ideas to enhance your knowledge, love and docility to the Holy Spirit.
- Never allow a day to pass without saying at least a short PRAYER to the Holy Spirit. Here is a short one that can be memorized easily: “Come Holy Spirit, come through the Heart of Mary.” Say this prayer often and with great faith and love. Consequently, the Holy Spirit will be more active in your life.
- ACTS OF THE APOSTLES. Read through the book in the Bible that follows the Gospel of Saint John and is attributed to Saint Luke, the Acts of the Apostles. This book has been called “The Gospel of the Holy Spirit.” Be keenly observant of how many times the Holy Spirit is mentioned in this spiritual masterpiece. See also the different ways that the Holy Spirit works in the primitive Church. You might even underline with your pencil each time the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles. Allow the Holy Spirit to enter more fully into your life by meditating on the Word of God.
- Get into the habit of making NOVENAS. One of the most powerful novenas in the history of the world was precisely the novena in preparation for the coming of the Holy Spirit that first Pentecost. The Apostles prayed and fasted nine days and nights in union with the Blessed Virgin Mary. Then an extraordinary phenomenon occurred: wind and fire descended upon the heads of the Apostles, transforming them into fiery lovers of Jesus, ready to shed their blood for the sake of the His name! (Read Acts chapter 2)
- Get to know the various SYMBOLS that the Church has given to get to know the Holy Spirit better. The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives several of them: Fire, Cloud, the Dove. Wind, Water and Oil. Also, the Seal, a Finger, a Lamp. Symbols are physical realities that point to a more profound spiritual reality. (CCC 694-701)
- READING ON THE HOLY SPIRIT. One of the books that I highly recommend is In the School of the Holy Spirit written by Jacques Philippe. A short but superb masterpiece on the topic of the Holy Spirit, Philippe invites us to pursue the path of holiness by the simple path of being docile to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, wants to make us saints, if we will only allow Him to operate freely in our lives.
- THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. At the moment of Baptism we receive the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit; then the Sacrament of Confirmation fortifies these wonderful gifts. Get to know them; pray that they become more operative in your life. Your sanctification and salvation depends on this deep union with the Holy Spirit and His Gifts.
- THE SEVEN GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. If you are floundering in “no-man’s land” as to what the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are, the following is your cheat sheet. Try to memorize them: Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety and Fear of the Lord. According to Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor, Wisdom is the greatest of all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which can be defined as relishing the things of God. If you like, the Psalmist sums up the gift of Wisdom in these concise words: “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” (Psalm 34)
- FRUITS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. Traditionally the fruits of the Holy Spirit are twelve, even though Saint Thomas Aquinas says these are not all-inclusive. The following are the traditional twelve: charity ( or love), joy, peace, patience, benignity (or kindness), goodness, longanimity (or long suffering), mildness, faithfulness, modesty, continency (or self control), and chastity. Saint Thomas states that when we are corresponding to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and carrying out God’s will in our lives, then we experience this interior sweetness in our soul—these are the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
- RECOVERY OF THE PERSON OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. A moral tragedy could occur in our lives: falling into mortal sin! If you fall into the mud of mortal sin in your life, never give into despair but trust God all the more fully. By committing a mortal sin we willingly expel the Holy Spirit from our souls. However, the Good News is this: CONFESSION! By making a good sacramental confession to the priest, then not only does God’s grace return to your soul but also the Holy Spirit returns as the Sweet Guest of your soul!
- OUR LADY AND THE HOLY SPIRIT. Mary had the deepest and closest relationship to the Holy Spirit after Jesus Himself. The Immaculate Conception, in which Our Lady was preserved from the stain of Original Sin from the moment of her conception in her mother’s womb, was the work of the Holy Spirit. The Virginal Conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary was due to the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. The birthday of the Church on that first Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles in tongues of fire, came about in the presence of Our Lady. Her powerful prayers facilitated the coming of the Holy Spirit and the advent of the missionary Church. Our Lady has a deep and intimate relationship to the Blessed Trinity. She is the Daughter of God the Father, the Mother of God the Son and she is the Mystical Spouse of the Holy Spirit. For this reason Saint Louis de Montfort expresses in these words of great enthusiasm: “Those who love Mary, the Holy Spirit flings Himself into those souls.” May Our Lady attain for you a renewed Pentecost and powerful infusion of the Holy Spirit. “Come Holy Spirit, come through the Heart of Mary.
Father Ed Broom, OMV, is Associate Pastor of St. Peter Chanel Church in Hawaiian Gardens, California. He is a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary and was ordained by Saint John Paul II on May 25, 1986. Fr. Ed teaches Catholic Ignatian Marian Spirituality through articles, podcasts, a radio show, retreats and spiritual direction.