The Sanctifier, Sweet Guest of the Soul, Interior Master of Prayer, the Consoler and Counselor, Intimate Friend, Paraclete, Advocate, Soul of the Church, Uncreated Bond of Love between Father and Son—all of these express titles or names for the Third Person of the most Blessed Trinity: The Holy Spirit.
STARTS WITH BAPTISM. From the moment we received the unmerited and gratuitous gift from God, the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, we received with this Sacrament countless graces and blessings. One of the most sublime and extraordinary gifts was “The Gift of Gifts” (CCC), the Holy Spirit. In that moment the Holy Spirit became the Divine Guest of the soul bringing with His Presence the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety, and Fear of the Lord.
HEAVENLY INSPIRATIONS. If we maintain our soul in the state of sanctifying grace, the Holy Spirit works in the depths of our being in a very special way. Heavenly inspirations from on high become more and more frequent depending on one condition: our DOCILITY, yes, DOCILITY to these heavenly inspirations. If we are humble, attentive, docile, and receptive to carrying them out, then the Holy Spirit works quietly but very powerfully in our soul and we experience in the depths of our soul an interior sweetness; these are the fruits of the Holy Spirit. By collaborating with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, we experience these fruits of the Holy Spirit: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity. (cf CCC #1832) In a word, our holiness and sanctification depends in large part on allowing the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, to work more freely, openly, and powerfully in our conversion, transformation, and sanctification.
FREQUENT INSPIRATIONS FROM THE HOLY SPIRIT AND DOCILITY. In this short essay we would like to highlight certain inspirations that come from the Holy Spirit, the Sweet Guest of our soul, and the great importance of recognizing them and responding to them. May Our Lady, the Mystical Spouse of the Holy Spirit, come to our aid and pray for us so that the workings of the Holy Spirit in our lives will not be frustrated but brought to a full development. “Come Holy Spirit, come through the Heart of Mary.” Mary, at all times, in all places, and in all circumstances, was totally and unreservedly open to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, and without doubt, through her powerful intercession she can help us to be more docile and responsive to the graces and inspirations from on high!
1. GO TO CONFESSION!!! If we have had the misfortune and disgrace to have fallen into Mortal Sin and lost sanctifying grace, then most assuredly the Holy Spirit will send inspirations to bring us back to God by means of a well-prepared, well-expressed, humble and contrite Sacramental Confession. Most surely, the Holy Spirit wants us to be restored to grace, but He respects our free-will!
2. OPEN OUR HEARTS TO PRAYER. One of the titles mentioned above describing the work of the Holy Spirit is that of “Interior Master of the Soul”. This title means that the Holy Spirit wants to teach us how to communicate with God through prayer. For most of us, prayer is often a struggle and we might even say that we do not really know how to pray. Saint Paul in the Letter to the Romans responds to this quandary and struggle in our spiritual life with these words: “We do not know how to pray, but the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with ineffable groans so that we can say, Abba, Father.” (Rom 8:15,26)
3. GO DEEPER AND LONGER INTO THE INFINITE OCEAN OF PRAYER. Not only will the Holy Spirit gently but insistently invite us to pray through His holy inspirations, but He will challenge us to both pray more and at greater length, as well as to go deeper in our prayer. Prayer can be compared to the ocean. We can walk along the seashore and allow the waves to barely graze our feet or we can go out into the deep, drop the anchor, and the sea seems to be a bottomless abyss. So it is in our relationship with God; He is infinite and so can our prayer become better and better, deeper and deeper!
4. SEEK ADVICE. At times, when we find ourselves in a state of both desolation and confusion, the Holy Spirit might nudge us to seek help, to seek advice, to seek counsel and direction through a human medium or intermediary and this would be a spiritual director. Saint John of the Cross states wryly: “He who has himself as director, has an idiot as a disciple.” Put bluntly, we cannot adequately direct ourselves because we all have many BLIND-SPOTS in our spiritual journey!
5. PUSH TO PRACTICE PERSISTENT PRAYER AND PENANCE. It is impossible to be under the guidance and influence of the Holy Spirit and not have nudges, gentle pushes, interior lights and inspirations towards the practice of penance. In very clear and unequivocal terms Jesus asserted: “Anyone who wishes to be my follower must renounce himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mt 16:24) In so many words the great woman Mystic and Doctor of the Church, Saint Teresa of Avila, states that prayer and a life of indulgence and sensuality are diametrically opposed. They are like oil and vinegar—they simply do not mix!
6. READ, REFLECT, REASON, AND RUN TO GOD. Often the Holy Spirit will challenge us to slow down in our active and frenetic life characterized by the spirit of the day called ACTIVISM. The Holy Spirit sometimes nudges us to slow down, to stop, to take up a good spiritual book and start to read the text slowly, to reflect seriously upon it, as Mary did when she pondered in her Immaculate Heart; then to reason to its deeper meaning and run to God as a most sure haven and source of refuge. “Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.” (Ps 124:8)
7. HUMBLE YOURSELF AND RECONCILE, MAKING PEACE. In no uncertain terms Jesus commands us to strive to be at peace with our brothers and sisters. So much so that Jesus says if you are about to present your gift at the altar and recall that your brother has something against you, leave the gift, go and reconcile with your brother and then come back to offer the gift. (Mt 5: 23-24) This can be interpreted in the light of Holy Mass, our offering, and Holy Communion. In other words, the Holy Spirit cannot work powerfully and efficaciously in a heart that is proud, resentful, bitter, and angry! Jesus said that He is meek and humble of heart (Mt 11:28-30) and challenges us to be the same!
8. WALK THE EXTRA MILE: EVEN WHEN YOU DO NOT FEEL LIKE IT! Once again related to the topic or theme of sacrifice, often the Holy Spirit will challenge us by His heavenly inspirations to walk the extra mile and keep moving onward in some task, work, or activity when we are tired, maybe even exhausted. However, if we correspond with docility and generosity to the inspiration, His grace and strength will never be lacking. Jesus said to the great Apostle Saint Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9) The Holy Spirit will never inspire in your mind and heart a proposal that He will not give you sufficient grace to carry out! Our prayer must be: “HOLY SPIRIT, I TRUST IN YOUR POWER, PRESENCE, AND PATIENCE AT WORK IN ME!”
9. GET UP EARLIER, EAT LESS, PRAY MORE, WORK HARDER, CARRY THE CROSS TRUSTINGLY, AND OVERFLOW WITH JOY! If you read through the lives of the saints, who are the spiritual masterpieces of God, in the words of Saint Pope John XXIII you will notice the following characteristics of many. They spend less time in bed, and they don’t spend too much time at the table chowing down. They give more time to prayer, then work hard and efficaciously without complaint. They have many crosses, and I say many crosses. However, in the midst of all these apparent hardships and trials, they are overflowing with peace and joy and happiness! This is obviously the working of the Holy Spirit!!! Test yourself in these areas; how do you rate???
10. INSPIRATION TO TALK TO, DRAW CLOSE TO, AND CONFIDE IN HIS MYSTICAL SPOUSE—THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY!!! The Blessed Virgin Mary is the Daughter of God the Father, the Mother of God the Son, and the Mystical Spouse of the Holy Spirit. This being the case, the Holy Spirit will often inspire you to open up your heart and talk to Mary about your life, your feelings, your struggles and battles, your failures and victories, your hopes and your dreams! Saint Louis de Montfort in his spiritual classic True Devotion to Mary states: “Those who love Mary, the Holy Spirit flings Himself into their souls.”
In conclusion, our conversion, sanctification, transformation, and perseverance in grace depends in large part upon our relationship to the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier. Holiness depends on being docile to the Heavenly inspirations of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, starting right now, let us all make a firm decision and commitment to be more docile and attentive to the inner workings and inspirations of the Holy Spirit in our lives. “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” (Psalm 95:7-8) May our prayer be a Marian prayer connecting us to the Holy Spirit: “Come Holy Spirit, come through the Heart of Mary.”