Cultivating a Relationship with the Holy Spirit

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By Frank Vincentz – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Tomorrow’s gospel passage from John’s 14th chapter (for Monday, May 15) brings back a memory from years ago when my turn as “helper” with our RCIA group necessitated explaining the role of the Holy Spirit in our prayers lives to our candidates and catechumen. In John’s gospel, Jesus shares with his disciples:

“I have told you this while I am with you.
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit
whom the Father will send in my name—
he will teach you everything
and remind you of all that I told you.”

Trying to explain the Holy Spirit to a group who were largely unfamiliar with the Church’s teachings on the Trinity felt like trying to explain how wind works. For me, a “cradle Catholic”, the certainty of God’s daily and ongoing presence in my life was not something I had ever tried to analyze of “figure out”. I’m pretty certain I failed miserably that day in serving our inquirers. I should have done some additional homework, because a certainty of the Spirit’s ongoing presence in our lives is a beautiful gift, one that deserves to be cherished and cultivated.

Chapter Three of the Catechism of the Catholic Church provides a good starting point for learning what the Church teaches with respect to the Advocate. That chapter’s opening statement teaches us:

“No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” Now God’s Spirit, who reveals God, makes known to us Christ, his Word, his living Utterance, but the Spirit does not speak of himself. The Spirit who “has spoken through the prophets” makes us hear the Father’s Word, but we do not hear the Spirit himself. We know him only in the movement by which he reveals the Word to us and disposes us to welcome him in faith. The Spirit of truth who “unveils” Christ to us “will not speak on his own.” Such properly divine self-effacement explains why “the world cannot receive [him], because it neither sees him nor knows him,” while those who believe in Christ know the Spirit because he dwells with them.

So if we cannot “see” the Spirit, how might we begin to cultivate a relationship with the Holy Spirit, Christ’s Advocate in our life, who dwells within us? The Church provides a few ways that even non-theologians like me can prayerfully invoke the Spirit:

Prayerfully Pray the Sign of the Cross

When we reverently begin prayer, work or even relaxation (such as a family meal) with this form of prayer, we profess our belief in the Trinity and invite God’s presence into our life.

Learn the Prayer, “Come, Holy Spirit” (Veni, Sancte Spiritus)

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.

V. Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created.
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.
O God, Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise, and ever to rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Seek and Acknowledge Signs of the Holy Spirit Around Us

I’ve started making note of “Holy Spirit” sightings in my life… those moments when it’s clear that God is truly present in my life. In these moments when I feel the Spirit “dwelling within me”, I try to remember to pause my activity and to prayerfully acknowledge the Spirit in that very moment. When you begin this practice, “God sightings” come in surprising places and at unexpected times. One beautiful way to share our faith is to pause if we are with others and to simply and humbly acknowledge God’s goodness. We don’t have to give a twenty minute dissertation to let others catch the excitement of a “Spirit sighting”. It’s enough simply to verbally thank the Creator for sending His Advocate our way to smooth our path.

Make Note and Study of the Spirit in Scripture

John 14 is only one of the many places where the Holy Spirit is proclaimed in the Bible. Check out Matthew 12, Luke 24, and the Book of Acts for other places to learn about the Holy Spirit.

Know and Employ the Fruits and Gifts of the Holy Spirit

12 Fruits of the  Holy Spirit: 

charity, generosity, joy, gentleness, peace, faithfulness, patience, modesty, kindness, self-control, goodness, chastity

7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit:

wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety, fear of the Lord

In recent homilies, Pope Francis has been teaching us to keep our hearts open to the workings of the Holy Spirit and to receive the Spirit’s gifts with docility. He recently preached,

“The Spirit is the gift of God, of this God, our Father who always surprises us. The God of surprises… Why? Because He is a living God, who dwells in us, a God who moves our hearts, a God who is in the Church and walks with us and in this journey He surprises us. It is He who has the creativity to create the world, the creativity to create new thing every day. He is the God who surprises us.”

I may not understand all the doctrine, but as one who is continually surprised and delighted by the workings of the Spirit in her life, I invite you to take a deeper look at not only sighting but also praising the Advocate along your journey. You’ll find that the Spirit’s are gifts that keep on giving and fruits that will never fade!

A question for you: What is your favorite way to encounter the Holy Spirit in your life?

Copyright 2017 Lisa M. Hendey

Image credit: By Frank Vincentz – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

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About Author

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of CatholicMom.com and the bestselling author of the Chime Travelers children’s fiction series, The Grace of Yes, The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. As a board member and frequent host on KNXT Catholic Television, Lisa has produced and hosted multiple programs and has appeared on EWTN and CatholicTV. Hendey hosted “Catholic Moments” on Radio Maria and is the technology contributor for EWTN’s SonRise Morning Show. Lisa’s articles have appeared in Catholic Digest, National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor. Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and Catholic technology and communications topics. She was selected as an Elizabeth Egan Journalism Fellow, attended the Vatican Bloggers Meeting, the “Bishops and Bloggers” meeting and has written internationally on the work of Catholic Relief Services and Unbound. Hendey lives with her family in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Visit Lisa at www.LisaHendey.com for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish or organization.

5 Comments

  1. Lisa, I’m sure you can relate to this. My God-sightings are often during my most creative pursuits, especially my writing when I feel his presence and write something I KNOW does not come from me.
    Thanks for this post to encourage us all.

    • Absolutely Nancy! The number of times I wake up from a deep sleep with the perfect writing solution in my head are a clear testament to that. Thank you, Holy Spirit!!

  2. If you want to know more about the power of the Holy Spirit and how he can work in your life, I highly recommend Fr. Dave Pivanka’s The Wild Goose is Loose video series (www.thewildgooseisloose.com) It’s amazing!!! Also a great tool to help your child prepare for Confirmation

  3. So how about the Holy Spirit using an article on the Holy Spirit to reaffirm something about himself. Yep. That just happened. I have been experiencing some uncertainties and although I have seen so many signs in the world around me, I’ve been afraid to accept them as from God. I worry my enthusiasm for seeing signs – I usually get butterflies and purple roses – will cloud who they are truly meant to be interpreted (if at all). My Scripture reading has brought me again and again to passage regarding the Holy Spirit; and then this morning I ‘accidentally’ open this window? Hmmm coincidence or godcidence? I am going with the latter. Amen, I do believe – and it make sense that the God who made himself to be physical would not remain invisible.

  4. Debbie Kendrick on

    Thank you for your reflective writings on the person of the Holy Spirit. It appears that as we open ourselves to “welcome” Him, the awareness of His Presence increases. He is the One who prompts in us the cry, “Abba, Father. . . Papa, Daddy.” My imagination is not large enough to conceive of what a New Pentecost for the New Evangelization will look as we, the Church, wholly welcome Him.

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