The descent of the Holy Spirit is critical to the life of the Church and so it is critical for the life of every Christian. As we left behind the Easter season, and as Christ ascends to the Father, He left the Holy Spirit for his followers. Christ chose not to publish a book or give a list of instructions as he ascended; He left His own Spirit to be with us. Two thousand years later we find that the Holy Spirit remains with us today, guiding and empowering the Church. Of course it is true that the Holy Spirit safeguards the Church from error, but God’s presence to each of us in the third Person of the Trinity is more dynamic than merely providing certainty concerning the Church’s teaching. How so?
Put simply, we really can’t be holy, can’t attain the freedom of holiness, on our own. Left to our own devices of reading spiritual books, receiving the grace of the sacraments, talking to really smart spiritual gurus, we will yet lack the guidance and support that we need. Following the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in each of our lives is vital for seeking Christ. These inspirations are not negotiable for a real spiritual life. One of my favorite authors, Fr. Jacque Phillipe, puts it like this: “Holiness is not the realization of a given model of perfection that is identical for everyone. It is the emergence of an absolutely unique reality that God alone knows, and that he alone brings to fruition. No individual knows what his own holiness consists of. Holiness is only revealed to us by degrees.”
In order for us to receive the next step in our journey toward this joyful existence, we have to be led. The guide in this journey is always the Holy Spirit, who gently and naturally speaks to our hearts and offers direction to us. These promptings are not monumental decisions (those require discernment and care), but everyday choices like what to eat, whom to speak with, how to do a task. The process of enlisting this help, too, is not a large thing—it is simple. Just ask! And act with confidence. Over time it becomes easier and one can grow past earlier mistakes, deepening understanding and faithfulness.
Finally, a wonderful prayer to help us be mindful of this ever-present Counselor is the following:
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, enkindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your spirit and they shall be created, and you shall renew the faith of the earth.
May the Holy Spirit make each of us a new creation so that we can more peacefully and creatively serve our Lord in His Holy Church.