The Church recently celebrated Pentecost, which is one of my favorite holy days of the year. Perhaps it’s because I was born around Pentecost, but the more likely reason is because I have a close relationship with the Holy Spirit.
I was in middle school when I decided I wanted to get serious about my faith. I had gone on a retreat, and when I came back, I desired to make some changes in my life. As a symbol of my break with culture, I took down all the Titanic posters in my room and I put up bible verses and pictures of Christian music bands. I started to read the bible and pray more, but I gotta tell you, the whole conversion thing was hard.
I joined a youth group prayer community, and spent my Friday nights at a Church praying with others who also wanted to grow in their faith. I learned a lot at those meetings and with the help of others, I was growing in my faith and getting closer to God. But it was a process and it was a struggle. Then, something happened that changed my prayer life forever.
We had been going through the Life in the Spirit seminars and learning about the role of the Holy Spirit. I remember the night that a few others prayed with me. With my hands outstretched, I asked to receive the Holy Spirit in a new way and for the Holy Spirit to breathe new life into me. I cried a lot of tears that night in a way that one could call it “the gift of tears.” From that moment on, Mass started to come alive for me and Scripture spoke deep into my heart. I cry every time I go to Confession out of sincere sorrow for my sins, I cry at Masses where I am deeply moved, and I have a greater sensitivity to spiritual movements within my soul.
It was after that first time praying for the Spirit that I was really able to move forward in my spiritual life, and make bigger breaks with the sins and worldly desires that were holding me back. The Holy Spirit has changed me and given me a life so much greater than I what I imagined for myself. I was a lonely, shy little girl who became an evangelist, retreat leader, and public speaker. Now, it’s not that I don’t struggle to pray or to live out the faith anymore, but I know in those times to call on the Holy Spirit to help.
In the readings for this past Pentecost, Jesus breathed on his apostles and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” They did, but they still didn’t get it. They were still in hiding until the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon them as a strong wind and as tongues of fire. Like us, the disciples had received the Holy Spirit in Baptism, but it wasn’t really activated in them yet. It was only after Pentecost that they had the boldness to live their faith in a new way.
Sometimes I think about how different the Church would be if we all had a strong relationship with the Holy Spirit. What if we were all living with that boldness for the Gospel?
Now think about yourself. Are you struggling to make a commitment to Mass each Sunday? Are you having a hard time accepting Church teaching on birth control, homosexuality, pornography? Are you trying to pray but just feel like God isn’t there? Wherever you feel stuck in your faith, the Holy Spirit can help you out. Here is a prayer you can pray:
Jesus, I thank you for sending your Spirit to me that I might have the power to live this new life with you.
Stir up your Spirit in me.
Release your Spirit in me.
Baptize me with the fullness of your Spirit
-that I may experience your presence and power in my life
-that I may find new meaning in your Scriptures
-that I may find new meaning in the Sacraments
-that I may find delight and comfort in prayer
-that I may be able to love as you love and forgive as you forgive
-that I may discover and use the gifts you give me for the life of the Church
-that I may experience the peace and the joy that you have promised us.
Fill me with your Spirit, Jesus. I wish to receive all that you have to give me. Amen.