As I mentioned last week, I recently got an inhaler.
It was a game changer for me because my whole life I just thought I was bad at physical fitness. In grade school, I was a straight A student except for gym class. As an adult, when I would try to run or work out, after about 5 minutes my lungs were on fire and all I could think about was stopping. Turns out I have asthma. Then I got my inhaler, and after 5 minutes on the treadmill I wanted to keep on going. My lungs filled with air, and it felt so good to be able to breathe again and give my body the exercise it needed. Before, I could maybe push through to a 20 minute workout, but that was my max because it was so hard to even get to that point. With a puff of an inhaler it made it easier to get to there.
I realized while watching this free bible study series on the Holy Spirit that during my turmoil last year I not only had asthma, I also had spiritual asthma. The series is called The Wild Goose, presented by Fr. Dave Pivonka, who is a priest that I really admire and respect. The second episode on the Holy Spirit as the Breath of God really moved me to see how dry my prayer had become.
When I got serious about my faith in High School, I had a really good relationship with the Holy Spirit. He animated my prayer, my desire to read scripture, my passion for evangelization. Along the way, that relationship grew distant. Then last year, there were times when it became hard to pray or to hear God’s voice in my life. After 5 minutes of praying, it seemed easier to give up. I felt like I always had to push through until all I could think about was stopping.
But the Holy Spirit is now like my inhaler! He is a breath of fresh air that fills up my spiritual life, which is appropriate because the Hebrew word for Spirit, ruah, is the same root word for wind and breath as well. When we are feeling dry, burnt out, or defeated, the Spirit can breathe new life into us. It’s the Spirit who enlivens our prayer life.
During this Easter season it’s timely to watch Fr. Dave reflect in the video about the disciples locked in the upper room in fear. He says, “the spiritual life is never supposed to be lived in a locked room.” How many times does our prayer life become trapped, dry, or stagnant? Sometimes we keep trying to work at get nowhere. We can even make it harder than it has to be. We think there has to be something more! And there is, because we can’t do it on our own.
When the disciples were locked in a room, filled with despair after Jesus’ death, Jesus appeared to them, breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:22)
When the disciples were again locked in a room, filled with fear of persecution, there came a driving wind and they were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1)
The Breath of Life, the Giver of Life, changed the apostles from despair to hope and from fear to courage.
That same Spirit is alive in us today. As we say in marriage prep, “since Baptism, the Holy Spirit is activated in you!” What a powerful verb to reflect on! How often I forget that it’s the Holy Spirit who gives me the divine life of grace through the Sacraments and turns me into a living tabernacle to receive the presence of God!
So, how can the Spirit change your spiritual life today?
-Are you constantly worried about the next mortgage payment, or if you will be laid off at your job? Breathe in me, Holy Spirit.
“The Holy Spirit is the master of the interior life” CCC1995
-Are you living in fear of sharing your faith because you worry about what your in-laws or your friends will think? Speak through me, Holy Spirit.
“No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.”1 Corinthians 12:3
-Are you just too tired of chasing after your kids all day that you have no energy to pray? Come, Holy Spirit.
“The Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.”
– Are you stuck in a pattern of sin that you can’t be freed from? Help me, Holy Spirit.
“How much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” Luke 11:13
-Don’t know where to start to get your prayer life off the ground? Teach me, Holy Spirit.
“The sacred humanity of Jesus is therefore the way by which the Holy Spirit teaches us to pray to God our Father.” CCC 2664