Tuesday, October 13, 2015

How the Holy Spirit Speaks to Us

  The gift of the Holy Spirit is given to those who are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son (Jesus) and of the Holy Spirit. 
Full authority has been given to me (Jesus) both in heaven and on earth; go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations.  Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Matthew 28:18-20

Jesus said:

If you love me and obey the commands I give you, I will ask the Father and He will give you another Paraclete— to be with you always: The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, since it neither sees him nor recognizes him; but you can recognize him because he remains with you and will be within you.
John 14:15-17

He is also given to those who believe in Jesus, have accepted Him as their Lord and Savior, and have been prayed with to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the Word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. The two went down to these people and prayed that they might receive the Holy Spirit. It had not as yet come down upon any of them since they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  Acts 8:15-16

   The voice of the Holy Spirit is one of God’s ways of speaking personally to us.

         The Lord will give you the bread you need
           and the water for which you thirst.
           No longer will your Teacher hide himself,
           but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher,
          While from behind, a voice shall sound in your ears:
            “This is the way; walk in it,”
                when you would turn to the right or to the left.  Isaiah 30:20-21.
  The Holy Spirit does not usually speak in an audible voice.  It’s more like an inaudible voice in your mind, similar to your conscience.

Then the Lord Said, “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord will be passing by,” A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the Lord—but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake—but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire—but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave. 1 Kings 19:11-13

  The Holy Spirit speaks through inner promptings—sometimes to say or do something; other times words of wisdom, comfort or guidance. The Holy Spirit may bring a passage from the Bible to your mind. (This is one good reason for reading the Bible regularly; the Holy Spirit cannot bring any Bible passages to mind that you have never read or heard!)

  Sometimes the Holy Spirit will speak to you through the circumstances of your life: meeting someone, someone mentioning a job opportunity, just “happening” to see the house you were meant to buy. Other times a thought or idea may come into our mind that is something we know is not of us.  When that happens, we may react with the question, “Where did that come from?”  That’s an indication that it may be from the Holy Spirit.  For example—often when working on my Bible Study lesson, an answer to a question will come to my mind that I know did not come from me.

 Sometimes the Holy Spirit will speak to you through something you have read or heard; a teaching, a song, a book.  The word or words will seem to “jump” out at you; their meaning will resonate in your spirit as something to take note of.  Very often this happens when we are reading the Bible.  That may be the Holy Spirit saying to us:  “Listen!  This is for you.”  We should pay attention to that prompting and maybe write it down in a journal.

  The following was written by Fr. Benedict Groeschel in his book The Journey Toward God.

The spiritual life is essentially the work of the Holy Spirit. Our participation, although it may appear to be a very active struggle to do good…is ultimately a cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Our essential task is not to do things for God, but rather not to resist God’s trying to do good things for us. Holiness is His work. Our task is to avoid resisting Him. Many people waste a great deal of time and effort doing what they want on the spiritual road instead of letting the Holy Spirit lead:  they must do this, they must be there, they must learn some other things. This is not really following Christ; it is walking beside Him and making suggestions. (italics mine)

  Keeping track of inspirations from the Holy Spirit is a very good practice.  First, it helps you remember them.  Second, you can share them with your spiritual director or whoever you share with spiritually. Third, you will often see a pattern emerge that will help guide you.

  We often don’t “hear” the Holy Spirit because we are not listening. Sometimes He speaks amid the noise and distractions of our lives. But more often it’s when we are praying or when it’s quiet.  If we always have noise in our lives—radio, TV, music—we will miss much of what He is trying to tell us.

  How do we know it’s the Holy Spirit speaking and not just our own thinking, or the evil one?  When the Holy Spirit speaks, we will have a sense of calm or peace, even if it’s a word of admonition.  What we hear can never contradict the Word of God in the Bible or God’s commandments.  There is no “new” revelation.  In serious matters such as life goals, dating, marriage, employment, relocating, etc., we should always seek the advice of at least two spiritually mature Christians to help discern whether or not it’s from God.

  A woman I was associated with a long time ago was divorced from her husband and he had remarried. Yet she felt very strongly that the Holy Spirit had revealed to her that her marriage would be restored. She then proceeded to live her life as if this was going to happen. Well, it never did. We can hope and pray for something we feel the Holy Spirit has revealed to us, but we have to continue with our lives until God does it.

  St. Teresa of Avila, in her book Interior Castle, gives three rules for discerning whether a word comes from the Holy Spirit.  She says:


The first and truest is the sense of power and authority which they (the words) bear with them, both in themselves and in the actions which follow them…. (For example) A soul is experiencing all the interior disturbances and tribulations… and all the aridity and darkness of understanding.  A single word of this kind—just a “Be not troubled”— is sufficient to calm it. No other word need be spoken; a great light comes to it; and all its trouble is lifted from it, although it had been thinking that, if the whole world, and all the learned men in the world, were to combine to give it reasons for not being troubled, they could not relieve it from its distress, however hard they might strive to do so. Or a soul … is full of fear. Yet that single word which it hears: “It is I, fear not,” takes all its fear from it, and it is most marvelously comforted, and believes that no one will ever be able to make it feel otherwise. Or it is greatly exercised because of some important piece of business and it has no idea how this will turn out. It is then given to understand that it must be, and all will turn out well; and it acquires a new confidence and is no longer troubled.

The second sign is that a great tranquility dwells in the soul, which becomes peacefully and devoutly recollected, and ready to sing praises to God.

The third sign is that these words do not vanish from the memory for a very long time: some, indeed, never vanish at all. Words which we hear on earth… from men,-- however weighty and learned they may be—we do not bear so deeply engraved upon our memory, nor, if they refer to the future, do we give credence to them as we do these locutions. For these last impress us by their complete certainty, in such a way that, although sometimes they seem quite impossible of fulfillment, and we cannot help wondering if they will come true or not, and although our understanding may hesitate about it, yet within the soul itself there is a certainty which cannot be overcome….

If the locutions come from the imagination, none of these signs occur, not is there any certainty or peace or interior consolation.

  A few weeks after the death of my father, I was at a healing Mass. I was not thinking of or praying for my father, but I had my eyes closed in meditation. Then I had a mental vision of my father strolling along the shore of a river. He was young, probably in his thirties, and was dressed in a white shirt, white pants and white shoes. I was looking at this from a distance. As he walked, he was looking at the river in awe. I then had the sense that I no longer needed to pray for my father’s soul—he was in heaven. I also had a sense of the distance between him and me—like a chasm I could not cross. My father passed on in 1992 and yet this mental picture and the sense that came with it is a fresh in my mind as if it happened yesterday. This confirms for me that it truly was from the Holy Spirit.

  Most importantly, when we think we have heard the Holy Spirit speak to us we must act on it.  Don’t be afraid to step out in faith.  If it truly was the Holy Spirit it will bear fruit.  Don’t be like Jonah in the Old Testament who tried to avoid doing what the Lord asked him to do (The Book of Jonah). What good is it if God gives us guidance and we don’t follow through? We must discern and seek the discernment of mature Christians if we think the Holy Spirit wants us to speak a word of correction to a fellow Christian or we think He is asking us to make an important change in our life, i.e. marriage, job, relocating. We also need to pray that God will give us, or those who we have asked to help us discern, confirmation of His Will.

  We thank God that He has given us the great gift and blessing of speaking to us through His Holy Spirit!  Let us join with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in praying the words He spoke:  Father, Lord of heaven and earth, to you I offer praise; for what you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the merest children.  (Matthew 11:25).

No comments:

Post a Comment