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We all like the feeling of being “filled up.” Whether it means being filled with food from a wonderful meal or being filled with love for our children, we know how pleasant it is when we feel we have all that we need.
We all like being filled up spiritually as well. So here is my recipe for being filled up by the Holy Spirit. Whether I am at Mass or in personal prayer, I follow pretty much the same strategy.
The first thing I do is “set my position.” This means I take a moment to examine my conscience to see if any minor sins are keeping me from hearing the Lord or feeling his presence. If I find any, I ask him to forgive me, and I trust that God’s mercy is greater than any of my failings. Then I imagine myself in Peter’s shoes as he told Jesus, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). I tell Jesus that I want to stay close to him.
My next step in seeking to be filled by the Spirit is to ponder the Scriptures. I always try to picture myself present in whatever passage I am reading, just as St. Ignatius of Loyola taught. Then, I ask some questions: “What is Moses feeling as he stands before the burning bush? And what do I feel when I pray before the Blessed Sacrament? What is Abraham thinking as God asks him to strike out for the Promised Land?” And I ask myself if God is pressing me to move forward in some area. What was it like for the disciples to help in the feeding of the five thousand? And I wonder if God is showing me a way that he wants to use me in his mission.
I also find that music helps me to be filled with the Spirit. Whether at Mass or in my personal prayer, I feel closer to the Lord when I sing songs of worship to him. Singing engages my emotions as well as my thoughts. As I sing, I try to be like the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with perfume. I honor Jesus, I tell him that he is Lord of my life, and I give him the first affections of my heart.
As I am singing and worshipping Jesus—especially after I receive Communion—I ask him to fill me with the Holy Spirit and give me some insights. Then I try to reflect on whatever comes into my mind. Then I write down what I think the Spirit is saying and try to carry it into my day.
A Simple Plan. So that’s my simple plan. I don’t always get it right, but I trust that even on the days when I am not so focused, God is still filling me with his Spirit.
I am convinced that the Holy Spirit wants to fill us so that we can become more and more like Jesus. So as you read this summer double issue, open your heart and say, “Holy Spirit, come and fill me with your presence. Come and change my heart.” May the Lord bless you and fill you with his love.