A Gift of Fear
The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: . . . /
a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord. —Isaiah 11:2
About a dozen years ago, I noticed that my spiritual life was doing somewhat better than usual. I took stock and observed that one thing I was doing differently was praying the Sign of the Cross more reverently. Reverence, or fear of the Lord, comes to us as one of the Spirit’s seven gifts. I believe that the Holy Spirit was prompting me to sign myself more attentively. He gave me a gift of reverence to open me more fully to the graces that this great prayer and practice make available. The Spirit was also teaching me how gestures express reverence to the Lord. So I learned the importance of standing, kneeling, bowing, folding my hands, and raising my arms as ways of expressing awe in God’s presence.
The Holy Spirit gave you fear of the Lord at your Confirmation. This gift does not mean cowering before the Lord in terror. Rather, it forms us in the ways of showing reverence to God. So we come before the Lord awestruck at his greatness, and express our respect by our posture and conduct.
May you exercise your spiritual gift of fear of the Lord in your thoughts, in your words, and in your actions. Awestruck at the majesty of God, may you address him in prayer and worship ever more reverently.
Come, Holy Spirit. Renew in me the gift of reverence so that I may express my awe at your greatness in my thoughts, words, and actions.
In those days [Jesus] departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. —Luke 6:12
Let me be clear—I have never prayed all night. But at transition points in my life, I have spent hours seeking direction from the Holy Spirit. For example, four times when I needed to change jobs, I took long prayer times asking for his guidance. Each time he led me to a new and better opportunity. I have also made it a regular practice to take a couple of hours for a prayerful reality check. I take my Bible to a park, pray my favorite psalms, and then ask the Lord if I’m doing what he wants me to do. I review my life, my care for my family, my service in the Church and at work. I spend quiet time listening to the Spirit and note any leadings that either affirm or correct my course. Then I look for ways of doing what I’m told.
If you are at a transition point, I encourage you to spend time seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance. If you are in a secure place, I recommend that you take prayerful reality checks throughout the year.
May you find silence amid the daily noise where you can hear the voice of the Spirit, and may you have the wisdom and fortitude to do what he tells you.
Come, Holy Spirit. I open my mind and heart to you. I want you to guide me so that I can lead a life pleasing to you, one that brings love and blessing to others.
A Little Miracle
There are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. . . . To one is given through the Spirit . . . the working of miracles. —1 Corinthians 12:6, 8, 10, RSV
One week after my wife, Mary Lou, was hired at the local public library, she misplaced the keys to the building. We prayed fervently and searched everywhere but could not find the key. On the morning that Mary Lou had decided to report the loss, I prayed, “Lord, let me find that key now.” Then I felt led to search Mary Lou’s van. Since we had searched it many times before, I was not hopeful, but when I looked under the driver’s seat, the key was right there in plain sight!
How had that happened? Had we simply not seen it before? Had some child played a silly prank, wised up, and then put it where we would find it? Or did the Lord put it there because he loves Mary Lou? No matter. We just thanked him for a little miracle.
The Holy Spirit is not a vending machine, dispensing miracles at our request. But when you face hard circumstances, don’t hesitate to pray, and then expect him to act. He may give you what you ask for, or he may give you something better.
When bad things happen and you seem to face imponderable challenges, may you have the confidence to ask the Holy Spirit to give you a little breakthrough miracle.
Come, Holy Spirit. Give me the spiritual spine I need to act in faith. Increase my confidence in you so that I can approach you with expectation.
I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always. —John 14:16
In the ancient Greek legal system, an advocate spoke on behalf of another in court. The term came to be associated with many other meanings, including “spokesman,” “intercessor,” “mediator,” “counselor, “comforter,” and “consoler.” Jesus, our first Advocate, is all of these and more. Most of all, he is our supreme intercessor with the Father, who gave himself as a ransom for our sins and those of the whole world (1 John 2:2). So that he would not leave us orphans (John 14:18), Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit as another Advocate, who would be our teacher and a witness to him. So the Spirit stays with us to defend, counsel, and console us and to speak and intercede for us.
Every day we need a defender against all the challenges to which our culture subjects us. Issues pop up that demand the aid of a counselor. We suffer physical and emotional pain, which makes us long for an intercessor and consoler. How good it is that Jesus has sent us another Advocate to remain with us and surround us with graces.
From sunrise to sunset, throughout the evening and into the night, whether you are awake or asleep, may you be aware of the companionship of your Advocate, the Holy Spirit.
O Holy Spirit, I rejoice that you stand with me as my Advocate. Come, teach me your ways, counsel me with your wisdom, defend me from temptations to sin, and intercede for me, for I stand in need of your grace.
Read more of Bert Ghezzi’s personal anecdotes and reflections in his book Prayers to the Holy Spirit: Power and Light for Your Life (The Word Among Us Press, 2014). Available at wau.org/books