The Holy Spirit came to dwell in you when you became a Christian and received the sacraments of initiation—Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist.
From that time he has worked within you, enlightening you, forming you as a Christian, empowering you with gifts, and more. He is the Giver of Life who has made you a temple, and holy. The Spirit transforms us, making us more like Christ. He does this by giving us gifts that illumine our minds—wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and counsel—and gifts that make our hearts glow with love—piety, fortitude, and reverence.
The Holy Spirit renews us in the Lord’s image by planting in us the seeds of the fruit of the Spirit, which prompt us to conduct ourselves as Jesus would. The Holy Spirit empowers each of us with charismatic gifts that equip us to fulfill our mission to bring others to Christ and to the Church. We have only to say yes to the Spirit, to cooperate with his working in us to the best of our ability, and to pursue his life and gifts in prayer.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. —Galatians 5:22-23
Many Christians regard love, joy, peace, and the other fruit of the Spirit as feelings, and they are disappointed when they try to stir them up. However, St. Paul presents the fruit of the Spirit not as feelings, but primarily as behaviors that replace the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21). For example, acts of love correct hateful conduct, peaceful initiatives calm fighting, patient behaviors replace angry outbursts, exercising self-control checks lustful acts, and so on. We receive these behaviors when we ask the Holy Spirit for the grace to conduct ourselves as Jesus would. Then we perform the actions that manifest the fruit of the Spirit. For example, to grow in love, we must do the loving thing in every situation, serving even someone we do not like. The Spirit will honor our repeating of this behavior by producing the fruit of love in us.
We recognize the works of the flesh in our lives and feel doomed to repeat them over and over. But we don’t have to: the Holy Spirit brings us antidotes that we can use to break free of them. May you face evil inclinations and persistent sinful patterns by expecting the Holy Spirit to give you the grace to overcome them, that they might be replaced by the fruit of the Spirit.
Approach the Lord with faith—and not just with the faith that believes the truth of doctrines, nor merely the daily faith that expresses your trust in God. Rather, you should approach the Lord with expectant faith—a faith that counts on God to act and takes him at his word:
And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him?”—Luke 11:9-13
It is the Holy Spirit who empowers you to grow and serve. The Spirit will equip and enable you in ways that are unique to you. Expect to experience the Holy Spirit’s power and fruit in your life as you seek him. He will work through you to draw others to Christ and his Church.
Finding Your Service.
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; . . . there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. —1 Corinthians 12:4, 6
Once during an interview, Pope St. John XXIII was asked whether being pope kept him awake at night. He replied, “Every night before I go to sleep, I kneel down and pray this simple prayer: ‘Dear God, it’s your Church. I’m going to bed.’” The pope understood that the Holy Spirit was wholly responsible for the Church’s life and that the Spirit had equipped him to share in the work. The same holds true for us. The Holy Spirit engages us to serve with him in caring for the Church. He provides spiritual gifts that empower us for our service (1 Corinthians 12:7-11). For example, to one he gives wisdom, which is inspired practical advice or understanding of a Christian truth. To another, knowledge, which is spiritual insight into a situation or a direction to act in a certain way. To some he gives faith, miracles, healing, prophecy, discernment, or other unnamed gifts.
Scripture presents two truths that many Christians fail to grasp. First, the Lord gives gifts of service to every Christian, “distributing them individually to each person as he wishes” (1 Corinthians 12:11, emphasis added). Second, the Lord wants us to seek our spiritual gifts by praying (12:31) and by exploring possible services.
The Holy Spirit wants you to join his work, and to enjoy exercising your spiritual gifts to build up the body of Christ. May you discover all the ways the Spirit is calling you to do this! Begin by praying the words of one of the great pieces of sacred liturgy:
Holy Spirit, . . . / giver of gifts limitless, / come and touch our hearts today. / . . . As your promise we believe, / make us ready to receive / gifts from your unbounded store. (Veni Sancte Spiritus)
This is an excerpt from Prayers to the Holy Spirit: Power and Light for Your Life by Bert Ghezzi, (The Word Among Us Press, 2014). Available at www.wau.org/books.