This is part six of a seven-part series on discipleship.
Cultivating a dependence on the Holy Spirit is especially important for our continued intimacy with Jesus Christ. A good friend of mine often calls the Holy Spirit “the forgotten Person of the Holy Trinity.” When I asked him why, he remarked, “When Christians live as if their lives are not transfigured by the love and joy of the Gospel, then they have forgotten the Holy Spirit.” This is certainly a good point for us to ponder as we think about our own dependence on the Holy Spirit. While our culture emphasizes independence and personal freedom, the reality is that we are dependent on so many people throughout our lives. For example, we rely on medical personnel throughout our life from birth to death; we rely on other drivers to be attentive and safe as we share the road with them. So, too, on the journey of faith do we depend on a community to help us to grow as disciples. And this growth in relationship with Jesus Christ could not happen without the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
Here are four guiding principles to help you reflect upon your relationship with the Holy Spirit.
1. The Holy Spirit is a Person, not an “it.”
Jesus ascended to the Father so that he might send us his Holy Spirit, who renews the face of the earth and each one of us. One cannot believe in Jesus Christ without sharing in his Spirit. The Holy Spirit reveals to us who Jesus is. “For ‘no one can say “Jesus is Lord”, except by the Holy Spirit.’” (CCC 152) How does the Holy Spirit reveal who Jesus is in your life?
2. The Holy Spirit comes in power.
In the Acts of the Apostles, the disciples experienced the Holy Spirit in power for “suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house.” (2:2) Tongues of fire rested on each of the disciples, and “all of them were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” (2:4) After this, they went out and performed miracles, healings, signs, and wonders. How does the Holy Spirit manifest as power in your life?
3. The Holy Spirit comforts and advocates for us.
In Scripture, we find references to the Holy Spirit as one who consoles and comforts us (John 14:16) and as our helper who comes alongside us to live a life of virtue and holiness (John 16:13). One of the titles of the Holy Spirit is the “Paraclete,” which is translated from the Greek term, parakletos, as one who advocates, comforts, and comes to our aid. We can feel burnt out and overwhelmed at times, especially in our ministry. The Holy Spirit has been sent to each one of us to renew our minds and hearts, helping us become ever more conscious of our intimacy with Jesus and with one another. How has the Holy Spirit advocated for and comforted you?
4. The Holy Spirit helps us to grow in holiness.
The Trinity is a communion of Persons, a relationship of three in one. As such, each Person of the Trinity helps sanctify us. The Latin word sanctificare means “to purify, cleanse, or to make holy.” The Holy Spirit helps us grow in discipleship by sanctifying us and our actions.
As you reflect upon your relationship with the Holy Spirit, ask yourself the following question: When you pray, which member of the Trinity do you pray most to: God the Father? God the Son? God the Holy Spirit?
Take a moment and ask yourself: does every activity in my parish point more deeply to Jesus? Julianne Stanz wants to help you and your parish community make sure the answer to this question is a resounding, “Yes!” Order Julianne’s new book, Start with Jesus: How Everyday Disciples Will Renew the Church, available now.