Isn’t it proof of God’s great love for His people that when Jesus ascended into heaven, He promised never to leave us alone. I know that if I had been in that small group of onlookers when Jesus was taken back into heaven, I would have been holding on tightly to the hem of His tunic – not wanting to let Him go. He promised that He would send the apostles His Spirit. The Spirit is part of the Trinity – the Three in One. So when we receive, at our baptism, the gift of the Spirit, as the apostles received at Pentecost, we are receiving God Himself.
Do you know that the term “novena” means nine? The first novena was said in that upper room by Mary and the apostles when they assembled there to await God’s promise – the sending of His Spirit. They prayed for nine days, and on the tenth day their prayers were answered as “tongues of fire” descended upon them all. This Spirit of God gave them gifts of speaking in other languages and strengthened them to go out and spread the good news.
The Holy Spirit is our sanctifier, sent to make us holy if we but cooperate with Him. The Holy Spirit is our soul’s life breath, animating our spirit and drawing us closer to the Lord, if we but cooperate with Him. The Holy Spirit is our advocate, speaking on our behalf, teaching us to pray, perfecting our prayer, if we but cooperate with Him.
God offers us so many gifts when He imparts His spirit to us – to live within us at our baptism, and again at confirmation when we claim our Faith as our own! God never forces Himself upon us. If we open our hearts to Him, however, (through prayer, scripture, silence, frequent reception of the Eucharist and the sacraments) His Spirit will permeate us.
Many of us who have received the Spirit at confirmation do not speak in tongues as the apostles did. Some receive this gift, but most do not. The certain thing is that we have all been gifted. Those gifts we have been given are not given to us to hoard. They are given to us to use in the service of the Church, in the service of others – to bring greater glory to God.
Can you name the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit? What are your gifts? How can you use them to bring others closer to God?