Saturday, December 3, 2022

Top Ten Ways to Open to the Holy Spirit: 8 and 7 and an ‘Impossible How-To’

One of the most fascinating aspects of my job is to figure out how to do something, and not just in the IT world. Even as a classroom teacher, I was constantly facing the question of how to teach a skill my students weren’t quite getting. I was constantly asking them, “Why do you think like this?” To help me understand where they were coming from, the answer to that question was commonly part of the tools that I used as a teacher. The more experience I got, the easier it was to know “how” to teach what I had to teach.

Today, even with more than 300 articles under my belt, I still often struggle with the “how” of beginning an article. This article is a case in point. How do I continue to explain the list of the top ten ways of fostering the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, according to Father Jacque Philippe’s book In the School of the Holy Spirit? Or better yet, how do I explain items eight and seven on this top ten list? Well, here goes!

Number 8: Persevere Faithfully in Prayer; and Number 7: Practice Silence and Peace. So, let’s see if I can indeed grasp how to explain these next two on the top ten list.

Let me begin quoting Father Philippe: “Prayer is indispensable in strengthening our determination to refuse God nothing, in practicing detachment with filial and trusting abandonment, in learning to love silence and inwardness, and in discovering the ‘place of the heart’ where the Holy Spirit gently appeals to us.”1

Prayer is absolutely essential in establishing a relationship with God. I have said this before and I will repeat it now: One must spend at least 20 minutes a day in prayer. These 20 minutes create and then strengthen your relationship with God. Part of the time should be spent “chatting,” but most importantly it must be about listening to Him. The attentiveness that we practice in prayer truly opens ourselves to the promptings and the gentle whispers of the Holy Spirit. He will show us, as well as tell us, what we need to hear.

Listening in prayer leads us to practicing silence. One of the fruits of silence is peace. Peace is the classroom to the Holy Spirit. “Maintaining peace is linked to the practice of silence. This silence is not an empty silence; it is peace, attentiveness to God’s presence and attentiveness to others, waiting in trust and hope in God.”2

This type of openness is not easy; it requires patient practice and time. Besides this, it requires a readiness on our part to abandon ourselves in humility to the boundless mercy and love of God, who desires our entire heart and soul. Do you REALLY know, with your heart, that you are loved by God? I mean really, really know. This knowledge gives us more peace and joy than you can ever imagine. In a sense, it recreates and allows us to experience the resurrection first-hand. It allows the love of God to seep out of our pores and spread to others. In this sense, you become a true evangelist without ever opening your mouth!

There is no one way to do this. Each of us is unique and uniquely loved by God. The essential key to all of this, I believe, is taking the time to pray. Time spent like this bears everlasting fruit, not only in your life but in the lives of all those around you.

So, maybe this is the one time in my life that a specific “how to” is impossible to explain. All I can do is leave you with the knowledge that it is possible, because God wants it!

1Philippe, J. In the School of the Holy Spirit. (2002). Scepter Pubs, p. 39.

2Philippe, pg. 38.

(Do you have a topic that you would like Sister Geralyn to write about? Send your suggestions to srgschmidt@hbgdiocese.org or witness@hbgdiocese.org.)

By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, The Catholic Witness

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