Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Holy Spirit to the Rescue When I don't know what I want

One of the recent readings for  evening prayer  had those wonderful verses from Romans 8, worth quoting in full, Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And He who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

What a relief!  If only I remembered this more often when I'm wondering whether I'm even asking for the right thing: should I pray for my son to stop dating a non-Catholic when he might, after all, be the means of her conversion?  Do I pray for this terminally  ill elderly person to be cured, or for his happy death? And then there's days that I know there are people who have asked me to pray for them but I can't remember who it was or what they wanted prayers for. Or at those times I'm so overcome with worry or sadness or fear or anger that I can barely formulate a coherent thought about anything, much less a prayer.

All I really have to do in these situations is to say, "Holy Spirit, you know how and what I should be praying. Please sort this out and pray in me according the will of God."

I'm not sure which of the 7 gifts this falls under. Maybe it is something separate. But it seems to me to be the greatest of all the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives.


  1. From the Office of Readings for today, (the reading by St. Hilary) "We receive the Spirit of truth so that we can know the things of God. In order to grasp this, consider how useless the faculties of the human body would become if they were denied their exercise. Our eyes cannot fulfill their task without light, either natural or artificial; our ears cannot react without sound vibrations, and in the absence of any odor our nostrils are ignorant of their function. Not that these senses would lose their own nature if they were not used; rather, they demand objects of experience in order to function. It is the same with the human soul. Unless it absorbs the gift of the Spirit through faith, the mind has the ability to know God but lacks the light necessary for that knowledge.

    This unique gift which is in Christ is offered in its fullness to everyone. It is everywhere available, but it is given to each man in proportion to his readiness to receive it. Its presence is the fuller, the greater a man’s desire to be worthy of it. This gift will remain with us until the end of the world, and will be our comfort in the time of waiting. By the favors it bestows, it is the pledge of our hope for the future, the light of our minds, and the splendor that irradiates our understanding."

    I'm so excited about this because I teach Confirmation at my parish to high school youth. I can't wait to share this at our first meeting in the fall. I often tell them that they will each experience something different at Confirmation depending on how much room they make in their hearts durning the preparation. God will do his part, He will fill us to the brim, but we will each experience something different depending on how big a container we offer him to fill. I then bring out a cup, a bucket, and a big tub. This is an idea I borrowed from St. Faustina's diary.

    What I love about this reading is the analogy with the senses but especially the line that explains how to be ready to receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit: "the greater a man's desire to be worthy of it." There is so much implied in that phrase--repentance, humility, love, and an openness and willingness to follow God.

    1. You student will be fortunate to have teacher who has been formed by the Church Fathers via the Liturgy of the Hours. The different size vessels analogy also helps us understand how there are greater and lesser degrees of reward/glory for souls in heaven--each is filled but only according to his own capacity to receive.

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  3. Great article!