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Open your heart to the Holy Spirit

Open your heart to the Holy Spirit

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Most of us will not be at Mass on Pentecost Sunday this year, as our access is still somewhat limited. We have gotten used to this and found ways to celebrate in the domestic church at home.

It does get to be kind of a bummer.

However the Holy Spirit is undeterred. St. Augustine wrote that Pentecost happens again and again. So the Holy Spirit is always blowing through! We just need to be attentive and open.

How can we open our hearts to “the Lord, the Giver of Life,” (Nicene Creed) so that we can receive what he wants to give us and act on whatever he inspires in us? How can we make our participation in Pentecost especially meaningful this year?

For tips, I called some Charismatic Catholics I know (all St. Mary’s alumni)  to see if they could help us out.  I admire the spiritual courage, openness and freedom they have. Something cool is going on there; a living faith, a lively relationship with the Holy Spirit that makes me smile.

As I read, thought, and talked about it, I realized that the Catholic Charismatic Renewal isn’t a movement (though it is that) as much as it is, as I kept hearing, “a current of grace” and renewal in the church, available to all of the family of God.

What is renewal in the spirit? My friend Nan Prikryl calls it a “renewal of love.”  She says it is a graced clarity of vision, a renewed love of God, a “nudge from the Spirit to go love on people.”

She describes beautiful experiences in prayer that changed her life. These weren’t wild particularly. These were times she felt she was being held close by the Father, times she was given a new understanding, a deep peace, felt lifted out of herself and in communion with others as she sang. Love washed over her and made her cry happy tears.  She says the Holy Spirit “is tenderness and love,” and that’s how you know his touch.

She says spiritual renewal is a revitalized love of God, of being open to what God wants to show us, the reception of a  deepened spiritual understanding of a Scripture, a breath of creativity, an insight that helps heal or even healing itself.

Nan explained that, being human we need to sometimes feel loved by God in a way we can physically or emotionally feel. Some have a feeling of inner warmth, of a burning heart, or hands or an inner release that makes them transcend words and pray like a little child. Nan mentioned  a sense of the holy that moves her to sing in inspired ways, to take off her shoes and pray prostrate. It’s important to be in a safe, loving environment where the way you pray is OK.

She says this renewal makes us more and more radiant and inspired in our faith. “There should be something beautifully attractive about our relationship with God, transmitting love and joy, a sure sign of his presence.”

I know Nan well and that definitely describes her.

Kristy Kranly talked about the Holy Spirit “giving a word,”  illuminating the Scriptures, guiding us and giving us new life, setting us free. Our minds are so busy sometimes the spirit steps in turning the mental chatter off allowing our spirits to commune with God’s in ways beyond the mind’s reach. Other times there is a gentle realization of God within us, or a new direction becomes clear. We may have an inspiration to give a word to someone else.

Kristy said Renewal in the Spirit is the “awakening  of a new sensitivity to God in and around you.” It doesn’t have to be extraordinary. She says “just because you act differently than what you expect Charismatics to be, it doesn’t mean you aren’t filled to the brim with the spirit.” God gives what he wants to each person who is open to him.

We can expect the gifts and fruits of the spirit to unfold in our lives as we welcome him into our souls, unwrapping the graces bestowed on us in the Sacrament of Confirmation.  You know these: the gifts of “wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge and fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:2); as well as piety, and the fruits “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness ,gentleness and self-control.” (See Gal. 5:22-23)

According to Kristy, the first thing we should do to prepare for Renewal in the Spirit is to “raise our expectations.” Expect the Holy Spirit! We should get ready for anything to happen because the Holy Spirit is a creative genius.

I laughed because in my experience when I pray to the Holy Spirit I have to get ready because the world can turn upside down. I told her how sometimes at Christmas, I like to leave the door open for Jesus to come and that maybe I could do this for the Holy Spiri,t too. She called that a “sacramental act,” where we do something symbolic to bring a spiritual reality alive for us personally; as if to say to God, “let this be that.”

These things can add to our receptivity to The Holy Spirit, especially on a Pentecost when most of us will be at home.

She suggested that listening to other people’s testimony about renewal in the spirit can increase our desire for it, which is key. God loves to fulfill that desire. “Come Holy Spirit,” we pray.

Then  we can pray with Mary,  “Let the word you have given be fulfilled in me.” (Luke 1:38b NIV)

Kristy talked about how Charismatic prayer services often start with praise and worship music that encourage us to lay down our burdens and enter fully into sacred space. Then the music and prayers will move from joyous praise to more intimate, quiet worship music that helps bring us closer to the heart. The idea is then to slip into silence together and within ourselves with God. Do try this at home! 

I also talked to Molly (Millroy) Goldfine, who said when she travelled with NET Ministries (a ministry that gives retreats to Catholic youth) the style of worship and prayer was absolutely Charismatic. The ministers prayed over one another regularly, laying their hands on one another’s shoulders (always asking if the other person felt comfortable of course.) These times were inspiring and fruitful for all involved.  

I have experienced how much human touch can deepen conscious contact with God when I have been prayed over or have prayed over someone else. 

 I realized that I have known the deep inner healing of the Holy Spirit over and over. I have seen deep bonding and renewed spiritual flowering among my friends as we prayed together. Maybe I know a little bit about this after all. Maybe you do, too. 

 Molly says what she associates with Pentecost the most is receiving the courage to go out in love and service. The Disciples were hiding out in the Upper Room with an overwhelming task before them, still scared of the authorities, not sure quite what to do now that Jesus had ascended. Then as promised, the Holy Spirit came powerfully, enlightened them, the gift of tongues allowed them to communicate God’s message to all.   They suddenly had the courage to leave that safety and do extraordinary things in bold trust. To Molly that is the ultimate gift of Pentecost, of renewal, that courage to speak, to serve, to love like Jesus. 

 So maybe we can prepare the way for the Spirit to come renew us by laying down our burdens, letting go of anything that holds us back. Why not forgive everyone, and ask forgiveness too? Why not let go of things we already know we need to? 

Clear the deck! Expect miracles, get ready for change!  

Maybe as families at home this year we can pray over one another, invite the Holy Spirit to truly renew, encourage, empower, heal and inspire us now. 

Devise your own little prayer service. If you have any of that olive oil from the Holy Land or even some fragrant (and safe) essential oils in the house, make use of them. Anoint one another’s heads, hands and feet with a prayer. We do that at my house and we love it. Light candles, burn incense, throw rose petals, read Scriptures. Sing Holy Spirit songs, give one another words of encouragement, or verses of the Bible you feel moved to speak to them. Invite the Holy Spirit, “font of of love, ... sweet anointing from above,” (Veni Creator Spiritus)  to come among you. And mean it! 

Oh, and leave the door open.

Bryan resident Shawn Manning Chapman, a twice-widowed mom of two daughters, is a Secular Discalced Carmelite, a Catholic community in the Diocese of Austin. She is a private caregiver.

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