THE SCHOOL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

May 15, 2020frjohnma

GROWING IN THE HOLY SPIRIT: ALLOWING THE HOLY SPIRIT TO GUIDE US (SPIRITUAL DIRECTION)

And they went through the region of Phry′gia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.  And when they had come opposite My′sia, they attempted to go into Bithyn′ia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them… – Acts 16:6-7

Rev. Fr. John-Mary Benedict Ntol Atep

I wish I have the gifts of the mystics to deliver into our hearts one of the core secrets of the Holy Spirit – allowing the Holy Spirit to direct us or not to start anything without consulting the Holy Spirit. It is imitating the Israelites who “At every stage of their journey, whenever the cloud rose from the Dwelling, (they) would resume their march. If the cloud did not rise, they would not resume their march until the day it did rise” (Exo. 40:36-37). The cloud is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, Scripture reports that it was the Spirit that led Jesus Christ into the wilderness for His temptations: “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted…” (Matt. 4:1). And there are countless instances in Scripture, especially the New Testament that reveals how Jesus Christ was always led by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is the supreme gift of God to guide us in all our ways. The Spirit guides us through our educated conscience and through the teachings of the Church. The truth is that “Beyond the sacraments, prayer and the Mass, there is no more powerful tool than spiritual direction” (Burke, 2015). Apart from direct guidance from the Spirit in our hearts, minds and souls, the Spirit has the power to direct or guide us to do the will of God through spiritual directors. Meanwhile, the original Spiritual Director is always the HOLY SPIRIT.

Today, one of the greatest challenge of Christianity generally and Catholicism specifically is that we have many who bear the name Christians but without spiritual progress and interior life. The main reason is the absence of spiritual guidance. To have and experience spiritual progress and interior life is to have the Holy Spirit directing the movements of God in the deepest recesses of our souls. This is not usually easy. We need to desire and submit our wills to the works of the Holy Spirit. The good news is that the graces of God are always available to support us. Note, in the spiritual life, every movement of the heart and soul counts and nothing is taken for granted.

Unfortunately, there are many followers of Christ but with stuck souls. The hallmark of the Christian life is spiritual progress through a sound spiritual life. The tendency among us today is that we have become our self-guide in the spiritual life without seeking for help. It is very dangerous! No wonder, St. Bernard of Clairvaux once said, “He who constitutes himself his own spiritual director is the disciple of a fool.” I guess you may feel the gentle saint is too harsh but his assertion is meant to penetrate us, awaken us from self-centredness in order to embrace all the spiritual resources that God has made available for us.

Reflective Questions

  1. “Who has directed the spirit of the Lord, or as his counselor has instructed him? Whom did he consult for his enlightenment” (Isa. 40:13-14). As believers, we often want to direct the Holy Spirit to do our will instead of letting Him to guide us. What is the place of spiritual direction in your spiritual life?
  2. When last did you attend spiritual direction?

Action plan

For an experience of a biblical account of spiritual direction reflect on 1Sam. 3; John 3:1-16; Acts 8:26-39

Prayer for the Help of the Holy Spirit
O God, send forth your Holy Spirit into my heart that I may perceive, into my mind that I may remember, and into my soul that I may meditate. Inspire me to speak with piety, holiness, tenderness and mercy. Teach, guide and direct my thoughts and senses from beginning to end. May your grace ever help and correct me, and may I be strengthened now with wisdom from on high, for the sake of your infinite mercy. Amen.  – Saint Anthony of Padua 

Please feel free to share the prayer reflection. God bless you!

Comments (12)

  • Benjamin A Ameh

    May 16, 2020 at 11:25 am

    I am completely lost. I am completely guilty of everything you have said. Please pray for to change.

    1. frjohnma

      May 16, 2020 at 5:13 pm

      I admire your humility that says, “I am completely lost.” However, St. Anthony of Padua is a founder of lost persons and things. For you to say that you are lost is to be found by St. Anthony whom we offered his prayer to the Holy Spirit. God bless you

  • Juliana-Mary Ukeje

    May 16, 2020 at 12:09 pm

    This is indeed the crux of the matter: “allowing the Holy Spirit to direct us or not to start anything without consulting the Holy Spirit.”; thank you very much Father for this show of great concern for our spiritual progress and may God grant you the desired gift of mystics to achieve this wish. Thank you also for the scripture references on examples of those who enjoyed spiritual directions. Yes indeed Father, absence of spiritual guidance among most of us Christians today is the major hindrance to our spiritual progress and interior life but I also think most of us don’t even have the interest to obtain the spiritual guidance. This need for spiritual direction reminds me of the founder of Opus Dei (St. JoseMaria D’Escrica)’s writing in his book-The Way (No.60), where he was wondering how we hope to build our “castle of sanctification in order to live forever in heaven” without consulting an expert (ie a spiritual director) but we wouldn’t think of building a good earthly house without an Architect or a builder? Truly, the very very very few occasions that I have responded to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to seek His direction before embarking on an action have yielded unbelievable successful outcomes. The problem is being too much in a hurry to act or rushing my time of consulting with Him before carrying out the action. May God continue to supply us the grace & May Our Mother of good counsel intercede for us.

    1. Fr John-Mary Atep

      May 16, 2020 at 9:53 pm

      Thanks again and again for your powerful comments on the solemn need to always consult the Holy Spirit before embacking on anything. Such doctrinal formation about the Holy Spirit is what we need to long for and promote it too. A practical dimension of it is seeking for spiritual direction. Ideally, every Catholic is supposed to have a spiritual director. It is a core need in the Spiritual life. Just as we need a doctor for our physical health so we need a spiritual director for our holistic health. I am optimistic that we will do well if we desire and work towards this truth that supports our spiritual life. God bless you!

  • Jacinta Anajekwu Ebere

    May 16, 2020 at 1:34 pm

    Amen and Amen , may God grant us the grace to always seek the help of the holy Spirit and always invite Him in our daily life and activities as our Greatest Friend on earth, counselor and teacher. Amen
    Thank you Fr……..for your in-depth teaching of the Holy Spirit , they are so helpful, highly inspirational…it helps us to think deep and acknowledge the Spirit of God living in us. God bless and enlarge your wisdom.

  • Anajekwu Jacinta Ebere

    May 16, 2020 at 1:36 pm

    Amen and Amen , may God grant us the grace to always seek the help of the holy Spirit and always invite Him in our daily life and activities as our Greatest Friend on earth, counselor and teacher. Amen
    Thank you Fr……..for your in-depth teaching of the Holy Spirit , they are so helpful, highly inspirational…it helps us to think deep and acknowledge the Spirit of God living in us. God bless and enlarge your wisdom.

    1. frjohnma

      May 16, 2020 at 1:42 pm

      Amen and thanks a lot for your kind words and prayers. Be Blessed always

  • Pauline Otu

    May 16, 2020 at 7:01 pm

    Amen , thank you Father & stay safe.

  • AndyMarie

    May 16, 2020 at 9:20 pm

    Padre I concur with St Bernard, on the issue of having a spiritual director to guide me is what I really need to submit myself to. Not only when am in distress but some one who can advise, counsel and lead me on the right part in line with the Holy Spirit.
    Thanks for this exposure.

  • Louis Mathias

    May 16, 2020 at 9:28 pm

    Amen. Thanks so much for this timely piece on spiritual direction Fr. May God help us to always seek the direction of the Holy Spirit before doing anything through Christ Our Lord Amen.

  • SalmaMary Omaidu

    May 18, 2020 at 7:22 pm

    Am really inspired , God bless you Father

    1. frjohnma

      May 18, 2020 at 9:55 pm

      Thanks so much and God bless you

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