THE SCHOOL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: GROWING IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
Do not get drunk with wine; this is simply dissipation; be filled with the Spirit. – Eph. 5:18
Rev. Fr. John-Mary Benedict Ntol Atep
Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of the Faith…
“I thank my God each time I think of you and when I pray for you I pray with joy” (Phil. 1:3-4). In our world today, we are blessed with myriad of spiritualities. Christian spirituality is a major domain with so many dimensions and favours. We need to embrace it and in doing so, we need to fully grow and develop in it. Fullness in Christian spirituality is not optional. The Teacher of the school of Christian Spirituality is the Holy Spirit. He teaches, leads and sanctifies us to the fullness of Jesus Christ. I am sure with our reflections on the prime importance of integration, our hearts, minds, souls and spirits are open to all the essential areas of our Christian spirituality.
There is still widespread ignorance about the Triune God and the Holy Spirit as the most ignored Person of the Blessed Trinity. Today, let us take the bold steps to assess our growth and development in the Holy Spirit. Traditionally in the Catholic Church, we assess our growth and development by following the three stages of growth: Purgative, Illuminative and Unitive. Each stage of growth requires the operations of the Holy Spirit.
At the purgative stage we seek the help of the Holy Spirit to prick us of our sins. Sin makes us to be lukewarm and less fervent in the Spirit. Carelessness about sin causes blockages and nobody can boost of living without struggling with sin. Scripture comments that “a righteous man falls seven times and rises again” (Prov. 24:16). At the illuminative stage, as we start cooperating with grace through prayer, the word of God and the sacraments. The power of God’s grace then enables us to resist temptations and make wise choices in life, become a bit stable and keep moving on. So, we are preoccupied with growing in freedom, love and prayer. And the third stage of growth is the unitive stage, what our friend St. Teresa of Jesus calls the stage of the celebration of spiritual marriage. The Teresian stage of spiritual marriage is the 7th Mansion of the soul and an apex of the union of God’s love and ours. At this stage of growth, we have developed many virtues, we are faithful to prayer and good works, we are patient in suffering and trials and we are sensitive and docile to the directives of “Brother Wind.”
Now, let’s go to the school of “Brother Wind” as Saint Francis of Assisi calls it. Conscious of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our individual souls and the Church reveals a lot of His actions. The Church, conscious of the works of the Holy Spirit, usually prays “Bend our wills, however rebellious they may be, to you.” We too can pray with similar words. When our souls are sensitive and docile to “Brother wind” we become proper charismatic persons. A charismatic person is known to traverse from baptism that is constantly renewed by being “born again” (meaning strengthening bonds with Jesus through the Holy Spirit) and climaxing the renewal of our baptism and confirmation by receiving baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Please take your process of integration very seriously. Do not be deceived by old mentalities. Be open to the works of the Holy Spirit. If you have difficulties in understanding and accepting the reflections so far, do not hesitate to post a question to me or speak with your spiritual director. God bless you.
Biblical texts for further reflection and prayer
- Initial Baptism: Mark 16:16; Matt. 28:19-20; 1Cor. 3:16, 12:12; Rom. 8:15
- “Born again” : John 1:12-13, 3:8; Gal. 2:20; 2Cor. 1:21
- Fullness of Christian life: John 10:10; Titus 3:4; Acts 1:8; Luke 24:48-49; Gal. 5:22-23; 1Tim 4:14, 2Tim. 1:6
You are in my prayers and please pray for me!