THE SCHOOL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
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.
- “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?
- When last did you attend spiritual direction?
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
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