“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” – Acts 1:8
(John 20:19-23) Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to be in the Upper Room with the disciples, our Blessed Mother Mary, and the other followers of Jesus when the Holy Spirit descended upon them? To actually hear the sound of that violent wind rushing through the house and to see tongues of fire resting on the heads of everyone around you? To open your mouth and realize that you were speaking in a language you had never even heard before?
This was the power and gift of the Holy Spirit that descended on Jesus’ followers on Pentecost, the official ‘birthday’ of the Church. On that day, the disciples were transformed and empowered. No longer confused and afraid, they had been given everything they needed to go out into the world to proclaim the Gospel.
But the coming of the Holy Spirit was not just reserved for a handful of disciples at a particular moment in time. We, too, can experience God’s transforming power if we open ourselves up to His presence. The gifts of the Holy Spirit – wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of God – are poured out on us in the Sacrament of Confirmation. But we can pray for these gifts – for God’s strength and inspiration – at any time.
Pope Benedict XVI writes, “The gift of God is the Holy Spirit. The gift of God is love – God shares himself as love in the Holy Spirit … The presence of the Holy Spirit makes itself known in the manner of love.”1 The love of the Holy Spirit within us inspires us to turn away from self-love, to focus instead on our love for God and others. It is a love that inspires us to go out, to share the Good News of God’s love with everyone we meet. “God challenges those who believe in him ‘to go forth’,”2 writes Pope Francis, even if it means that doing so will take us out of our comfort zone.
But the world today is often hostile to God and dismissive of our faith. At times, it may seem that the results of our witness are “invisible, elusive and unquanitifiable.”3 Nevertheless, we must trust in God’s promise that our lives will be fruitful if we unite ourselves to Him (cf. Jn 15:5). We must be convinced that “No single act of love for God will be lost, no generous effort is meaningless, no painful endurance is wasted.”4 Instead, we place our confidence in the Holy Spirit, who “works as he wills, when he wills and where he wills; we entrust ourselves without pretending to see striking results. We know only that our commitment is necessary.”5
– Sharon van der Sloot
“We are living in a new missionary age. The same Holy Spirit which empowered the first century church is being poured out afresh on the Church of the Third Christian Millennium. Pope Francis is calling the Church of this age to go forth from that upper room and shake the Nations with the message of true freedom, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”6
– Deacon Keith Fournier
Prayer for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit7
by St. Alphonsus Liguori
Holy Spirit, divine Consoler, I adore You as my true God, with God the Father and God the Son. I adore You and unite myself to the adoration You receive from the angels and saints.
I give You my heart and I offer my ardent thanksgiving for all the grace which You never cease to bestow on me.
O Giver of all supernatural gifts, who filled the soul of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, with such immense favors, I beg You to visit me with Your grace and Your love and to grant me the gift of holy fear, so that it may act on me as a check to prevent me from falling back into my past sins, for which I beg pardon.
Grant me the gift of piety, so that I may serve You for the future with increased fervor, follow with more promptness Your holy inspirations, and observe your divine precepts with greater fidelity.
Grant me the gift of knowledge, so that I may know the things of God and, enlightened by Your holy teaching, may walk, without deviation, in the path of eternal salvation.
Grant me the gift of fortitude, so that I may overcome courageously all the assaults of the devil, and all the dangers of this world which threaten the salvation of my soul.
Grant me the gift of counsel, so that I may choose what is more conducive to my spiritual advancement and may discover the wiles and snares of the tempter.
Grant me the gift of understanding, so that I may apprehend the divine mysteries and by contemplation of heavenly things detach my thoughts and affections from the vain things of this miserable world.
Grant me the gift of wisdom, so that I may rightly direct all my actions, referring them to God as my last end; so that, having loved Him and served Him in this life, I may have the happiness of possessing Him eternally in the next.
1 Pope Benedict XVI, Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith, 44-45; quoted in Benedictus: Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI, ed. Rev. Peter John Cameron, O.P. (Yonkers, NY: Ignatius Press, 2006), 165.
2 Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium – The Joy of the Gospel (London, England: The Catholic Truth Society, 2013), 20.
3 Ibid., 279.
6 Deacon Keith Fournier, “Pope Francis in the Upper Room: From Here the Church Goes Forth,” (May 28, 2014), Catholic Online; available fromhttp://www.catholic.org/news/international/middle_east/story.php?id=55551; Internet; accessed 3 June 2014.
7 St. Alphonsus Liguori, “Prayer for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit,” Catholic Online; available from http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=84; Internet; accessed 4 June 2014.