During a Day of Recollection recently, in a talk “Engaging the Spirit Within” I pointed out that God dwells within us—a fundamental truth of our faith that we don’t often remember. In the depths of our being, the Holy Spirit, the Person responsible for sanctifying us, frequently nudges us to perform good acts. We used to call these nudges “actual graces.” We are free to respond to these ideas or not. Saying yes, however, leads to blessings.
Reflecting on the past two weeks, I found three instances where I cooperated with the Spirit’s whispers. A few days ago it was announced that one of our Sisters, a 95-year-old friend of mine, was suddenly under hospice care. A little later, something (or Someone) told me to visit her in our Health Care facility. I went to her room, where she was receiving oxygen. Sister was not able to speak, and her eyes were closed but she was moving. No one else was there. I spoke to her. Several hours later, Sister died.
Another time I went to our chapel to practice the piano there. A woman sat hunched over in a pew and praying. She seemed to be in distress. Although I didn’t have to, I was inspired to walk over and ask if she minded if I played the piano. That gave me a reason to approach her. When I did, she told me about a family situation she was terribly worried about. She said she was relieved to be able to talk to someone about it. I promised to pray for the people involved by name every day.
The third example occurred the day I was to drive to Kentucky during a snowstorm. With great trepidation I set out. There was no morning Mass at the Center where I live, and there would be no afternoon Mass at the Center where I was going. But a parish had a 7:30 a.m. Mass. Stopping there would be out of my way and add time to my journey. However, the Holy Spirit urged me to make the little detour and I did. At that Mass the first general intercession was “for travelers”! Not only that, but I reconnected with a dear friend who was also at that Mass.
During Lent the Holy Spirit who is alive and at work in your heart is moving you to “holy” actions, too. He might be saying things like, “Call that widow who could use a friend,” “Volunteer at a soup kitchen and take someone with you,” “Forget social media for awhile and pay more attention to your family,” or “It’s about time you went to confession.”
An antiphon that begins Morning Prayer during Lent is “Today if you hear the voice of the Lord, harden not your heart.” Listening to the Spirit brings about joy and peace—and ultimately eternal life!
Jesus was compelled by the Spirit a number of times. The Spirit drove him into the desert to prepare him for his ministry. I think the Spirit moved Jesus to travel to Samaria to meet that woman at the well when he could have taken the usual Jewish route to avoid that despised land. The Holy Spirit probably inspired him to cast out the sellers and money changers from the Temple in order to preserve the sanctity of the Father’s house.
It is a spiritually healthy practice each evening to review the day and spot times when you cooperated with the holy nudges…or failed to.
By the way, my latest book is “The Holy Spirit: Font of Love, Life, and Power.” It can be purchased from me for $10.00.
When has listening to the Holy Spirit led to an unexpected favor for you?