According to Saint Paul, the Holy Spirit dwells in us (1 Cor 3:16). How is it that we feel it so little?
Fr. Jean-Marc Bot. Because it is subtle! To perceive it requires sensitivity, spiritual concern. As to hear very low sound, you need high fidelity equipment, silence and no extraneous noise.
What advice do you give to achieve this?
The first is moral: try to do good and avoid evil . For, as the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) affirmed, the Spirit of God breathes within our moral conscience.
The second piece of advice is spiritual: pray . When one seeks God, especially when one is a Christian, prayer is a way of discovering the action of the Spirit. We are prey to an internal contradiction, summed up by Saint Paul: I do not do the good that I want and do the evil that I do not want. » (Rom 7, 19.) To overcome this tension, our psyche is not enough. We need grace.
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In the moral conscience, the Holy Spirit is delivered to us in homeopathic doses. It is a fragile breath, as the hymn says. For it to become powerful, prayer must work. And even if we have already received the Spirit at baptism, we must constantly continue the work. The Spirit, infinite force, pours into us, who are a cracked vessel. It’s about working on yourself to consolidate this container and allow it to expand more and more.
What resources do we have at our disposal?
Gentleness, purity, trust, benevolence, patience, wisdom, etc.
Everyone must seek spiritual virtues, in other words, superior qualities that lead to holiness, which are spelled out throughout the Bible. One of the most important is humility, presented in the Beatitudes (Mt 5, 3-4): “Blessed are those who are poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. »
A good test of the advancement of the Spirit itself is to gauge its humility. For Saint Paul, the three essential virtues, qualified as theological, are faith, hope and charity.
The Bible also speaks of “charisms”. What a difference ?
You cannot collect charisms, unlike virtues. They are different for everyone, and correspond to a diversity of profiles, experiences and ages. Some are imposed, like illness, disability, martyrdom. Others, sometimes born of personal skills, are cultivated, such as music, singing, teaching, commitment to the poorest, etc. They do not exceed the capacities of our human nature; hence the name ordinary charisms.
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The Second Vatican Council thus defined them to differentiate them from extraordinary, miraculous charisms: visions, apparitions, healings… In other words, “special effects”! The council specifies that one should not seek the latter.
Concretely, can we live with the Holy Spirit 24 hours a day?
Yes. By ceasing to be persuaded that one controls one’s life, or, on the contrary, that one is totally assisted by others. It is a question of leading one’s existence while being aware that everything depends on God.
To achieve this, one must, in one’s prayer, give priority to the Holy Spirit . That is to say, favor the spirit of prayer rather than recipes and formulas.
Progress in the spiritual life is to pass from “action with the Holy Spirit” to “the life of Christ in oneself”. Without necessarily needing a vision or an appearance! Look at Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and her little childhood voice: she lived simply, without “special effects”, in total trust in the power and grace of God.
Is this life in the Spirit reserved for mystics or accessible to all?
To all ! The common vocation of every Christian, and the will of God, is to transform us into the image of Christ.
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For this, Jesus left us two commandments: pray and care for others (Mt 22, 37-39). Even if, sometimes, we have the impression of being a good Christian, of doing enough, we should never be satisfied with it. The Holy Spirit is a dynamism that helps us progress towards ever greater love.
How can we perceive the signs of the Spirit in our lives?
A tree is known by its fruit, says Jesus in a parable. We thus recognize the Spirit wherever there is an atmosphere of joy, peace, humility and authentic love.
Even among non-believers?
The Holy Spirit is manifested in men of good will. There are outward Christians who are much less “Christian” than they think they are. And unbelieving people inhabited by the Spirit. There exists, in love, a presence of God, unknown to those who have not had Christian revelation. “Love is God”, as Saint Augustine writes.
How do we separate our feelings from the signs of the Spirit in our lives?
By discernment, that is to say the ability to distinguish counterfeit “money” from real one.
It’s simple: if our relationship to others is distorted, God is not present. People who pray all the time but do not pay attention to their neighbor, do not live with the Spirit. Like people who practice charity, but without giving genuine love.
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The test is to examine the balance between our relationship to others and our relationship to God.
Does the Holy Spirit always manifest in the same way?
No. On the contrary, he shows himself to be infinitely inventive (Wis 7, 22-30). Expect to be surprised! God makes an arrow of any wood.
Look at the profiles of the saints, so varied.
To be available to the Spirit consists in not locking oneself into ready-made schemes but in remaining open to the unexpected, the impossible, the ordinary and the extraordinary.
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How to live 24 hours a day with the Holy Spirit?
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