When we call somebody a friend, we usually have someone in mind we know rather well, and with whom we enjoy spending time. We know this person would walk with us through a difficulty or assist us with solving a problem.
Actually, our “greatest friend” is God the Holy Spirit. How do we know this? St. Paul tells us that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Rom 5:5) Our Heavenly Father sent the Holy Spirit—the third Person of the Blessed Trinity—to live in our hearts and bring us closer to Jesus.
The Holy Spirit is our great consoler and encourager. He helps us to be faithful in prayer, to come to know Jesus and to believe that Jesus is God and that He died and rose from the dead to forgive our sins. Through Jesus, we have been set free from slavery to sin and freed for a life of joy, peace and fulfillment as found through a relationship with the Holy Spirit and by following His guidance.
The spiritual life is a battle; we must constantly struggle to overcome human weakness, temptation and our sinful tendencies. There is good news! The Holy Spirit is the source and strength of our spiritual life. By turning to Him in prayer, we avoid an unfulfilling, frustrating, guilt-ridden and up-and-down spiritual life. His supernatural help, which we call grace—God’s very own power imparted to us—will help us to persevere and struggle through all challenges. We must cooperate with Him by utilizing this grace to reject sin, listen to His voice in our hearts and follow His guidance. We are thus enabled to persevere and be faithful. We experience His very real power that flows from our friendship with Him when we invest in our relationship with the Holy Spirit on a daily basis.
Prayer is the foundation for knowing and following the guidance of the Holy Spirit, especially by allowing times of silence in prayer. Silence leads to awareness and recognition of the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit, who will guide our actions toward what is true and good for us.
In every situation, we can pray silently, asking for the help of the Holy Spirit, because without God we are helpless—whether we know this or not. We can pray simply: “Holy Spirit please help me.” Or “Holy Spirit please guide me.” The Holy Spirit is known as our Helper, Advocate, Paraclete, Counselor, Guide, Comforter, Intercessor, Advocate and Strengthener. These names draw attention to all the ways the Holy Spirit will assist us. Jesus said, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another helper who will remain with you forever …You know and recognize Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.” (Jn 14:16-17)
In everyday situations, the Holy Spirit is concerned with the smallest details of life as well as the most significant decisions. One of the ways He helps us is by saving time through arranging circumstances, in creative and unique ways. Recently, I was at the hospital to pick up a pair of glasses. I had a strong sense that I should eat dinner there, which I normally would have never considered. While eating, I kept thinking, “What’s this all about?” As I left the cafeteria, I met my doctor, who told me she had been thinking about me and was going to have her staff contact me. But since I was there, she simply related the helpful and beneficial information that would have required setting up an appointment and making a special trip. It was amazing to me how this God-arranged encounter saved me an incredible amount of time, effort and concern—and money!
Director of the Office for Catechesis and Evangelization
Published in the April Catholic Life issue
Witness for Christ Conference:
The workings of the Holy Spirit are infinite. Anything that is truly helpful to our spiritual lives are inspired by Him in countless ways. One of these ways is an opportunity to experience His inner workings, giving us a deeper understanding of how He helps us battle the greatest obstacle in the spiritual life, which is discouragement. Father Timothy Gallagher, a world-class speaker and humble spiritual teacher who has a gift for speaking at a level that all can understand, will help us with “Overcoming Spiritual Discouragement” on Friday, Aug. 28 and Saturday, Aug. 29. Don’t miss this opportunity to let the Holy Spirit help you in this particular way. Go to diolc.org/witness for details and registration.