Day 5 – The Spirit makes us Holy

On Day 2 of this retreat, we said that when the Holy Spirit is active in our lives, we begin to have a new desire for holiness and a new thirst for prayers, reading the Scripture and receiving Sacraments. Today, we will talk about how the Holy Spirit makes us holy. Please note that we are not saying "how we make ourselves holy" but rather "how the Spirit makes us holy". There is a huge difference between the two. As we mentioned in our Pentecost retreat last year, attaining holiness is simply beyond what we can achieve by our own power. There is no single formula or set program to follow.

Just as we cannot change others no matter how hard we try, we also need the humility to admit that we cannot change ourselves without the help of the Spirit.

This is not a statement of hopelessness, but a great relief for all of us. It is the Spirit's job to change us and to mold us. All we need to do is not to resist Him as we surrender ourselves to allow the Spirit to "operate" on us. Simply put:

We should resist the temptation to attain holiness by ourselves. Let us be reminded that the Holy Spirit has more desire to sanctify us than ourselves. Our role is to become His collaborator.

What we can offer is our openness, humility, and our willingness to be changed. This change in attitude makes possible the Spirit's work upon us to sanctify us.

On our path to holiness, we will experience deeper conversion along the way. "This is often manifested in a newfound authority to resist sinful tendencies, a freedom from addictions or deep-rooted patterns of sin, and the healing of relationships, especially in marriage and family. Growth in holiness becomes less a matter of self-striving and more a yielding to the Holy Spirit. There is a new awakened attentiveness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, which leads to a deeper obedience to the Lord." (Extracted from Pages 18-19 of the book "Baptism in the Holy Spirit" by the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services Doctrinal Commission)

The Spirit formed us in our mother's womb according to the Father's design. When the Spirit looks at us, He does not focus on our past sins and present weaknesses. He sees how beautiful we will become when we are fully open to His transforming power.  He knows how we can reach our full potential in order to accomplish God's mission for us on earth. As such, there is no better way to attain holiness, that is to become the person we are called to be, than listening to and following the prompts of the Holy Spirit.

We need to learn to let go of control, following our own agenda or else the Spirit cannot enter into our lives to work on us.

At our baptism, the seven sanctifying gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to us to mold and transform us into the image and likeness of God. (Note: 7 sanctifying gifts: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.) By abiding in God like branches remaining in the Vine (cf. John 15:1-11), these gifts will help us bear great fruits. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

How well we cooperate with the Holy Spirit in using the seven sanctifying gifts for holiness can be gauged by how fruitful we are in bearing the fruit of the Spirit. It is really the evidence of our sanctification.

Every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.

(Matthew 7:17-18)

A healthy trait of someone thirsting for holiness is to follow role models. It is a sign of humility to be willing to be led. Saints, especially Mother Mary, offer us great examples that Holiness is possible in all circumstances, even amidst extreme sufferings and persecutions. It offers us hope as we struggle our way through trials and tribulations of our own. Here, the sanctifying gifts of wisdom and knowledge guide us in choosing which Saints to follow as we desire to choose God over earthly things, God's will over my will.

Remember, personal sanctification is a unique spiritual journey on our way back to the Father’s House. It is not a race nor can it be compared with those of others.

When God calls us to be perfect, what He hopes for is that we become who He wants us to be, which is our final destination.

 "Perfection is reached not so much by external conformity to an ideal as by inner faithfulness to God’s inspirations."

– Fr. Jacques Philippe

REFLECTION

It is good to examine on a daily basis how well we have done in terms of bearing the Fruit of the Spirit. Making this a habit greatly helps us to grow in holiness. Was I loving and kind to my family members?

Did I show patience and gentleness to those who have offended me?

Did I remain joyful and peaceful as I went through trials and tribulations?

TODAY'S PRAYER

Dear Holy Spirit, thank you for your perfect example of what it means to bear fruit in and through You. You showed patience and gentleness when I ignored Your prompts and went my own way. You withheld Your anger and continued to show kindness when I disappointed You. You have remained faithful and generous to me when I have rejected You and walked away. And most importantly, You love me the way I am when I feel unworthy of Your love! How could I treat You like that when You have given me everything in my best interest. O Spirit of the living God, help me surrender my control and lead me to a deeper obedience to Your holy prompts. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen!

Come Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, your well beloved spouse.

My beloved child, it has brought me great joy that you grant me permission to enter into your life. I want to assure you that I can help you attain holiness when you stay connected to me under all circumstances. My power and my grace are sufficient for you even when you feel weak and weary. Remain in me as I remain in you. I love you always!

Novena to the Holy Spirit:

Invocation Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love. O Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore you. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, and console me. Tell me what to do, direct my every choice. I promise to submit myself to all you desire of me and to accept all that you permit to happen to me. Let me only know your will. Grant this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Day Five Desiring the Spirit Thirst John 7: 37-39: On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and exclaimed, "Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as scripture says: Rivers of living water will flow from within him." He said this in reference to the Spirit that those who came to believe in him were to receive. There was of course no Spirit yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified.

Meditation: You need to be constantly recharged by the power of the Spirit of God. Commune with God in quiet times until the life from God, the Divine life, by that very contact, flows into your being and revives your fainting spirit. When weary, take time out and rest. Rest and gain power and strength from God and then you will be ready to meet whatever opportunities come your way. Rest, allowing every care and worry and fear to be enveloped by grace, then the tide of peace and serenity, love and joy will flow into your consciousness even in the midst of suffering. (2 Cor. 1:3-7)

Prayer of the Day: Lord, allow my thirst to be satisfied. May your Spirit direct my heart to be awakened. Allow me to seek you in all things and bring forth your kingdom on earth. I ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who, before ascending into heaven, did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of Your Apostles and Disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that He may perfect in my soul, the work of Your grace and Your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Your divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with You and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of Your true disciples and animate me in all things with Your Spirit. Amen.

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