And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.
They were filled with wisdom, allowing them to see the world and all things in it as God sees it. They were given the understanding of the truths revealed by Christ through His teachings and His Passion. They were given counsel, enabling them to know what actions to take in any situation. They were filled with fortitude, providing them the strength to carry out those actions in the face of adversity. They were infused with knowledge to know God’s purpose and will for them and to judge all things according to Christ’s truth. They were filled with piety, the willingness and desire to worship and serve God, and love Him and obey Him as a loving Father. And they were consumed with the fear of the Lord, on overwhelming respect and love for our Father in Heaven. On this day, the Apostles were given these seven gifts, the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, and our Faith was born. Our Church was born. And the world has never been the same.
It may seem so supernatural, so amazing how the Apostles were consumed with the Holy Spirit, through “tongues of fire.” Surely, most of us today and in the millennia prior never experience the Spirit in this way. But that does not make the Holy Spirit any less real. It does not make the power one feels when consumed by the Holy Spirit any less amazing. But I think for many of us, the Holy Spirit is often the overlooked portion of the Holy Trinity. In the Old Testament, we had God performing miracles like parting the Red Sea and speaking to and through the Prophets. In the time of the Gospels of the New Testament, we have God on the Earth, in human form. But after Christ’s Ascension, we have the Holy Spirit, which had been and continues to be the primary presence of God in the world and our Faith today.
But it’s difficult, because we can’t see Him. We can’t touch Him. But He is there, around us, and within us, giving us the signs we seek and the nudges we need to do God’s will. And while Christ is no longer living in this world among us, the Holy Spirit is here in full force, wanting to unleash that same perfection upon us – to give us the wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord that can enable us to do and experience some pretty great things. But we have to be open to it. We have to seek it. We need to desire and receive that abundance of grace through the sacraments – things like regularly receiving the Eucharist, frequent Reconciliation, and truly embracing our Marriage Sacrament. All of this, coupled with regular prayer and filling our minds with the Word of God will turn this actual grace into sanctifying grace that purifies our soul, and makes us holy.
This is all possible. We can experience the same thing the Apostles did. It may not seem possible, but faith in Him makes it possible. God gave ordinary men – fishermen , craftsmen, and the like – the ability to know and understand extraordinary things and say and do them in ways never thought possible. They had become one with Christ through the Holy Spirit, and He was in them. And they spread it across the world. The Holy Spirit emphasized each one of their individual talents, the things they do well, and enabled them to use those talents perfectly to spread the Gospel, to the best of their ability. They found peace, and calm, and joy, and serenity in our Lord through the Holy Spirit and no matter what came their way, they had a warmness and a calmness with which they encountered those trials and obstacles.
This is our biggest challenge in the world we live in today. How do we encounter the world and everything in it, the good the bad and the ugly with peace, joy, and calm? How do we find serenity in a world that is full of commotion and turmoil? How do we, ordinary men and women, achieve those seven gifts of the Holy Spirit? How do we become disciples of Christ and use our talents to the best of our ability and become one with Christ, one with our Faith, and one with each other? How do we let the Holy Spirit even speak to us amidst all the noise and temptations in a world that fights against the Spirit? How do we, the average people that we are, even know what the Spirit feels like and how do we experience Him?
We let the Spirit find us. We let the spirit come to us. We slow down and take timeout in our lives. We pray, and read scripture. But most importantly, we let the Spirit come to us through our Faith, and though the Sacraments, frequently receiving the Eucharist and regular Confession. And through all of this we let the Spirit fill us from within. We let that actual grace turn into that sanctifying grace that purifies our soul so much we just can’t hold it all in. And then we let it pour out in everything we do – the mundane tasks of daily life. Our work. The relationships we have with our families, friends, and co-workers. We let it pour out in thanksgiving for the blessings we have been given.
In the midst of trials and adversity, just as the Disciples were afraid, sitting, waiting in the upper room, we let it pour out in hope and love of God, that even if we don’t know why something is happening, we trust that the Holy Spirit will guide us and console us. The Disciples waited in hope, that Christ would fulfill His promise that His spirit would come again. And so they waited, and no doubt, spent a lot of the time in silent prayer. But they were devoted, and had faith. And then the Spirit came and they were consumed with those seven gifts, and their hearts were filled with joy, and calm, and peace. They had serenity in the Holy Spirit, and they let it pour out.
I think of this, and I think of my own experiences and how much more I have to grow. All of us need to seek the Spirit and God’s will and discern what way we are to let His Love and Spirit pour out of us. For me, one way is through my writing, pure and simple. Writing is my passion and is a way that I can express the thoughts in my head in ways that I could never speak. God has blessed me with the ability to do a lot of writing recently, especially in spreading His message. For some of you, maybe speaking is a better means. For others, acts of service and charity through whatever gift or talent God gave you is how you let it pour out. But the point is, we must not keep His Spirit bottled up inside. His message needs to really be expressed in all we do. We all have the duty to have faith in the Holy Spirit and let Him guide us, even if we do not understand, even if it may be scary.
If we have full faith in the Spirit, we will know what to do and we will know what to say, and we will be consumed by Him. It will be the warmest, most joyful, most peaceful, most emotional, and most influential experience we can attain. At times in my life when I have experienced the Holy Spirit – and believe me they are becoming much more frequent as I am more open to Him – often I cannot even find the words to express the feeling I have. But I just want to let it pour out to the world to the best of my ability. This is just a fraction of how the Apostles felt. But it’s also something we can attain, and we can attain it over and over, and it gets stronger each time. These gifts of the Holy Spirit come infused in us, and one with us. It becomes our serenity, a serenity that is there in all we do. A serenity we want to share with the world.