"The Spirit Blows Where It Will." John 3:8
I was on a walk last week through our neighborhood in East Harlem on a windy day. As I looked at the trees bending, the blossom petals falling, and even the litter flying down the street, I could not help but ponder how it is impossible to see the wind, yet we experience its effects.
At the start of Lent, the Church set before us in the liturgy the passage from Scripture where the Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted. We, too, were invited by the Holy Spirit to go into the desert with Jesus through intensified prayer, increased fasting, self-denial and works of mercy. And now hopefully we can see the effects of our desert journey – a deeper contrition for our sins, a more generous service of our neighbor, and a heart widened to receive more of what God longs to give us in our daily prayer.
If the Holy Spirit led us through the desert in Lent, the Holy Spirit now wants to lead us through this Easter season near streams of living water. If Lent is a time for purification and self-emptying, then Easter is a time for consolation and a more profound receptivity. A greater capacity was created in us through our Spirit-led Lenten observances to receive more and more of the Holy Spirit, to drink from His fulness, to be given a new heart.
As we approach the great Solemnity of Pentecost, let us pay attention to how the Holy Spirit is moving in our lives. How can we perceive the Spirit’s effects? How do we know if the Holy Spirit is leading us? St. Paul gives us a way to see if we are living by the Spirit in his letter to the Galatians. He writes: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”(Galatians 5:16-17, 22) If you can see these “fruits” increasing in your life, you are living by the Spirit, walking by the Spirit, being led by the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is blowing through the Church, through our world, and through the depths of your being. St. Ignatius of Antioch writes, “There is a living water in me that speaks and says to me from within: ‘Come to the Father.’” The Spirit’s desire for you is freedom – freedom to walk as you have been created and redeemed to be – as a child of God. The Father wills this for you, and it is the Holy Spirit who shows you the way.
Come, Holy Spirit, come!
Sr. Catherine Mary, CFR