I walked along the edge of the water, approaching the park bench with trepidation. The sun reflected off the lake and covered the top of the water in bright bursts of light. The day was warm and lovely. However, amid the beauty my dear friend sat, hunched on the bench, shoulders shaking as she sobbed uncontrollably. Her eyes were swollen and bleary. Her face etched with anguish. She was experiencing deep suffering in her marriage.
Remembering the Holy Spirit
As I sat beside her, she placed her trembling hand in mine. Her words spilled out and her tears flowed. I felt myself trying to catch everything she was saying. Trying to think of a way to respond that would ease her burden. Trying to hold this sorrow-filled conversation in my inadequate hands.
Doubt and apprehension seeped into my heart. I was worried I would say the wrong thing. Worried that my lack of wisdom would further wound her heart.
However, the warmth from the summer breeze reminded me of the presence of the Holy Spirit. It reminded me of the great Helper, who blessed the Apostles with tongues of fire. By the power of the Holy Spirit they went forth and proclaimed the Gospel with their hearts enflamed with His gifts. This is the same Spirit that we meet as the healing waters of Baptism flow over our heads. The same Spirit that is nourished within us when we receive the Eucharist. The same Spirit that we are sealed with at our Confirmation.
Asking for His Gifts
The gifts of the Holy Spirit—wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord—are supernatural graces that are available to us. In that moment, I needed to be reminded of the power of the Holy Spirit. I needed the reminder to ask Him to sanctify my words, to sanctify that conversation, and to bless my tongue with His holy fire so that I would say what He desired. I needed to ask Him to bless and move in my every thought and pray by His power my words would be a healing balm to my friend.
The Holy Spirit, the mighty Comforter, was with us.
How would our conversations go if we intentionally invited the Holy Spirit to guide us? If we asked for a generous outpouring of His gifts before we spoke?
Imagine how arguments, misunderstandings, and all the challenging conversations that we encounter in daily life would be transformed and anointed.
Not Relying on Our Own Strength
We can feel a deep sense of worry, confusion, or frustration when we must discuss something difficult or painful. In our overwhelm, our words might be laced with anger, or escape us completely as we find ourselves sinking into the abyss of uncertainty. Uncertainty about how to approach a conversation in a way that is loving and charitable. Uncertainty about how to comfort someone who is hurting. Uncertainty about how to share our own hearts, especially when we are deeply longing to do so.
Praying for an increase in the gifts of the Holy Spirit and opening our hearts to be receptive to His movements and promptings will bless our conversations.
A Daily Practice
How do we do this in a practical sense? Stay close to the Sacraments. The Sacraments shower us with grace, which allows these gifts to grow deep roots in the rich soil of our souls.
Think of the sweet, life-giving breath of Jesus entering your soul and enkindling the Spirit within you. Each time you receive His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity your soul is set ablaze with His love. Each time you approach the Sacrament of Penance, and His healing mercy floods your repentant heart, your soul is set ablaze with His love.
I also encourage you to cultivate silence in your daily life. I know this is challenging in our very noisy world. Noise seems to intrude whether we desire it or not. Our lives feel full and busy. We may have little ones to tend to, work to finish, meetings to attend, and people to serve. I share this same struggle. Give yourself grace, and even if you are setting aside only a few minutes of silence at a time initially, trust in what Jesus can do with that time. Stepping away from the noise and entering prayerful silence gives us the chance to recognize the movements of the Holy Spirit. Silence allows us to see all the beautiful ways that gifts of the Holy Spirit are pouring into our souls and gives us the space to nurture them with prayer. We become more attentive listeners, and we can have conversations that are pleasing to the Lord.
Ask the Holy Spirit to sanctify your day. Ask Him to sanctify your words and your thoughts. Ask for the fire of His love to be on your tongue as you speak. Ask Him to be present in every conversation and to help you speak in a way that glorifies God.
Turn to the Spirit, sisters. Turn with your whole heart. Our Lord is a generous giver. He desires to make you holy. He desires to give you the graces you need to become a saint. Come, Holy Spirit.
Have you ever seen the help of the Holy Spirit in the midst of a difficult conversation?