Lent is the yearly retreat for Christians all over the world. If we take a pass on Lent, then we miss out on an opportunity for tremendous spiritual growth. The practices of prayer, fasting, and charity help open our spirit up to God. Sometimes, people will come to daily Mass during Lent. Others will pray the Rosary more frequently, or read the Scriptures. These are all wonderful practices. My thought to pass along today is to ask for a greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit during Lent.
The Holy Spirit can help us to be honest with ourselves. There are many people who will not admit that they are sinners. For whatever reason, they cannot bring themselves to face their sins. Still many others will not come to Confession. The Holy Spirit can give us the wisdom and the courage to overcome our pride. There is a tremendous stubbornness in each of us. We spend a lot of energy convincing ourselves that we are right, and everyone else is wrong. This is a waste. When we are stuck in our sins, we become mired in depression, guilt, and insecurity. When we are stuck in our sins, we live outside of God’s grace. We need to be honest, and admit that we need a Savior. The Holy Spirit, “the Spirit of Truth, will guide you to truth” (John 16:13).
After repenting from our sins, we need to turn to Jesus. The gifts of the Holy Spirit that we receive at Confirmation are wisdom, knowledge, counsel, understanding, piety, fortitude, and fear of the Lord. These gifts give us the strength to choose Christ. Do you have a relationship with Jesus Christ? This is not some kind of cosmic relationship with Jesus. This relationship is meant to be personal. After all, Jesus died for you! He didn’t just die for a large number of nameless, faceless individuals. He died for each of us. He died for you. He died for me. He did not need to die. He didn’t even need to become a man. He became a man to die – for you! His offering on the Cross was the perfect offering that reconciled humanity and divinity. Now that Jesus has risen and is alive, we too will rise with Him! But in order to receive this greatest of gifts, you and I must embrace Christ now.
This idea of turning from sin to Jesus is considered “old school” today. It is almost embarrassing in some circles to talk about such things. You would think that all Christians would grasp this most important doctrine of Christianity, but somehow not all do. I would challenge anyone to use Christian doctrine to demonstrate that there is any other way to be saved other than Jesus Christ. Without Christ, no one, no matter what their religion affiliation (or none at all) would be able to be saved. All salvation that goes to every person passes through Jesus’ hands. The Holy Spirit, to use my own words, wraps that salvation in a package for each person who receives it. The Spirit helps us to receive salvation in a way that we can understand.
The Holy Spirit also moves us to reach out and tell the Good News. We know that the first thing that Peter did after he received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost was to preach and baptize. This is our example to follow.
The Holy Spirit gives us the tools to help others. The gift of counsel, a gift of the Spirit, helps us to guide others in following Christ. The Holy Spirit will help us to find the right words to say when none come to mind. The Holy Spirit can turn a timid person into a preacher! Each of us can be given aid by the Spirit to help the spiritually and physically needy.
Let the Holy Spirit be your guide during this Lenten season. You will find that the Spirit will plug you into the powerhouse of grace, and give you a line to the Father’s love. May you be unafraid to ask for the Spirit’s gifts.