When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled,
they were all in one place together.
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.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven
staying in Jerusalem.
At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd,
but they were confused
because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
They were astounded, and in amazement they asked,
“Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?
Then how does each of us hear them in his native language?
We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites,
inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene,
as well as travelers from Rome,
both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs,
yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues
of the mighty acts of God.”
Reading those words always fill me with wonder.
My heart is bursting with joy this morning because today, the universal Church celebrates Pentecost, the arrival of the Holy Spirit, whom our Lord Jesus Christ sends to be with us, always.
Given His importance, it is distressing how little we actually know about the Third Person of the Triune Godhead.
This much we know, from Jesus’ own words: The Holy Spirit is the Paraclete (advocate, counselor, comforter) and the “Spirit of truth”.
John 15:26-27; 16:12-15
Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father,
he will testify to me.
And you also testify,
because you have been with me from the beginning.
I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,
he will guide you to all truth.
He will not speak on his own,
but he will speak what he hears,
and will declare to you the things that are coming.
He will glorify me,
because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.
Everything that the Father has is mine;
for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine
and declare it to you.”
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth.
Let those words sink in . . . .
Recently, my husband, who late in life finally returned to God and the Church, expressed misgivings that he had spent most of his life not in service to God. But I reminded him that, on the contrary, he is serving Him because his life has been one of scholarship, in pursuit of the truth, and God is truth.
Given that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, it is important that we seek and heed His counsel.
But how? How do we listen, and how do we know when the Holy Spirit speaks?
Here are some suggestions from Charisma News and a few from my puny experience:
1. Pray for wisdom: “Come, Holy Spirit, come!” With sincerity and humility, ask the Holy Spirit to counsel, enlighten and guide you, especially when you have just received Holy Communion and/or before the Eucharist in the tabernacle.
2. Listen to the Spirit: The Holy Spirit speaks to us in many ways —
- In the Bible: God is always speaking through His Word. Apply what you read to your life and you’ll position yourself for additional truth and wisdom—no matter how God communicates it to you. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
- As a still, small voice in our mind.
- As a flash of understanding.
- In a dream or vision: St. Joseph was told by an angel to “not be afraid to take Mary as your wife” (Matthew 1:20). St. Peter fell into a trance (see Acts 10:10). St. Paul had supernatural encounters—whether in the body or out of the body, he did not know (see 2 Cor. 12:13). St. John wrote the entire book of Revelation based on a supernatural vision.
- Through our surroundings in our daily lives: God spoke to Solomon through his practical experiences, an account of which is in Proverbs 24:30-34: “I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; and it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles covered its surface, and the stone wall was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it; I looked on it and received instruction: Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep, so your poverty will come like a stalker, and your need as an armed man.” If you keep a listening ear, you’ll discover that God will speak to you through and about many things just as you go about your everyday life.
3. How do we know that it’s the Holy Spirit speaking to us:
- By the message’s goodness: Remember that the Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Triune Godhead. He will never counsel you to do ill or harm.
- By its persistence: When the Holy Spirit wants you to do something, He can be very, very persistent!
- By your sense of peace: When you listen and heed His counsel, your heart, mind and soul will be at peace. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with gratitude, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will protect your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:6-7.
For a beautiful prayer to the Holy Spirit, go here.
And if you are a lector/reader today (as I will be!) and you are uncertain as to how to pronounce words like “Elamites,” “Cappadocia” and “Cyrene,” go to this great website, Biblical Words Pronunciation Guide, where you can click on each word and hear it pronounced properly by a strong male voice.
May the Holy Spirit — the Spirit of Truth — and the joy and peace and love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you!