Making the Holy Spirit Your Guide in the New Year
The beginning of the new year naturally leads in new directions as we reflect on the previous year and set resolutions for the next. This is true both in the natural realm as well as the spiritual. There is no doubt that we have a multitude of goals for the next year. To be a better parent, better time manager, exercise more, lose some weight, and the list goes on and on. Within our spiritual lives there can be no better list of goals than the one proposed by St. Paul; “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
Let the Spirit be your guide:
I want to encourage you to let the Holy Spirit be your guide for the new year, for He is the One who will cultivate all these gifts and many more in your life. In this regard I would like to offer 5 practical tips for letting the Spirit be the guide of your spiritual life throughout the upcoming year.
Read a book that highlights the work of the Holy Spirit today:
The Holy Spirit is the often-overlooked member of the Trinity. It is much easier to relate to Jesus for “He is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15) and “one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) Likewise, the image of the Father resonates deeply within our hearts. Even if our experience of our natural fathers is less than perfect, we all long for the father from the parable of the prodigal son.
It can be more difficult to relate to the Holy Spirit. Tongues of fire can be difficult to grasp or love. But the Holy Spirit is essential. For the Spirit is the activator! Like tongues of fire, the Spirit brings both heat and light to our spiritual lives. In other words, to quote the Home Depot, the Spirit is the “Doer who gets things done”.
However, the Holy Spirit can be difficult to relate to for the modern world is infused with a skeptical mindset. One which is predisposed to solely material causes and seeks to explain away or ignore the spiritual. As such it is extremely important to be reminded of the visible and continued action of the Holy Spirit today. One of the best ways to do this is to read a book that highlights the continued work of the Holy Spirit. I would like to suggest two: The Spiritual Gifts Handbook: Using Your Gifts to Build the Kingdom by Randy Clark and Mary Healy and Eyewitness to Miracles: Watching the Gospel Come to Life by Randy Clark. Both are easy to find on Amazon highlight many active works of the Holy Spirit today.
With others and for others:
Often times, we are in the habit of telling others we will offer our prayers for them. I cannot count the times I have told someone I would offer my rosary for them. This is a great practice. However, we rarely stop to pray with people directly.
A second way to encounter the Holy Spirit is by praying for others with others. That is praying with the individual directly. This is a great way to experience the movement of the Holy Spirit. Simply stop with the individual, recollect yourself in a moment of silence, and then begin to pray.
Doing this provides the Holy Spirit the opportunity to take the initiative and you will grow in your ability to listen to the Holy Spirit as he directs your prayers. Praying together is additionally an act of faith on your part as it is an act that declares your belief in the continued action of the Holy Spirit even at the risk that your prayer will not be directly answered.
If praying for another is scary for you, start small. Start with members in your own family. Begin with your children. I can promise you they will love being prayed for. Then pray for your spouse. Our parish has recently started a ministry in which teams remain after mass to pray with and for the needs of other church members. Even in a very short time, we have witnessed the power of the Spirit working in our prayers for others.
Memorize a prayer to the Holy Spirit:
Here is one I really like which is attributed to St. Augustine and is available at https://www.daily-prayers.org/father-son-holy-spirit/breathe-into-me-holy-spirit/
Breathe into me Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may be holy.
Move in me, Holy Spirit, that my work too, may be holy.
Take my heart, Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy.
Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy.
Protect me, Holy Spirit, that I may always be holy.
This prayer could be an excellent way to start a time of daily personal prayer.
Ask the Holy Spirit for particular graces during your time of daily personal prayer:
One practice that has been suggested to me is to begin each period of daily prayer by asking the Holy Spirit to bestow a particular grace. These graces can take many forms. It may be as simply as an insight into a problem at work or a greater awareness of the presence of God within my time of prayer.
The practice of invoking the Holy Spirit:
A common practice amongst many saints has been to utter a prayer every time a particular action is undertaken. In this way, they have kept the Lord ever present throughout the day. For instance, some have practiced making the sign of the cross every time they entered or exited a new room. This is an easy practice that we too can adopt.
Invoking the Holy Spirit is as simple as quietly saying, “Come Holy Spirit.” Perhaps, this phrase can become your motto. Say it every time you leave the house or get into your car and in this way invite you can invite the Holy Spirit to come with you and guide every action you take as you travel throughout your day.
And so, I wish you a most blessed new year and hope these spiritual practices draw you closer to the Holy Spirit and help you to let the Spirit guide you in all your endeavors.