[gtranslate] The Holy Spirit is Being Unleashed Today - Eglise Catholique Saint James (Saint Jacques)

The Holy Spirit is Being Unleashed Today

The Holy Spirit is Being Unleashed Today

The Most Holy Trinity wants to unleash supernatural power in our lives through the Holy Spirit. Do we truly believe this? For the longest time, I didn’t. I thought the spiritual life was going to Mass, praying, and serving, but that God would not show up in ways that defy my pre-conceived notions about Him. I believed that miracles are only for those few holy saints God chooses. The Sacraments are the ordinary means of grace, but I didn’t truly believe that they unleashed power in any tangible way that I could experience except for the occasional consolations after receiving Holy Communion and Confession. I thought that the Faith needed to be reasonable and rational. I placed the Holy Spirit in a box of my own making and spent much of my life essentially living as an agnostic without realizing it. I think that a lot of Catholics live this way today.

When I was in middle school and high school, all of my friends were born-again evangelicals. The Catholics seemed to be at church only because their parents forced them to go through preparation for sacraments they didn’t want to receive. Not much has changed in 30 years, unfortunately. At school, they were the kids who partied and got into trouble. I wasn’t interested in being a part of that group, so I became friends with the evangelicals.

I attended their youth groups, retreats, and camps. We debated theology. I would argue with their parents about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and papal authority. They were deeply committed to their Christian faith, even though I knew it lacked completeness. I often attended their praise and worship nights and prayer sessions. I enjoyed the music, but I was suspicious of what I perceived as emotionalism. The laying of hands was foreign to me.

I knew it is much too easy to reduce God to our emotional experiences. I think this is a very real danger in these settings, but I also think we have a tendency to downplay when the Holy Spirit does show up in powerful ways. Some of this is not grounded in truth, but rather, fear and a lose of control. The Holy Spirit’s workings aren’t neat, contained, and lacking in emotion. The Holy Spirit reaches us in our full humanity, and He shows up in ways that take us far outside our comfort zones.

I spent decades developing a hyper-intellectual faith. I relied on Thomistic principles to keep me from any sense of emotionalism or experience of God that I thought was sentimental or emotional. This fear-based way of living and my desire to control God through a rational Faith did me tremendous harm. I knew a lot about God, but my heart was not on fire in love with Him. I created a god of my own making. I didn’t realize how cold my heart became in this hyper-intellectual faith. Anything that didn’t fit my idea of God was quickly jettisoned.

This is a danger that is very prevalent in the Church today as we seek to seem overly reasonable to the culture. We have jettisoned the supernatural in order to fit in with a world that only sees the natural. This is to take the very heart out of a life with the Most Holy Trinity. It is to make our all loving and powerful Triune God very small.

While the teachings of the Church are reasonable, a life in the Holy Spirit is not something we control or contain. In fact, it can be downright weird, crazy, and is often, unexpected. We are called to live supernatural lives. Not lives of functional agnosticism where we think the Holy Spirit will only call us to what is comfortable, easy, or what we see as rational. He often calls us to do things that are deeply uncomfortable and that seem crazy to a world of reductionism and scientism—or even to a Church that for decades has put the supernatural in the backroom, somewhere with the Tabernacle.

In order to teach me this truth, the Holy Spirit had to break into my life in a powerful way. He had to destroy the box I had put Him into and place me firmly on the roller coaster that is a life in the Spirit. Since I battle the need to control and reason through everything, He chose to start working in supernatural ways in my sleep. I started experiencing prophetic dreams that would come true months later. To make it even more uncomfortable, through Our Lady’s nudges, the Spirit would send me to share the dreams with the people they were meant for. And to make it even more uncomfortable, it started with priests during COVID.

The Lord wanted me to understand that He is ultimately in control. That His plans are so much greater than my own. That He is not concerned with what is comfortable for me. He is only concerned about me following His will. He wants me to grow in humility and docility to His working rather than seeking my own plans in my own way. He also taught me that it is up to the other person to accept His gifts, not me. It’s not about me at all.

After a few years, I discovered that countless others have experienced a supernatural inbreaking of the Holy Spirit, or what the charismatic movement calls “baptism in the Spirit.” My experience of baptism in the Spirit occurred during Mass in 2018, and things got wilder and more powerful as time went on. More and more people started sharing with me their own experiences of the Holy Spirit, including dreams similar to my own. After all, God has worked in dreams throughout all salvation history. Our culture has over psychologized them to the point that we are no longer aware of God’s working in them. It is true that most dreams are nonsense, but there is a quality to prophetic dreams that is completely different.

As time went on, even greater workings of the Holy Spirit started to surround me. I witnessed healings and radical transformations. I attended the Encounter Conference with my family and multiple priests and seminarians. I finally saw the Acts of the Apostles being lived in a powerful way.

For years, I’d sit at daily Mass throughout the Easter season and wonder why we no longer believed in God’s supernatural power. But I later discovered that the Acts of the Apostles is still being lived today. The Lord is working in powerful ways to rouse this world dead in sin. Apostolic Ages always include great supernatural power for the building up of the Church and the conversion of souls. The Holy Spirit wants to unleash power in us and in the world in order to bring souls to Christ. We have to stop putting the Holy Spirit in a box because a life in the Spirit makes us uncomfortable and because we will suffer for it just like the Early Church.

I have now seen multiple priests, seminarians, and members of the laity enter into lives in the Spirit because the Lord planted a seed in them through my willingness to “be weird” and share my own experiences. One of my spiritual priest sons went from thinking my experiences were bizarre to being one of the leaders of the Charismatic Renewal in his diocese because he experienced an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in such a powerful way that it transformed his life and gave him supernatural vision. He and I both went from skeptics to people who firmly believe God is working in powerful, supernatural ways today.

Mistakes were made in previous generations that turned the charismatic gifts into false idols, which resulted—along with the overemphasis on science—to a de-emphasis on charismatic gifts from the Holy Spirit. The charismatic gifts are not about us. They are given to us, so they can be given away. Have I made mistakes in discernment? Absolutely. These were needed lessons in humility. Have I encountered people who are not open to gifts the Holy Spirit wants to give to them through me? Yes, multiple times. Is it easy to live this way? No, but I would rather live a supernatural life in the Spirit than return to my hyper-intellectual faith that led me to essentially live as an agnostic in the pews.

The world is starving and thirsting for Christ. Pentecost serves in driving the Church out into the world. We have become locked in our churches. We are trapped in the Upper Room. We don’t want to be unpopular. We don’t want to lose our status, comfort, or wealth. We don’t want to seem weird. We are clinging to what Christ has given us, rather than giving it away.

To be Christian is to be weird. Gloriously weird. Christianity inverts everything of this world, which means in this world, Christianity is weird, uncomfortable, strange, and will lead to people hating us. It is precisely this counter-cultural, counter-worldly way of living that leads people to Christ. The sameness with the world that we have been living has led people to leave the Church in droves. People are hungering for a radical encounter with Christ. To truly see Him fully present in the Holy Eucharist, not intellectually, but with supernatural vision.

The Apostles and other disciples in the Early Church fully embraced their calling from God. They were nourished in the Eucharist, sought forgiveness in Confession, baptized, confirmed, anointed, married, and ordained, but they also embraced the supernatural gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. They went out in the power of the Holy Spirit and proclaimed the Good News through signs, wonders, and preaching. All of this was to point at God. The same is true today. Manifestations of the Spirit at work are meant to lead people to God. Can this be abused? Yes. Can the devil mimic these things at times? Yes. We are still called to be a people immersed in the supernatural life of the Spirit. We know the truth of a gift by the fruits.

If we don’t truly expect God to show up through our prayers, the Sacraments, service, or gifts of the Spirit, then we don’t fully believe in God’s power. We don’t believe Him when He says He will come. We don’t believe His workings at Pentecost. We are agnostics who are going through the motions of Catholicism. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit is not at odds with the rich intellectual tradition of the Church. It was the Holy Spirit who inspired the great theologians and doctors of our Church. Not to mention that most of them experienced supernatural gifts of the Spirit in their lives.

The Lord wants to pour an abundance of gifts and graces into our lives. He wants to reach others through our radical surrender to His workings. The Holy Spirit is not tame. He cannot be controlled or confined to a box. He will blow where He wills. We only have to relinquish our desire for control, invite Him in, and be prepared for a wild, but joyous ride.

Photo by Cullan Smith on Unsplash

Seeking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary through prayer