One day, the Apostles ask of Jesus, “Lord, increase the faith within us.” And Jesus answers them with the parable of the mustard seed.
We too might be tempted to ask for a larger measure of the Holy Spirit to be capable of accomplishing great things. But let us first remember that the Holy Spirit is one of the three persons of the Trinity. When the Holy Spirit gives Himself, He gives Himself personally, without measure and in totality. He is a radical and full gift, an effective reflection of the absolute love of the Father and the Son.
The question, therefore, is more about the terrain in which the Holy Spirit wants to act, in this case — our lives. When we speak of the Holy Spirit filling us, traditionally this means it inhabits us, more than being a mere presence. So much so that in the footsteps of St. Paul we are able to say: “I live, but it is no longer I, it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). We should never cease to marvel at this immense reality.
We are made capable of carrying the supernatural presence of God in the depths of our being, which allows St. Augustine to say: “Ask your loins: if they are filled with charity, you have the Spirit of God.”
1. Making sure our soul is willing to receive the Holy Spirit
First of all, it is the Holy Spirit’s dwelling place that we must take care of, since He is to become “the very sweet guest of our souls,” to use the words of the Pentecost sequence. Is the hospitality that is our soul ready to welcome this Guest who knocks at the door? For if we make our souls hospitable, ready to welcome this Host who is the Holy Spirit, then this arrival will transform our lives and we will become holy.
2. Acknowledging the disorder of sin in our lives, asking God’s forgiveness
Keeping the dwelling tidy, making it pleasant with a good perfume, and so comfortable that it makes you want to stay there, all this requires our cooperation. Putting the dwelling in order means recognizing the disorder of sin in our lives, and asking for God’s forgiveness.
3. Carrying out acts of charity and benevolence
This is what make our soul more pleasant. It is not possible to be ready to open the door if we are constantly distracted.
4. Not forgetting to pray every day
Daily prayer helps us to be ready, when we cry out to God: “Come, come into us, sovereign consoler!” What we need to increase is our desire to receive Him, our ability to recognize His footsteps, and to hear Him knocking at the door of our soul.
St. Seraphim of Sarov, the great Russian mystic, speaks of this desire for the Spirit as a conquest: “The true goal of our Christian life is the conquest of the divine Spirit. Prayer, fasting, almsgiving, charity, and other good deeds in the name of Christ are ways of acquiring the divine Spirit …”
The Holy Spirit wants to act in every person of good will who wants to make their soul a pleasant dwelling place for God’s supernatural life. Make room for the Spirit; your joy will be immense.
Father Marc Fassier