Just as baseball players head to spring training to practice and prepare for their upcoming season, might I suggest spring training for something a little different: being led by the Holy Spirit.
After Deacon Ralph Poyo lead my parish’s mission one year, the message that spoke directly to me was that we need to be a people and a parish that is led by the Holy Spirit. If we don’t ask for the Holy Spirit to guide us in all things, we will not become the vibrant, welcoming parish we desire and the saints we are meant to be.
For example, after the second evening of the mission when Deacon Ralph talked about spiritual warfare, I commented to him that I had dreamt about demons afterward. I asked him, “Is this something I should be worried about?” He said, “I’m not who you should be asking. Who should you be asking instead?” So I immediately replied that oh I should probably talk with our pastor. He said, nope! Then I realized I should be talking to God and he clarified that I should ask the Holy Spirit specifically. Light bulb moment!
The Challenge of Being Holy Spirit-Led
Living guided by the Holy Spirit is not easy, as it’s not how we usually live our life. Rather, we tend to think what do I want right now and how can I get it? Or what do my kids want and how can I get it for them?
But we have to relinquish that “me, me, me” self-centered way of life and change it to “He, He, He.” 🙂 That requires some serious spring training for all of us to get into spiritual shape!
What does it mean to live guided by the Holy Spirit? It means asking His guidance in all things. I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember to throw the empty shampoo bottle in the shower into the recycling bin! So remembering to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance before all things? That’s going to take some practice with undoubtedly a few curve balls along the way.
If we want to live “Holy Spirit-led,” then we have to turn it into a habit; we’ve got to get to the point that it’s just a part of our “swing.” That means at least three weeks of doing this on a regular basis until it becomes ingrained in our day-to-day activity so we no longer have to exert effort to make it happen. That takes practice!
And not only do we have to remember to ASK, we have to remember to take time to LISTEN for His answers and then ACT on them. I pray everyday to Mary for the grace to better discern God’s will for me, to actually DESIRE His will for me and then to have the courage to DO His will for me.
Spring Training Exercises to be Holy Spirit-Led:
First, we have to have give the reigns of our lives over to God, allowing him permission to guide us. THEN here are some other ideas and suggestions…
- Go to daily mass as often as you can and present your questions during mass
- Spend some time in the Blessed Sacrament at the beginning or end of your day, lifting up your thoughts to the Holy Spirit
- In the book “Walking with Purpose: Seven Priorities That Make Life Work” by Lisa Brenninkmeyer (Beacon Publishing, 2013), which is free on DynamicCatholic.com, she suggests taking some morning prayer time to do the following:
- Using a journal, write a note to God/Holy Spirit about any worries, concerns or direction that you need.
- Write down a list of what you need to pray for daily. She includes:
- Help she needs in her relationship with God
- Help in her marriage (or vocation)
- Prayers for her children
- Prayers for her home
- Prayers for outside relationships (or anyone you feel called to pray for that day)
- Prayer that God will be the priority in all things
- You could also add prayer for work related items
- Read the Bible – You can read the daily readings or follow a Bible Reading Plan like the one from the Coming Home Network. Look for answers from the Holy Spirit.
- Before major discussions, emails and phone calls, stop and say a prayer for those involved and that God’s will be done.
- Pray the Angelus at noon – Set a timer on your phone and stop and pray this short prayer in solidarity with others around the world.
- Pray one of the Liturgy of the Hours – Download the Laudate app on your smart phone and stop and pray at 6 a.m., 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m., 6 p.m. or 9 p.m.
- Pray your calendar each day. Stop and review your calendar, praying for each person you will meet or talk with that day.
- Daily Reflection/Examination of Conscience – Matthew Kelly’s Dynamic Catholic offers a great Prayer Process you can complete upon the close of the day, examining what you did and did not do to be the best version of yourself, pray for others, thank God for what you are grateful for that day, etc.
- Go to Reconciliation monthly, so you can properly “hear” the Holy Spirit rather than have Him be clouded out by sin, even little ones.
- Receive the Eucharist as often as you can to continue to cleanse yourself of sin and receive grace from God.
- Engage in spiritual reading and look for answers from the Holy Spirit.
After You Listen, Put What You Learned Into Practice
These exercises help us make time to ask and listen to the Holy Spirit, but then it’s time to ACT, which can be the toughest part.
You’re going to be out on the field, in front of everyone, putting into action all that you’ve learned in training and following the coach’s (Holy Spirit) orders even if you don’t like them.
The Holy Spirit puts me outside of my comfort zone all the time in what He asks of me. I have slowly adopted the attitude that it does not matter what others think, only what God thinks of what I am doing.
So, as an introvert, if I feel afraid to introduce myself to someone, that they might think I’m being too forward or strange, it doesn’t matter, or as embarrassment and anxiety creep in, I try to just let those feelings go.
I have to be at peace knowing that I was trying to do what God asked and know that He will be pleased no matter what anyone else may think — and even if I feel embarrassed or silly as a result (believe me, that happens most of the time!). That is truly all that matters.
Are you ready to be Holy Spirit-led? It’s critical if we want to become the saints God desires us to be. Let us let Him lead us to the Promised Land but first let the spring training begin!