3 Ways the Spirit Helps Us in Spiritual Warfare

3 Ways the Spirit Helps Us in Spiritual Warfare May 17, 2024

Augustine began to really change his mind about Christianity upon hearing the discourses of St. Ambrose in Milan. However, he was not ready for a moral conversion. He was living with a concubine and did not want to give up his sinful lifestyle. His prayer at the time is famous: “give me chastity, but not yet.” He went on to have a deep conversion and his writings have fed Western Christianity for over 1500 years. He gives us a good clue about how to engage in spiritual warfare.

Pentecost

As we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost, we should turn our minds to the works of the Holy Spirit. After Jesus ascended into heaven, his disciples felt alone. Instead of running away, they gathered in the Upper Room and prayed for the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate whom Jesus had promised. They were engaged in spiritual warfare, although enveloped by the peace that Jesus had left with them. We hear in today’s Gospel about one of the Resurrection appearances of Jesus.

Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” (Jn. 20:19)

Although Jesus wants us to fight a spiritual battle because he knows that sin is at the door (cf. Gen. 4:7), he wants us to go about our spiritual warfare in peace. How is this possible? This happens when we do our spiritual work accompanied and enlivened by the Holy Spirit. St. Paul reminds us that

the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).

The Holy Spirit is our greatest ally in spiritual warfare because he teaches, fills us with enthusiasm and possesses us, enabling us to live Christian life and engage in spiritual warfare with a guarantee of success.

Teaching of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit teaches us rightly. When we engage in spiritual reading or pick up the Bible, we do well to invoke the Holy Spirit. He is the greatest teacher. Even when we listen to a homily or another preaching, we should pray to the Holy Spirit, since his teaching is always greater than what the human preacher can tell us.

The Holy Spirit’s teaching is unction. He teaches us by pouring Himself into us gently and penetratingly (Luis Maria Martinez, True Devotion to the Holy Spirit, p. 18).

The Holy Spirit is able to take the words that we hear or our reflections and turn them into a teaching that becomes experience and transforms the way we look at our lives. His teaching is unction, anointing us to become true disciples of Jesus.

Dove represents the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit encourages us for spiritual warfare | Courtesy: Pixabay.com

Enthusiasm

One problem in our living of the faith is that we lack enthusiasm. We worry too much about fulfilling a list of regulations and do not allow God to fill us with enthusiasm. The Holy Spirit motivates us to live the faith with a light heart and with a holy curiosity.

With divine enthusiasm He comes to the soul — the soul, which is breath of the Most High, spiritual light that can merge with uncreated Light, and exquisite essence that can be transformed into Jesus, reproducing the eternal ideal. (Luis Maria Martinez, True Devotion to the Holy Spirit, p. 11)

When we begin to grow in holy curiosity, we read, study, listen to podcast, watch Youtube videos that feed our need for intellectual stimulation. We need to be learning constantly if we want to have a chance to be excited about the faith. The Hallow app can be a great help, offering daily reflections that feed our soul and stimulate our mind. This prepares us for an experience of God.

Each one of us has to stand up to the temptations of the enemy to discouragement. This is a huge part of our spiritual warfare. Often, the Devil does not need to lead us into great sin. He only needs us to become dejected and discouraged, so that we give up trying to be holy.

Divine Possession

God does not want to be merely a subject of study. He wants to possess us, because this helps us fulfill our purpose in life.

The Holy Spirit enters into the most interior part of our being, possesses us, lets Himself be possessed by us, and, in an embrace of divine love, produces in our souls the radiant transformation He desires (Luis Maria Martinez, True Devotion to the Holy Spirit, p. 41).

By entering into prayer with the Holy Spirit, we go beyond merely human works and begin to allow ourselves to be instruments of God in the world. We should desire radical spiritual transformation and the Holy Spirit is our greatest ally in accomplishing this work. None of us can make ourselves holy. We have to rely on God’s grace for the work of our sanctification. The Good News is that God is more anxious about our holiness and happiness than we are ourselves.

Being possessed by God in the Holy Spirit is the greatest victory in our spiritual warfare. We place ourselves firmly on God’s side and reject the temptations and evils proposed by the Devil. Make a habit of spiritual reading, and begin always by invoking the gentle presence of the Holy Spirit.

What do you think? Comment below.

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About Fr. Nicholas Sheehy, LC
Fr. Nicholas Sheehy was ordained a Catholic priest in 2013 for the Legionaries of Christ. He has been involved in youth work including missions, retreats and apostolic outreach in Germany, Italy, the United States and Central America. He is passionate about the New Evangelization and formation for young adults and married couples. He is a spiritual director and retreat director, offering marriage preparation and marriage counseling through the Divine Mercy Clinic and Family Center. He is currently Executive Director and Chaplain of the Newman Center at St. Philip the Apostle Parish in Pasadena, California. You can read more about the author here.
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