Breathe!: The Holy Spirit Moves on the Air

While going through things after my friend's mother-in-law died, this prayer to the Holy Spirit was found hand-written on well-worn stationery folded in her Bible. He didn't know the source of this prayer, but it was well-used, as though the prayer had been read many times:

Come Holy Spirit; fill my heart with your holy gifts.

 Let my weakness be penetrated with Your holy strength this very day, that I may fulfill all the duties of my state conscientiously, that I may do what is right and just. Let my charity be such as to offend no one, and to hurt no one's feelings, so generous as to pardon any wrong done to me.

 Assist me, Oh Holy Spirit in all my trials of life. Enlighten me in my ignorance; advise me in my doubts; strengthen me in my weakness; help me in all my needs; protect me in temptations; and console me in afflictions.

 Graciously hear me, oh Holy Spirit, and put your light into my heart, my soul, and in my mind. Assist me to live a holy life, and to grow in goodness and grace. Amen.

 At Pentecost we focus on God's power as manifested through the Spirit. As Jesus is the only begotten Son is the Word of God incarnate, so the Spirit in Greek translated is pneuma, which means wind, breath, to breathe. "Holy" in English is translated from the Greek as "set-apart."

This Sunday's Gospel reading from John 20:21-22 is one of my favorite scriptural depictions of the Holy Spirit: the Breath of God.

 Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that He breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit . . . "

The reading in Acts 2: 1-11 describes the descent of God's Spirit upon Jesus' followers as a sound "like a strong driving wind" that filled the whole house, coming to rest on each of them like tongues of fire. God's power was given to them, and gave them courage to go out to do what Jesus had called them to do in their mission. The apostles were simple people who—until they were given His Spirit—didn't comprehend all that Jesus had meant, even though they lived with Him, and witnessed all He did. Now they finally understood, and they found they had the words to speak to others of all this with conviction, and courage.

When I am working outside in my yard, I hear the wind blowing through the trees on the hill behind our house, and I feel it on my face. Air—like the Spirit—is invisible, but it can be seen, heard, and felt through its effects.

God "speaks" in many ways. Sometimes it is through something a friend says at the right moment, or what we hear on the radio. We can be praying for a situation for ourselves, or for someone else, and we hear just the right Scripture verse, or just the right word, and become inspired. These might be called coincidences, but I call them "God moments," or "God-incidences."

I had one of those moments this last weekend, at the Marriage Encounter weekend on which Ed and I acted as a "team couple." In one of my talks I added a line that seemed to fit what I was saying, but hadn't been included in my prepared remarks. I thought nothing about it until later at lunch; a couple who ate with us at our table picked up on this specific line, and asked us about this event. They were dealing with the same situation in their family, and asked us how we handled it.

In a way, we are like the apostles, before Pentecost. We don't always know understand what God is doing, or how He is using us until we experience the aftereffects, when the Holy Spirit allows us to see, and comprehend.

The Spirit is the invisible power of God actively moving through our lives. Breathing is necessary for our physical life, as is God's Holy Spirit for our spiritual life if we choose to follow Him. God guides us, and sends His gifts of the Holy Spirit often in a quiet way like a whisper or breeze, but we have to be paying attention to be able to perceive it!

6/9/2011 4:00:00 AM
  • Catholic
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  • Marcia Morrissey
    About Marcia Morrissey
    Marcia Morrissey is a wife, mother, and grandmother of two sweet little granddaughters in Minnesota. Her husband, Ed Morrissey, is a writer for