Sherry Antonetti is a freelance writer, blogger and published author of The Book of Helen. She lives just outside of Washington, DC with her husband and their ten children.
Anyone who received the gift of Confirmation, received the gifts of the Holy Spirit — wisdom, knowledge, understanding, fear of the Lord, counsel, fortitude and piety. These gifts remain with us, and are intended (then and now) to be used to build up the body of Christ. The how of the particulars in any of our plans is something we discern over time. Most of us engage in a lot of trial and error style discernment and settle on what we do with ease. However, what comes easy is not necessarily the plan God prepared for us when giving us His Holy Spirit.
So, how does one know what it is God seeks for us to do in this life? Few of us receive visits from angels explaining the details. Few of us get knocked to the ground, stricken blind and receive direct instruction from Our Lord, or receive tongues of fire enabling us to speak to all people. So how do we attune our ears to hear and our eyes to see, so that we can answer the call when Christ asks? How do we know God is asking? Or what is being asked by the Holy Spirit?
First, prepare yourself for an unexpected journey. You will be taking your first step into a larger world. We know first from the Acts of the Apostles how the Holy Spirit works. It brings us to others and invites us to engage in performing the corporal and spiritual acts of mercy. The Holy Spirit seeks to create community, heals wounds and reveal virtues. The Holy Spirit breathes life into our lives, with the fruits being patience, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The Holy Spirit sends us out to find and begin to fill that need, and to bring others along, so that more of the need can be filled.
We also know from our faith that God is three, so any actions the Holy Spirit asks of us will involve serving others in some sense, even if it is by prayer and contemplation or in desert places. We must trust that the Holy Spirit wills only our good. The question will be: Will we allow ourselves to be used by God, and will we recognize that honor and glory goes to God? There will always be the temptation, with success, to ascribe the praise to ourselves for our efforts, which would render our acts, worldly pursuits receiving worldly pay and praise, and robbing us of the true treasure in the process. While the Holy Spirit’s work requires all we have to give, it will not damage our relationships with others. The Holy Spirit always seeks to give us the greatest chance to bring others closer to God and uses all the gifts we bring to its disposal. Our talents are the equivalent of five barley loaves and a couple of fish. God will break them open, bless them, and ensure you have more than enough to feed all you encounter, with plenty left over.
The Holy Spirit always answers us with more than we expected. The Holy Spirit is always calling us to a deeper conversion and deeper love. So understand, you will be led where you do not expect to go. You will be asked to love and challenged to love more than you think is necessary and give more than is comfortable. The Holy Spirit always seeks to help us see more with Christ’s eyes than our own, and to hear with God the Father’s heart, rather than ours.
Don’t worry about being perfect, submit to the Holy Spirit and allow yourself to be perfected. It’s a process and it’s an always ongoing process until we die, and there is no finish line before then for past gifts of the self. We know the reality of God’s grace, whether we submit to it or not, by our continued existence, our continued every day. We know the gift of the Holy Spirit to the extent we witness patience, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in ourselves and others. Before we’re confirmed, we know, God holds a better plan for us than we’ve imagined for ourselves, so trust the Holy Spirit to lead you to a life of sainthood and prepare to be overwhelmed by God’s grace.