30 July 2020
HOLY SPIRIT REFLECTION
During the extended Prayer and Teaching Service that is released every Sunday, I give a longer Message (the talk) where I take a deeper dive into a topic knowing that you can go even further. This picture was taken from a recent Message where I said that to, ‘Call Upon the Holy Spirit’ a person needed to firstly,
Words and concepts can have different meanings but also different levels of intensity. For example, there is real ‘love’ and ‘love’ of something more casually. There is ‘commitment’ to the point of I will give everything I have and ‘commitment’ with less ramifications such as I will go to the gym every day.
The concept of ‘Desire’ is the same. I thought I understood it but I was wrong, or should I say, I had a very shallow understanding of it when applied to spiritual matters. It is a deeply spiritual concept I have discovered that when understood fully, it transforms our spiritual life with God.
At a surface level ‘desire’ means to want something or to wish for something.
At a spiritual level ‘desire’ means to long for something as if life is incomplete without it or that our very survival depended on it. I often think of desire as a ‘deep longing.’ This is captured in Psalm 42:1-2;
As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold the face of God?
Water is essential to life. The psalmist says my soul longs for God like a deer is dependent on water for life.
I have one memory in my life when I can say I truly ‘desired’ something very, very much. It is a story I have told often.
The early to mid-months of 1977 changed my life. I was 18 years old. Five years earlier, Fr Des Williamson a Discalced Carmelite priest, invited me to a night of prayer. I was 13 years old. Six weeks later, he led me in prayer where I asked Jesus Christ into the center of my life to be Lord and first before all else and secondly, that the gifts of the Holy Spirit that I had received at Baptism and then confirmed in Confirmation, would be unleashed anew within me. It changed my life. I encountered God that night at 9.35 pm in the Infant Jesus kindergarten, where the meeting was held, in a manner that still has life-changing ramifications for me today.
It was the 7th of November 1972.
Fr Des, as everyone called him, told me to pray for at least 15 minutes each day. Not in bed, not in the shower, not in front of the television, not lying down, but rather give a dedicated time to God and sit up or stand up alert before God every single day. He said that I should not miss praying for 15 minutes a day. He used to say God wants to have a personal relationship with me and personal relationships only grow if you spend time with each other. This made perfect sense to me. It has been the greatest gift anyone has ever given me. I soon started writing my prayers down in what I called a Prayer Journal, which was just a notebook from school.
Over the next few years I began to sense in prayer, and in things people said to me, that God had a work for me to do with my life.
1977 began and I had this consistent deep conviction that God was talking to me. No, not in audible words, but in other ways such that I was convinced that I could hear God in my heart. It was the strangest experience.
Then, over a series of days spread throughout the first half of 1977, I wrote in my Prayer Journal what I felt God was asking me to do with my life.
I felt God ask me to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth and that many would come to faith in God and encounter Him and many would reject Him. I felt that I was to do this because a dark time was coming upon the earth when many people would turn away from God and the Church. It would be as if they could not hear or see God or what people were saying to them about God and faith.
As an 18 year old young man, I had no idea what this meant. Today, as someone much older seeing people stopping coming to Church and the subsequent younger generations mostly having very little commitment and knowledge of God and Church, I now understand what I wrote in those early to mid-months of 1977.
GOD PREPARES US OUT OF SIGHT
Well, I thought I was ready to do something, I had no idea what, but God had other plans. Being a layperson and not feeling called to priesthood, which everyone said was the only thing I could do if I felt as I did back then, meant there was nowhere for me to go and no one wanted me.
For twelve years I worked in jobs I did not enjoy, and my heart was very much not in them. I felt broken. In those twelve years, I used to think God had forgotten me. I would pace the house late at night and I would cry out to God, where are you? Have you called me to frustrate me? Even writing now I feel the pain and the tears rising in me at just how hard those years were. One day I will write and speak on where is God when you feel He does not see you.
In 1989 at the age of 29, I had become involved in a group that decided to put on a youth and young adult event and I was asked to go and speak to the priest responsible for the youth and young adult ministry in the Archdiocese (the head office for all of the local Catholic Churches in an area such as a city or region) where I lived. I met with Fr Joseph Parkinson about what we were going to do with the youth and young adult event and then our conversation came to an end but before I left, I said to him something unexpected and unplanned that changed my life.
I said to him, “I have always wanted to do this,” meaning work in Church work sharing faith and he replied, “It will never happen unless you make it happen.” I replied that I had been trying my whole life but had no idea how.
I remember leaving there very stirred in my heart and spirit and immediately drove to see another priest whom I only sort of knew. I told him what I felt called to do, and he said he had no idea what to say to me, but that he would pray for me. Ten years later I met him and he said he had never missed a day praying for me since that day I came to see him.
I drove from that priest’s house to see a Christian Brother, who was my former School Principal from 12 years before when I was at school. He was now the Principal of the largest Christian Brothers school in the city. I dropped in unannounced and he agreed to see me. He remembered me sharing with him when I was at school what I thought I was meant to do with my life, but he also did not know what I should do. He said, however, that the Auxiliary Bishop lived up the road and that I should go and see him. Two days later I was sitting in the Bishop’s office sharing my story and desire that I wanted to work in the Church sharing faith. He said it should be possible, but he also had no idea what to do.
I did not have a plan and could not describe what I should do. I just had a desire burning within me. No one wanted a layperson who wanted to share faith with others.
I left the Bishop’s office at the Cathedral feeling very down and very, very disheartened and went into the city centre and wandered through some shops. It was a Friday afternoon. I went back to my car and was driving home back past the Cathedral where I had met the Bishop only a couple hours earlier on my way out of the city centre. There in the carpark of the Cathedral was Fr Joseph Parkinson from the youth and young adult ministry who I had met only 48 hours earlier who had said to me, “It won’t happen unless you make it happen.
I stopped and said to him, “Guess where I have been?” He asked, “Where?” And I said I had been to see the Bishop. He asked, “Why?” And the following words of mine and his have been burnt into my memory. I said to him, “You said it will never happen unless I make it happen and so I am trying,” to which he replied, “Are you that keen? Come and see me next Tuesday.”
We talked the next Tuesday and quickly our conversation went to me working for the Church in the Youth and Young Adult Ministry, but he could not employ me without first getting permission from the Archbishop.
It would take weeks to get an answer.
The days dragged by and there was nothing I could do but pray and wait.
In that time of waiting, I got up early and went to Church every day. I stayed back afterward and prayed the Rosary with a group of elderly women. I prayed at home. I did every conceivable thing I could think of to ask God to breakthrough.
For weeks – night and day, day and night – I asked God.
I then received a call saying that the Archbishop wanted to meet me. I went to this important meeting with Fr Parkinson from the Youth Ministry. I will never forget what occurred. The Archbishop said to me that he did not want to employ me but that he had lost the argument, even though he was the senior Bishop, with the Auxiliary Bishop who did want to employ me. The Archbishop said to me, “I do not know where to put you or what to tell you to do. You have two years and at the end of that time, if it does not work, you are gone. Welcome to the Church.”
It was not the warmest of welcomes, but I did not notice that at all. Twelve months later, the Archbishop met with me and was so pleased I was on the team. It was the door I had been waiting for.
The problem today of the loss of faith that we see in our sons and daughters, husbands and wives, our friends and colleagues is not going to be overcome by good music or a good sermon. So often people say these are what needs to change for people to come back to God and Church. The problems that have occurred which have caused millions and millions of people to leave the Church in our lifetime will not be fixed by human intervention via a good program or a friendly welcome committee.
The problems we face are beyond us even though we must still do our best.
The challenge of the loss of faith and the lack of encounter with God in our modern and increasingly godless world will need the miraculous hand of God to intervene and this is done through the Holy Spirit.
Our loved ones, if they are to come back to God, need an ‘intervention’ of God into their lives which is another way of saying,
“Come Holy Spirit and renew the face of the earth.”
Why do I tell you a small part of my story?
If we want the Holy Spirit to come upon the earth, we have to have ‘desire’ for the Holy Spirit to come upon the earth anew like the deer who seeks water to sustain its very life. This is a great passage of Scripture to reflect upon in your personal prayer from Psalm 42:1-2 as mentioned above.
You have to want the Holy Spirit to come with a sense of urgency and ‘deep’ longing, knowing that we must wait upon God’s perfect timing.
It is not enough to say some ‘nice’ prayers or think some ‘positive thoughts’ saying, “Wouldn’t it be good if the Holy Spirit came.” We need to truly desire the Holy Spirit to come upon the earth while trusting in God’s perfect plan and timing.
After 12 years of waiting and working in other jobs that I had no heart for, I hungered for God so desperately I can now, all these years later, still feel the ‘desire’ as if it was happening right now.
This is the power of waiting upon the Lord. We are changed. It is here that we encounter Jesus as our Saviour and Lord, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to live in communion and union with God as part of our everyday life.
SUGGESTED WAYS TO SEEK AFTER THE HOLY SPIRIT
All prayer is good but the kind of prayer I want to encourage you in, is that deep sense of asking that rises up from within our heart and spirit that says;
‘Holy Spirit Come. We need you. WE REALLY, REALLY NEED YOU. Come and renew people’s hearts and openness to you. I am prepared to do what you ask. God, send Your Holy Spirit.’
We do not have to all pray in the same way. Pray according to what you are accustomed to while possibly exploring new ways. Some suggestions that you might do;
1. Set aside a time every day to pray to the Holy Spirit.
2. Set reminders to pray. On my phone every hour a silent alarm goes off and the screen comes alive and says the words ‘Come Holy Spirit.’ I can be in meetings, watching television and the screen lights up and I see without disturbing others.
3. You can attend prayer in your Church more often during the week, such as Mass if you are a Catholic.
4. You can gather people that you know to your home, Church or a meeting place to pray.
5. You can read the Book of Acts and highlight every time the Holy Spirit is mentioned and what the Holy Spirit does or causes to happen as a consequence of the Holy Spirit’s action.
6. You can pray the Rosary yourself, with others or go online and soon you will be able to pray the Rosary with us every day.
7. You can listen to talks about the Holy Spirit that you research on the internet and YouTube. Simply type in Holy Spirit.
8. If you are a member of a group or prayer group, I can set up a video meeting with your group either where people are in their homes or in a group setting with the ability to view it together and I would love to share with you. We can do this no matter where you are in the world. It just needs some planning.
If you receive the daily videos, you will have noticed that I have continued to share about the Holy Spirit in the ‘Living Miraculously’ series and will continue to do so as they continue.
You can pray, share your testimony, or comment in the Comments Section below.
Finally, we need many, many more people to pray from every nation on every continent to join us in prayer. Please email them or call them and encourage them to join us. Do not forward your email on as they will not receive the other materials which are coming. When they sign up they will receive the introduction video explaining what we are doing and how this will work.
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May the Lord bless you.