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The Holy Spirit

Sunday is the feast of the Holy Spirit.

Why not spend some time in what an Ignatian retreat director might give you to pray on? Your job would be not so much to “understand” the “points,” but to pray out of them. Use as many points as you want for prayer (and disregard the rest).


Intro: Remind yourself that you will be praying in the presence of God, the one who watches over you and loves you by name. Then sit quietly, with as much patience as you have available.

Then begin.

  “What does the Holy Spirit mean to me?” To some people the Spirit is the one who causes an adherent to be “slain in the Spirit.” Others know it as somehow connected with the Trinity. Others have no idea. How do you come to the topic?

—pause and pray—

God will give you a sense of who the Holy Spirit is in your personal daily life.

Point One: In the Gospel [the “B” selection*], Jesus says that, in his name, the Father is going to send “the Advocate to us: the Holy Spirit.” The English word advocate might be derived from the Latin ad plus voco, so it could mean “to speak for.” Thus, the Holy Spirit  would be one who speaks on our behalf. But “Advocate” is only one translation of the Greek word, which is also rendered as “Paraclete,” “intercessor,” “teacher,” “helper,” and “comforter.” All these English words refer to someone who is called upon to aid another person and to defend them.

So begin your point knowing that the Spirit …

helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. (Romans 8:26).

Ponder what it must feel like for the Holy Spirit of God to pray within you, to comfort you and help you when you call out.


Point Two: Now imagine yourself as part of the dynamic story found in the First Reading:

You and the other disciples are gathered with in a house. Suddenly a huge noise “like a strong driving wind” drowns everything out. Something like a tongue of flame appears and hovers in the air. Before you can think, it splits into numerous flame-like appearances, each of which hovers over a person in the room.

Then picture yourself preaching to the people gathered outside, who have at least 15 different languages represented among them. But they all understand.

Consider. What if you received this Spirit-flame? Is there a way everyone could understand you—in depth, in God’s love and truth?


Point Three: In the Gospel [B] there is an immensely comforting statement by Jesus (women, please substitute “her”):

Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him
and make our dwelling with him.

Take time with each line. (Remember that “keeping Jesus’ word” means loving one another, not just keeping the law.) Consider the Father’s love for you personally. Let down your guard for a moment or two so you can be a home for Jesus and his “Abba.” Let the Holy Spirit pray within you.


When you are finished with your prayer session, take time to thank God.

Call out to God and tell him where your heart is. Maybe God will give you a sense of who the Holy Spirit is in your personal daily life, in your progress from day to day.

As we said, it is the Holy Spirit’s feast.

John Foley, SJ
 * Note: we are given two texts to choose from for the Second Reading, and two for the Gospel. Together with the First Reading this makes five possibilities, I cannot know which ones your parish will choose, so I will take my references from any of the five, and designate the readings with the letters A and B in each case.

You are invited to email a note to the author of this reflection:
Fr. John Foley, SJ

Fr. John Foley, SJ, is a composer and scholar at Saint Louis University.
Art by Martin Erspamer, OSB
from Religious Clip Art for the Liturgical Year (A, B, and C). This art may be reproduced only by parishes who purchase the collection in book or CD-ROM form. For more information go