Blessed Pope John XXIII declared,  “The masterpieces of the Holy Spirit are the saints.”  The Gift of Gifts,  The bond of love between the Father and the Son, the Consoler and Counselor, the Finger of God, Sweet Guest of the Soul, and the SANCTIFIER--- all of these are descriptive titles for the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity.

Jesus commanded us to be saints, with these words:  “Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy.”  The grammatical tense used is not the imperfect, nor the conditional, nor present nor future, but rather, “Imperative.”   Of course the Imperative means it is a command!   That being said, we should use the most efficacious means to attain this imperative, this command, this ultimate goal of our life!

THE HOLY SPIRIT.   Devotion to the Holy Spirit is essential to carry out this awesome but necessary task.   At Baptism we become Temples of the Holy Spirit. The Sacrament of Confirmation fortifies the Presence of the Holy Spirit, also strengthening the seven-fold Gifts.   Therefore, it is incumbent upon every disciple of Jesus and “Temple of the Holy Spirit” to tap into the infinite reservoir of grace and power which is God Himself in  the Person of the Holy Spirit.

In his short masterpiece on the Holy Spirit, titled,   IN THE SCHOOL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT,   Jacques Philippe offers ten short counsels  in chapter two of his book on how to foster  being open to “Inspirations” of the Holy Spirit.  Following is a short summary of these superb counsels, if followed could lead to deep union with the Holy Spirit and true fruits of Holiness.  Indeed all of us are called to be “The Masterpiece of the Holy Spirit--- saints”--- in the words of Blessed Pope John XXIII.

1.    PRACTICE PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING.   God is very pleased with a grateful heart as well as a heart longing to praise His Almighty Goodness!   The Psalms abound in hymns of praise. St. Ignatius in Principle and Foundation points out our purpose in life and the first is to “Praise” God.   The ten lepers Jesus healed, but only one returned to thank Jesus for the gift of health.   The door of our heart is open to “The Gift of Gifts” the Holy Spirit when we exercise praise and thanksgiving.  “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endures forever.”

2.    DESIRE AND ASK FOR THEM.   When we really desire something ardently we can go through huge sacrifices to attain it.   A little child that has his heart on going to the circus or Disney or Sea-world, will remind his parents to the point of exhausting them, about their promise.   The most ardent yearning of our heart should be for God. “As the deer yearns for the running streams so my heart longs for you O Lord my God.”   “Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Mt. 7:7).  Beg for the “Gift of Gifts”, the Holy Spirit.

3.    RESOLVE TO REFUSE GOD NOTHING.   Magnanimity is a key word in Ignatian spirituality which means a total openness to God’s grace.  St. Therese of Lisieux made a decision to refuse God nothing and that is why God poured most abundantly His Holy Spirit and His inspirations transforming Therese into one of the greatest “Masterpieces of the Holy Spirit.”

4.    PRACTICE FILIAL AND TRUSTING OBEDIENCE.  Children must obey their parents, Religious their Superiors and all catholics the teachings of the Pope and the Magisterium.   A humble, docile and submissive disposition of heart attracts the Holy Spirit and His heavenly inspirations.

5.     PRACTICE ABANDONMENT.   Fr. Phillipe calls this  “Obedience to events”. St. Ignatius calls this “Holy Indifference”.  In the words of Ignatius we should not prefer long life to short, health to sickness, riches over poverty, nor honors above humiliations, but to prefer what is most conducive to the end for which we were created--- to Praise God in this life and in heaven for all eternity.

6.    PRACTICE DETACHMENT.    Disordered attachments to persons, places, things, even set ways of thinking can block the easy flow of inspirations from the Holy Spirit.  Hands clasping to mud, fists full of sawdust, renders it impossible to deposit diamonds within them.  If our hearts have a disordered attachment--- especially to any form of sin—then the Holy Spirit with His inspirations recoil and flee to a more receptive heart!   The Catechism of the Catholic Church, commenting on prayer, points out that often our distractions in prayer can be our disordered attachments that the Holy Spirit is pointing out for us to release.

7.    PRACTICE SILENCE AND PEACE.  A heart absorbed in constant noise, movement and confusion cannot attune his spiritual ear to the voice of the Holy Spirit.   Jesus, speaking as the Good Shepherd, says that the sheep hear His voice and follow Him.   A necessary condition is that of exterior silence and interior silence of the heart.  With the young Samuel let us pray, “Speak O Lord for your servant is listening.”

8.    PERSEVERE FAITHFULLY IN PRAYER.   The great football coach Vince Lombardi coined this immortal sports adage:  “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”   Why not apply this “sports wisdom” to the demands of the spiritual discipline.  Tough times should not hammer and pulverize our prayer discipline to dust but rather augment our prayer life to a higher level.  The best example is Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the Garden of Olives, when plunged into a sea of sorrow and abyss of desolation. The Evangelist emphasizes that Jesus prayed all the more  INTENSELY…    The Holy Spirit will help us to pray with His heavenly inspirations.   “We do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Holy Spirit intercedes with ineffable groans so that we can say Abba, Father”…(Romans 8)

9.    EXAMINE THE MOVEMENTS OF OUR HEARTS.  Often the Holy Spirit attracts us to Himself by interior movements of our hearts.  Through silence, frequent Confession and adequate Spiritual Direction these movements can be discerned, understood, and received. Peace and interior joy--- fruits of the Holy Spirit—manifest the Presence of the Good Spirit and His heavenly inspirations.

10.OPEN OUR HEARTS TO OUR SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR.   As one climbs the mountain of sanctity the devil and his temptations become all the more subtle. Such is the case that the evil spirit can even at times suggest a good thought so that he can eventually pull us away from our proper end which is God. ( The Second Week Rules of Discernment of St Ignatius).  Therefore attaining a good spiritual director, periodically meeting with him, true sincerity and transparency in conversation and true openness of heart allows for the action of the Holy Spirit.     Finally, Mary who is the “Mystical Spouse of the Holy Spirit”, who conceived Jesus through the power and grace of the Holy Spirit can be an invaluable help to fostering inspirations of the Holy Spirit and becoming that “Masterpiece of the Holy Spirit” that we are all called to become.