This is the Alleluia Season! Fifty days after Easter we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This is also considered the unofficial birthday of our Church. It is at this time that many parishes also celebrate Confirmation, as young people receive the Sacrament that brings them the special help of the Spirit. But it seems as so many times we miss the beauty and power of this holy season. So often we seem to just go through the motions of a spiritual life—showing up for Mass out of a sense of obligation rather than love. And we miss a lot of the rich offerings of the Spirit as a result.
It’s something like this: A big celebrity comes to town, but you haven’t heard the news. This celebrity is walking towards you, but you think he’s just some crazy because he has his hands held out. You don’t recognize the face, and you just walk on past in a hurry. You might even roughly push the celebrity aside. How rude it is to ignore this person. And how embarrassing it will be later when everyone hears what happened! What a missed opportunity it is!
We receive special graces when we say “hello” to the most amazing “celebrity” ever—the Holy Spirit. When we are truly paying attention, when we are truly prayerful, the Holy Spirit fills us with awareness and we are absorbed in awe at the closeness of God!
“Prayer,” said St. John Vianney, “is the inner bath of love into which the soul plunges itself.” We have the opportunity to be renewed and revitalized. How wonderful is that? But it takes practice to be aware enough to feel the great power of the Spirit’s presence. So here are a few thoughts on experiencing Power Prayer!
First, we close our eyes to block out the world. It is both a symbolic and practical way to move inward. In order for grace to work inside our souls, we withdraw from exterior things to become more awake to the interior.
Then, we can take a break from asking God to give us things. Instead, we seek silence and still the chattering mind. One way to do this is to come back again and again to the Holy Name—Jesus. See the letters in your mind. If you can, try to picture the face of Jesus. When we are at Mass, other people distract us. But it is still possible to close our eyes and pray interiorly, especially after receiving Communion.
The Mass is a communal prayer, giving us the opportunity to receive Jesus into our souls. The story goes that St. John Vianney sent altar servers to follow people who left the Church right after receiving the Eucharist. It was his way of saying, “Don’t forget. Don’t miss this opportunity to talk to listen to and visit with the King of Kings. Don’t be disrespectful.” And don’t miss out on the blessings of the Spirit who wants to guide us Home.