the contrary spirit
"They had been prevented by the Holy Spirit from preaching the message in the province of Asia. When they came to Mysia they tried to go on into Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them." —Acts 16:6-7
Six days from today, the Church begins the Pentecost novena. In this way, we prepare our hearts and open them to the Holy Spirit. Although the Holy Spirit is our Joy, our Hope, and the Desire of our hearts, the Spirit, being God, has ways and thoughts that are very different from ours (Is 55:8-9). Therefore, we naturally are resistant to the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit proves the world wrong about sin, justice, and condemnation (Jn 16:8). The Spirit insists that we constantly realize that Jesus has chosen us out of the world and that therefore we don't belong to the world (Jn 15:19). The Spirit would convict us as "enemies of the cross" if we are set on the things of the world (Phil 3:18-19).
Because the Spirit is all-knowing and we are not, the Spirit repeatedly must restrict us from going to certain places and doing certain things (Acts 16:7). This is frustrating for us because we feel the Spirit is treating us like children. Yet the fact is that in many ways we are and will always be like children due to our human weaknesses and limitations.
To receive the Holy Spirit, we must choose to be crucified to the world and the world to us (Gal 6:14). To receive the Holy Spirit in a deeper way, we must be humble and painfully realistic. Come, Holy Spirit!
Prayer: Holy Spirit, I decide to humble myself before You.
Promise: "Through all this, the congregations grew stronger in faith and daily increased in numbers." —Acts 16:5
Praise: St. Augustine set out to evangelize England at the Pope's request. He turned back in fear, was sent out a second time, and achieved only limited success in his seven-year mission. Yet the mustard seed which he sowed resulted in the conversion of England years after his death (see Mt 13:31-32).
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Edward J. Gratsch, October 4, 1999
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, October 12, 1999