One of the Sisters told me she heard there was a web site sponsored by a group of atheists where you could click a link to deny the Holy Spirit. Right off I said, "why would atheists bother to deny the Holy Spirit?" If you don't believe, I would think indifference would be evident. It takes some energy and caring to actively go to a website and so on. My secondary reaction was something akin to horror. I just don't know why you would mess with the Holy Spirit. Of course I realize people do things to shock and in my years of ministry I've seen and heard a lot of sad and shocking things. But, fooling with The Holy Spirit seems like biting the hand that feeds you.
Of course I'm coming from a very Catholic background and perspective. I believe in God, I believe the Holy Spirit is one of the three persons of God, God active in the world today, God active in my life today . In my experience the Holy Spirit has been a constant presence always there to lead and guide me. When things we're tough I've found myself praying to the Holy Spirit.
How does this work in actual practice?
First of all I pray everyday that the Holy Spirit guide me and that I pay attention to that guidance. Then whatever the situation, event or interaction, I try to respond from that part of myself most in touch with God. This can mean anything from a simple smile or a listening ear to engaging in serious dialogue with others. There are some days, for sure when I do a poor job of being in tune with God the Holy Spirit! Some days I very consciously ask the Holy Spirit to be with me especially when I need to meet with someone and discuss something important to them or us. In the various ministries in which I've been involved, teacher, youth minister, social worker, formation director and now General Councilor for my community, while I depend on my background, education and training I trust that what I say and do is shaped and refined by the Holy Spirit.
I haven't done any empirical testing of the efficacy of the Holy Spirit's acting in my life. For one thing I'm not willing to try life without the Holy Spirit in order to do a comparison study!
the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Here's what the founder of my community, Fr. Thomas A. Judge, CM
had to say about the Holy Spirit,
Whatever we see of calm, of loveliness,
whatever beauty there is,
it is all of the Holy Spirit.
O, we want beauty of soul,
we want harmony of mind, we want peace of spirit;
that must come from the Holy Spirit.
Actually he said a lot more about the Holy Spirit but that's one of my favorites. Another favorite is this prayer of Augustine
Breath into me Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Move in me, Holy Spirit, that my work too, may be holy.
Attract my heart, Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy.
Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy.
Protect me, Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy.