In our modern world with its widespread technology, the computers and cellphones that we now depend upon must be configured to new operating systems and programs. A comparison can be drawn between this technology and our life in the Spirit. We too are called in a similar way to conform ourselves to Christ, by becoming and operating more like him. But how do we go about configuring our souls? What makes for a configured Christian? How can we ‘download’ the Holy Spirit? This process is accomplished in us by receiving the sacraments, praying regularly and leading good Christian lives as active members of the Church.
By receiving the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist, we are incorporated into the Church and become children of God. These sacraments are part of our spiritual ‘operating system’, for we cannot be considered Christian, nor function as followers of Christ without these three sacraments of initiation. Baptism and Confirmation are received only once, and are the basic requirement to get you started in the Christian life. Meanwhile we can partake in the Holy Eucharist throughout our lives and thereby be regularly ‘updated’ in the Lord.
Another way to be constantly updated is through prayer and Scripture study which helps us remain in touch with the Lord who speaks to us through his word and gives his graces to those who seek them. Through the action of the Holy Spirit, God is constantly ‘on-line’. He is accessible and close by. He is the technician who is always ready to fix those things we have done wrong through his divine mercy. He is the expert advisor teaching us his ways and not the ways of the world. He is the Spirit who opens our hearts and minds to the reality of his presence in the created world, in us and others, making us into people capable of loving, giving, sharing, serving and sacrificing ourselves for the good of others.
Now one may ask ‘how can I know that I have received the Holy Spirit?’ You will know this easily by the effects of the Spirit in your lives. One cannot see electricity, but we know by its effects how it powers all our devices and appliances. The air and sounds encircling us cannot be seen, yet they both have great effects on our lives.
Hence, you will know that the Holy Spirit is with you when: you are not ashamed, embarrassed or afraid to say before everyone in the world that you are a Catholic and that you believe in the Holy Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
If you do not consider your Catholic faith a burden that you are obliged to carry, but rather that your religion is something that carries you through life, giving you inner light, courage and the capacity to love, then the Holy Spirit is with you.
If you love the Blessed Virgin Mary and pray the rosary; if you follow the example of the saints of the Church; pray on a daily basis and go to Mass every week, then you can be sure that the Holy Spirit is with you.
If you willingly obey and follow God’s Ten Commandments, not as restrictions placed upon you but as words to live your life by, and follow the teachings of Christ as given in the Gospels and the Magisterium of the Church, then the Spirit is with you.
You know that you have the Holy Spirit when you are obedient to your parents or superiors, pious during Mass, attentive at work and in school, respectful and kind towards everyone.
You can be sure that you have the Holy Spirit when you are able to go to confession regularly, humbly ask for God’s forgiveness, willingly do penance and then you feel that you have truly been forgiven and loved, even more so after your sin and possibly because of it, for you have been brought closer to God. Then through the help of the same Spirit you will strive to do better in your life and make progress due to the effect of God’s grace.
You also have the Holy Spirit when despite the fact that people lie, cheat, take advantage of and do many things to harm to you, you nevertheless are able to forgive them and have the faith to pray for them as Jesus did for his enemies.
You certainly have the Holy Spirit if you respect your own life, body and soul, and those of others, by avoiding sinful behaviour and nurturing life as God’s gift to you.
You truly have the Holy Spirit if your words and actions are honest, sincere, selfless, and you have a genuine concern for the good of all of humanity.
And you can be sure the Holy Spirit is with you when you have the courage to say ‘no’ to everything that is evil, unjust, unnatural, sinful, harmful and plainly wrong, for you or others and ‘yes’ to all that is good, righteous, wholesome and pure.
The Lord gives his Holy Spirit to those who obey and love him, who follow the Church he established as its living members. May the Holy Spirit give all of us today and everyday, the strength for the struggle that awaits us in our lives and may he lead us along our life journey to eternal life.