Over the past week, the first reading for daily Mass has come from St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Today’s is from the fifth chapter, and it contains one of my favorite verses of the New Testament.
“… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Gal 5:22-23)
I often use this verse with my children. When I see a behavior that lacks self-control, I say, “You need more self-control and that is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. So you need to pray to the Holy Spirit for help. You cannot do it on your own.” This isn’t always met with the greatest of enthusiasm, but they are always convicted of its truth.
I also use it with myself. When I am harsh in my speech and should be gentle, I need the help of the Holy Spirit. When I am impatient, I need the help of the Holy Spirit. I cannot do it myself.
Take a few minutes to really ponder on this verse. Jesus said, “By your fruit you will know them.” (Mt 7:16) Do people see the Holy Spirit in us by the manifestation of his fruit?
What is it that you most need to show the love of God working through you? Is it gentleness? Patience? Generosity? Self-control? Whatever it is for the day or for the moment, the Holy Spirit is our refuge. In the moment, pray “Come Holy Spirit” or “Holy Spirit help me!”
St. Francis de Sales in Introduction to the Devout Life recommends a morning practice which will help us to grow in the fruits of the spirit, which I highly recommend:
Call to mind that the day now beginning is given you in order that you may work for Eternity, and make a steadfast resolution to use this day for that end.
Consider beforehand what occupations, duties and occasions are likely this day to enable you to serve God; what temptations to offend Him, either by vanity, anger, etc., may arise; and make a fervent resolution to use all means of serving Him and confirming your own piety; as also to avoid and resist whatever might hinder your salvation and God’s Glory. Nor is it enough to make such a resolution,—you must also prepare to carry it into effect. Thus, if you foresee having to meet someone who is hot-tempered and irritable, you must not merely resolve to guard your own temper, but you must consider by what gentle words to conciliate him. If you know you will see some sick person, consider how best to minister comfort to him, and so on.
Next, humble yourself before God, confessing that of yourself you could carry out nothing that you have planned, either in avoiding evil or seeking good. Then, so to say, take your heart in your hands, and offer it and all your good intentions to God’s Gracious Majesty, entreating Him to accept them, and strengthen you in His Service, which you may do in some such words as these:
“Lord, I lay before Thee my weak heart, which Thou dost fill with good desires. Thou knowest that I am unable to bring the same to good effect, unless Thou dost bless and prosper them, and therefore, O Loving Father, I entreat of Thee to help me by the Merits and Passion of Thy Dear Son, to Whose Honour I would devote this day and my whole life.”
All these acts should be made briefly and heartily, before you leave your room if possible, so that all the coming work of the day may be prospered with God’s blessing; but anyhow, my daughter, I entreat you never to omit them. (source)
Incorporating this short reflection and prayer into your daily life will make a huge difference in the day.
So today, would you join me in anticipating the events of the day and those that will challenge us, then invite God into them before they even occur. You won’t regret it.
God bless you & keep you, Anne
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.