The Holy Spirit is knocking!


This is the time in our Liturgical year when the focus is placed on the Holy Spirit and all the Sprit embodies. For many in our local communities, this is a time of feasts and religious celebrations honoring the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. Aside from Sacramental celebrations commemorating milestones such as First Communion and Confirmation, this is a time when many ethnic groups express their devotion, celebrating the Holy Spirit. 

As a child of Portuguese immigrants, I have been deeply immersed in the devotion to the Holy Spirit all of my life, fully aware of how the Spirit moves and works within each of our lives. Like the Apostles on Pentecost Sunday, we too are given the gifts of the Spirit that strengthen us and give us what we need to persevere, even in the face of adversity. 

Recently, my family and I have had the honor and privilege of hosting a “Dominga” or “Sunday” dedicated to one of the gifts of the Spirit. We hosted the Fifth Dominga which represents “Knowledge.” For the Azorean communities, this is not only a great honor, but a willingness to be open to the workings of the Spirit in their lives. As a child, I learned early on how God works through the Spirit to pour out His abundant love on each and every one of us, giving us what we need. For me, it was evident in the answered prayers, the miracles that occurred, and the outpouring of love from both those we knew and those who simply came to join us in prayer. 

For my family it was a new experience. My husband was not raised in these traditions — as this is not common in northern Portugal — and my children were quite young when my parents hosted their last Dominga. So for me it was a passing on of a baton that holds not only beautiful memories and rich traditions, but also a deeper understanding of our faith, traditional prayers, and a deeper knowledge of what God’s love means in our lives. 

It was an opportunity for my family, friends and the community to come together each night and pray the Rosary, sing the traditional songs to the Holy Spirit, Christ, and the Blessed Mother, and enjoy fellowship. It was a time in our lives, as St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans, that “the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”  

This is a love we fully experienced from all those who joined us, prayed with us, or prayed for us if they could not attend. For those of you who have had the Holy Ghost (Spirit) in your homes, you know exactly of what I am speaking. For those who have not had the opportunity to host or attend the nightly prayer gatherings, it fills one’s home with so much love. And even two weeks after the crown of the Holy Spirit has left our home, we still feel a fullness, a stronger presence, and a joy that even though existed before, is somewhat more amplified. It is as if the Holy Spirit filled in those gaps in our lives, even the ones we did not know existed. 

It is this “filling” or “outpouring” that St. Paul spoke of and of what Jesus is telling the Apostles in the Gospel reading from John, that the Spirit will come to give us what we need to better grasp the truth and guide us to the truth. It is for this reason that Jesus breathes His Spirit onto the Apostles then, and why He continues to send forth His Spirit onto each of us now. It is through the gifts of the Holy Spirit that we come to understand God, the Father; Christ, the Son; and the Holy Spirit and how each proceeds from the Father, forming the Holy Trinity. 

That is why we are reminded in the reading from Proverbs that the Spirit has been the essence of everything God has created, and why we see the Spirit depicted as a “river of life flowing out from the Father and the Son” in Revelations (22:19). The challenge facing each and every one of us is: are we willing vessels, are we open to the outpouring of the Spirit? If we are struggling, how can we learn to be more open to the Spirit and to the abundance God has planned for us? 

The Holy Spirit has been a true inspiration in my life, it has been a solace in times of trouble and hardship, and has guided me through some very dark times. The key is to open the door and let the Spirit fill you. Do you hear the knocking? Are you ready to let the doors fly open and let the Spirit in? When you do, it will fill your lives in unimaginable ways. 

God Bless and may the Spirit of the Lord fill and renew your lives. 

Anchor columnist Rose Mary Saraiva is a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Fall River and works for the diocesan Office of Faith Formation. 

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