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Browsing Fr. Joel Hastings

Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit/Discerning God's call

Why did Jesus have to leave for the Paraclete to come?

           In the mystery of the salvation, it is revealed to us by Jesus that He must return to the Father before the Paraclete (the Holy Spirit) is able to come (John 16:7). However, in the mystery of the unity of the Trinity, it is also understood as revealed truth that while the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct persons within the unity of God, they are in such unity that we can also say that where the Son is, so, too, is the Father and the Holy Spirit. Thus, at one in the same moment, we acknowledge the presence of the Holy Spirit already in the world while Jesus, the Son, is in the world and we recognize a greater manifesting of the Holy Spirit that will only come after Jesus has returned to heaven. What may seem contradictory is, however, a matter of contrast between the interior life of God in the Trinity and external revelation of God in His works.

Thus, that Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will not come until He returns to the Father is due to the fullness of the saving works of God being revealed
externally once the Holy Spirit is outwardly manifested (as He was on Pentecost, when as “tongues of fire,” the Spirit descended upon the Apostles). Likewise, insofar as the Holy Spirit was not revealed until after Jesus ascended to heaven, it is proper that Jesus first had to open heaven (as the “firstborn of all creation” in whom all things came to be [as Paul says in Colossians 1:15-16]). Once Jesus has returned to heaven, the Holy Spirit’s manifestation is thus able to bring to completion the revelation of the Trinity and the mystery of salvation, as all who receive these saving gifts of God in faith are now able to live the life accomplished and promised through them: eternal life in the Trinity.

 How do I know if God is calling me to do a certain thing?

           When it comes to knowing God’s will (whether in discerning a life-long vocation or of other important decisions), it is necessary that prayer be at the beginning and center of such discernment. In praying, we plainly ask the Lord to aid us in knowing His will – AND we also must listen. To listen to God requires us to both interiorly quiet ourselves so that His gentle voice may be perceived in silence and the willingness to allow God’s gentle voice to work through all things in our daily life – including the words of other people. That said, we must also seek to live in a manner that is true to who we are called to be in the present moment. For example, if one is discerning a call to married life they must both pray about such and live in a manner befitting of their present vocation (whether they are already dating/courting another or not, they must seek to live their proper state of life in accord with the truth of Christ – and not in
sinful ways). If one is discerning another type of decision (such as whether to take a new job), it is important that while continuing to pray regularly one is also seeking to live true to what each particular day brings to them, allowing God to speak also through “ordinary circumstances,” if you would, to point toward the right decision.

I share a personal example of a discernment process for me in my recent years to illustrate this process: the decision to accept the possibility to offer the Latin Mass (which I was at first very hesitant to do). In making the decision, I both prayed about what God wanted and listened for God’s voice at work in others who spoke undeniable truth to me about these or related matters. In addition, I took the deeper opportunity to be exposed to that which I was discerning through participation at the Latin Mass workshop in Chicago in April 2016 – thus placing myself in the moment so that I could more directly learn and know if the Lord was pointing me toward it or not – and as you know, the rest is history….



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