I often ask myself why so many people haven't "stirred" the Holy Spirit since their confirmation. Many of us (myself included) spent years listening to the voice of the secular world in forming our opinions about the major moral questions of the day.
Why do so many church-goers support abortion on demand and homosexual "marriage," which they know are forbidden by the Word of God, by the Church, and by most civilized societies? How can one receive Communion on Sunday and then go out on Monday and encourage a troubled friend to have an abortion, or gay acquaintances to act out their unnatural urges?
I remember when the U.S. Supreme Court declared abortion legal in 1973. I fully agreed. But when I returned to the Church through the Catholic charismatic renewal, and started getting closer to the Holy Spirit by reading the Bible daily, I woke up one day and suddenly found the idea of abortion repulsive. No one had given me any new arguments against abortion. But the Holy Spirit, truly living and vibrant inside of me, had changed my heart.
St. Paul reminded his young protege, Timothy, to "stir into flame the gift of God that you have (received) through the imposition of my hands" (2 Timothy 1:6). I believe that Paul had confirmed Timothy. Now Paul was urging him to do something with it!
Paul also advised Timothy: "Do not neglect the gift you have ... Attend to yourself and to your teaching ... for by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you" (1 Timothy 4:14-16). A great deal is eternally at stake when one presumes to advise friends about moral issues like abortion and unnatural sex (issues that the courts have usurped from the Church and turned into "political" issues to be decided by secular society).
How does one "stir" the Holy Spirit? Read the Bible daily. Jesus tells us to "worship the Father in Spirit and truth" (John 4:23). He later explains to the Apostles, "The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in My name - He will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you" (John 14:26).
Read out loud God's promises back to Him as your own prayer - for He cannot go back on His Word. "I tell you," Jesus said, "all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours" (Mark 11:24-25). The Psalms contain many beautiful and powerful prayers for the Spirit to come into your life. Pray all of Psalm 121. I also like praying verses 12-13 from Psalm 51:
"A clean heart create for me, God; renew in me a steadfast spirit. Do not drive me from Your presence, nor take from me Your Holy Spirit. Restore my joy in Your salvation; sustain in me a willing spirit. I will teach transgressors Your ways, that sinners may return to You." That's right, tell your pregnant friend to let her baby live. And tell your gay friends what they need to hear, instead of what they want to hear. They need our loving correction and counsel, not our weak-kneed approval, which makes us complicit in their sin in the eyes of God.
"Do not conform yourself to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing," Paul urges us in Romans 12:2. When the Holy Spirit is active in our life, we find ourselves following the Ten Commandments naturally, and with joy. I don't need to oppose abortion and the gay lifestyle out of fear of God or the Church. I do so because the Lord has made this a part of who I am.
Anthony Cardinale served on the diocesan Justice and Peace Commission and for many years was a lector at St. Mark's, Buffalo.