Fr. Larry Richards
“You will receive POWER when the Holy Spirit comes upon you then you shall be my witnesses!” (Acts 1:8).
Gentlemen, the key to the growth in the spiritual life is surrender to the Holy Spirit! Too often we try to live a life of holiness under our own power – THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE! It will make you a Pharisee, but not holy.
To be holy, you need to surrender your life fully and completely to God the Holy Spirit. Jesus knew this – that is why after His resurrection He commanded His Apostles to wait for the promised Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4).
Before the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles they were afraid and huddled together in a place that was safe. When the Holy Spirit came upon them, “they began to make bold proclamation as the Spirit prompted them” (Acts 2:4). They did not have the power – or the guts – to do this before the Holy Spirit came upon them! You NEED that same Holy Spirit if you are going to have a life of power and be the man God created you to be.
St. Paul had to challenge St. Timothy, who was a priest and bishop: “For this reason I remind you to stir into a flame the gift of God bestowed on you when our hands were laid upon you” (2 Timothy 1:6). St. Paul reminded this bishop that he has been given the Holy Spirit and must now surrender to the Spirit of the living God. How much more do we need to be reminded! If we do not experience this daily surrender to God’s Spirit, then our flesh can overtake us… way too easily. We’ve got to be surrendered to God’s Spirit.
The Word of God tells us, “But you are not in the flesh you are in the spirit” (Romans 8:5). This means that God’s Spirit is INSIDE of you. To illustrate this, let’s say I have a glass of milk and I take a bunch of Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup and I pour it into the glass of milk, what happens? It stays in the bottom of the glass!
This is where the Holy Spirit remains in most men – at the bottom of their soul! They have received the Spirit and the Spirit is inside of them, but the Spirit is just abiding there. So what do you have to do? Stir it up! That is what Paul is saying to Timothy. That Spirit, that maybe sitting at the bottom of your soul; it is time to surrender and stir Him up. Surrender to Him!
We must be reminded that God dwells within us and we have been given a great gift. “If anyone doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (See Roman’s 8:9). So, you are not a Christian if you do not have the Holy Spirit, simple as that. “But if Christ is in you” (Verse 10), “the body is dead because of sin, while the Spirit lives because of justice. If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells inside of you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will bring your mortal bodies to life also to the spirit dwelling inside of you.”
So what is he saying? Because of that Spirit, we will live forever. We will never die. That is a great message of hope. Because the Spirit of God resides in me, the Spirit of God, which by definition is life, will keep me alive forever. “We are debtors then my brothers not of the flesh so that we live according to the flesh.
If you live according to the flesh you are going to die. But if we live by the Spirit, you put to death the evil deeds of the body and you will live” (Romans 8:12). This means we have got to have a disciplined life.
The gift God gave us is His grace, but just like a good athlete, we have to work with those gifts and make them strong. It is the same with the spiritual life. God has given us great gifts, but we have got to work and discipline
It takes discipline. In (Proverbs 5:23) , God tells us: “My people die because of lack of discipline.” Brothers, if you want to be a man, you are going to have to discipline yourself. That means you are going to have to discipline yourself by surrendering to the Holy Spirit every day.
A great example of a man who daily surrendered to the Holy Spirit is Bl. John Paul II. George Weigel tells the story of the future Pope John Paul and how his father, whom he called “The Captain”, told him to pray a prayer to the Holy Spirit everyday – and he did! I believe this is how Bl. John Paul II changed the world! The same CAN happen to YOU!
So what is necessary to surrender to His Spirit? I challenge you to say a prayer of surrender to the Holy Spirit every day for the rest of your life. Now of course this is not magic, nor is it superstition, you need to mean and live what you pray! You do not need to pray the exact one that I am going to give you, but it this is the one I say every morning. It is written by Cardinal Mercier who died in 1926:
O, Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore You. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, console me. Tell me what I should do. Give me your orders. I promise to submit myself to all that You desire of me and to accept all that you permit to happen to me. Let me only know Your will. Amen.Then Cardinal Mercier says, “If you do this, your life will flow along happily, serenely and full of consolation. This submission to the Holy Spirit is the secret of sanctity.” It is the Spirit of God that makes us holy. It is the Spirit of God that makes us men.
It isn’t what we do, it is what the Holy Spirit, who is God, does within us. That is so important. When we surrender our lives daily to the Holy Spirit, His strength can take over. Submission to God’s Spirit is the key to manhood!
So the challenge is laid before you: be a man and start living a disciplined life of daily surrender, or be a wimp and do nothing!
Be a man!