Power of the Holy Spirit - A Testimony
By Fr. Tom Kraft, OP
Power is a word that we use in many different ways in our lives. We have electronic power, mechanical power, we see the power of nature all the time, the human power, the power of an intellectual person, the power of an athlete or whatever it is, political power and financial power.
But all these powers are nothing, really, in comparison to the power of the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit is THE power in our lives. And the power of the Holy Spirit gives us the power to love, and that’s the greatest power that we have. As we love people, as we give our lives to people as fathers and mothers, priests and lay people, as workers and in all that we do, we have the power to love.
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Holy Trinity who is God and who whispers words of love and guidance in my heart; the voice of my conscience really guiding me to truth and goodness. When I think of the Holy Spirit I always think of that wonderful story from Elijah. Remember Elijah, up on the mountain and God’s going to come; and first we have the earthquake, but God’s not in the earthquake. Then we have the fire, but God’s not in the fire. Then the wind, but He’s not in the wind. And then God comes. Remember? God is in that whispering voice. Whispering to his heart, the Lord is speaking. Elijah hides his face and the Lord speaks to him in a whisper.
And so, the Holy Spirit always directs me to love and mercy - to the love of God. I know that in my heart, I know that in my ministry as a priest. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God who wants nothing more than that we do His will. Mother Teresa says that holiness consists in doing the will of God with a smile. And sometimes that’s pretty easy and sometimes it’s very difficult; and you know as well as I, the will of God sometimes can be quite a challenge in our lives.
The Spirit of God, called holy, wants to make me holy – set apart – consecrated to the Lord to serve the people of God and give my life as an offering acceptable to Christ.
The Spirit of God wants to liberate us from sin and death and give us life in Christ now and forever.
The Spirit of God will guide you to the truth that Jesus is Lord of heaven and earth and that He is present through His Spirit which we see manifest in the gifts of the Spirit: wisdom and understanding, counsel and strength, knowledge, fear of the Lord and piety. (cf. Isaiah 11:2-3) The truth of the Word of God will set you free.
Two and half months ago I was cruising along, working and working hard and then little by little I had trouble eating. I got to the point where I couldn’t eat and so I decided, ok, time to go to the doctor. I always delay these things. I think “I’m not going to go to the doctor, I’m sure it’s something minor that’s happening to me.” But I couldn’t eat and I lost a lot of weight. So I went to the doctor and he took lots of ultrasounds and all kinds of tests.
When he told me that I had stage 4 cancer I thought he was going to die. He had this horrified look on his face and I’m sure he didn’t want to tell me. But he did and I felt very confused. But I knew right away and I told the Lord, even at that point, I said “Lord, I accept it.” I accept it tearfully, knowing that through this pain and discomfort, I will grow closer to the Lord. I really felt that was the Holy Spirit right there because people react in different ways when they hear the bad news – angry, upset, very confused – but I was accepting. I accepted God’s will.
I know that the Lord can take my suffering and use it for good, we know that from our Catholic Tradition. That’s why Jesus died on the cross. He died for us an excruciatingly painful death and from that came life! The Spirit of God is leading me to a greater love of the Lord by going through what St John of the Cross calls “the thicket of suffering.” And so, I offer my sufferings for the good of the Dominican province and the souls who do not know Christ so that maybe what I’m experiencing will help some other people.
Yesterday I met with the doctor to review my CT scan. He came into the room and I knew that something incredible had happened. He said, “I want to share some good news with you. The cancer is shrinking.” I looked up to heaven and right away said, “Thank you, Lord and thank you Blessed Teresa of Calcutta for your intercession.”
And thanks to you, you that know me, that have been praying for me, and even those of you who don’t know me but are maybe praying for me right now. That’s the power of prayer, right? Prayer is going to do it! Even the doctor said, “medicine can only take you so far and then God is going to take you for the long run.” God is going to continue to heal me and I know that your prayers will heal me – I am so confident of that fact and that confidence keeps growing. Prayer is the key in my healing and the healing of others. If God wants to continue to use me in my ministry as a priest, it will be a miracle through prayer.
I have been worried and anxious about many things – yet I have decided to live in the peace of the Holy Spirit. I want to live each moment in the peace of the Holy Spirit – not to be worried or anxious about anything. I want the Spirit of love, joy, peace, and kindness to shine forth from me at all times and help the people I serve.
I want the Spirit to preach through me, act through me, smile through me, serve through me. I want the Spirit of God to shine through me in the celebration of the Eucharist because Christ is really the priest and He is the only celebrant.
Mother Teresa said something else I’d like to share with you: The Good News is that God still loves the world through you. You are God’s Good News. You are God’s love in action. Each time anyone comes in contact with us, they must become different and better people because of having met us. We must radiate God’s love. We have to; that’s the Spirit working in us. We must allow that Spirit of God’s love to radiate from us, to touch different people in different ways.
This article is copyrighted by WWCCR, in Seattle. It appeared in the July 2008 issue of Gleanings Newsletter. Reprinted with permission.