During these 50 days of Easter joy, we also can look forward to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. The Holy Spirit strengthened the disciples so they could preach God's word without fear. What would you do if you let the Holy Spirit inspire you?
"The Holy Spirit instills (Jesus') teaching in our heart, helps us to internalize it, making it become part of us, flesh of our flesh," Pope Francis said on Pentecost Sunday last year. "Every time the word of Jesus is received with joy in our heart, this is the work of the Holy Spirit."
Often when people would tell me how a good intention became a ministry or campaign to help others, they would say they invited the Holy Spirit to be part of the decision-making process. This takes great openness and humility.
I once interviewed Kathy DiFiore, who said the Holy Spirit inspired her to start Several Sources, a network of shelters in New Jersey for homeless teenage mothers and a daytime shelter for homeless and abused women. With all of her different responsibilities, she humbly prays that the Holy Spirit helps her prioritize what is important.
"And if I'm not doing what (God) wants, he (the Holy Spirit) has a right to pick up his divine two-by-four, hit me over the head a couple times and I'll pay attention," she said.
This reminded me of what Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa once said while visiting the Diocese of Arlington in 2014: Letting the Holy Spirit work in our lives is a way to arrive at sanctity -- that is why Pentecost is important.
"When we live in intimacy with the Holy Spirit, every day is and should be extraordinary," Cardinal Rodriguez said. "There will be less negative things if we have the courage to take the Holy Spirit to the midst of our society. ... It's not easy. I know. But for God, nothing is impossible if we believe, if we are people of faith."
Today, we might not see the Holy Spirit as a "strong, driving wind" or "tongues as of fire" like it did to the disciples, but you can see his works in your life, if you let him. He can take us from idleness or fear into action and hope.
Just like with the disciples in the upper room, the Holy Spirit gives us the courage and strength to go forth. Trusting in the Trinity and handing over control to the Holy Spirit, or being open to his guidance, produces a sensation of peace.
In hard situations, Holy Spirit-inspired courage can be a special gift for stressed-out hearts. Even when we feel weak, confused and we do not know how to pray, the Holy Spirit -- as artisan of God's works -- intercedes for us.
If we give him room to counsel us through prayer, he can give us the strength to approach things differently, face challenges and take actions that would lead us to become the best versions of ourselves.
As we approach the feast of Pentecost, reflect on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. What gifts have you been given? How are you called to use those gifts to benefit others? Which one do you need in your life?
By embracing the Holy Spirit, we can go forth in the world to discover and do God's will.