Discerning of the promptings of the Holy Spirit

Dear friends in the Lord, it is very important in our day today life to discern the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Even when we go for preaching God’s Word, we listen to the Holy Spirit, so that our word reaches the proper persons and bear fruits, similarly in your individual personal life too you may have so many projects and goals to achieve but it’s very important that we listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit seriously so that the road on which we walk really takes us to the target showed by the Holy Spirit, else we land up at a dead end and after hard work we may not reap the fruits that is expected of us by the Holy Spirit. I just want to prove by examples particularly the example of St. Paul in his missionary journey and another typical example of Blessed Virgin Mary in her visitation to Elizabeth.

If we read Acts, 16:6-10,  you will find how St. Paul was attentive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. At a particular time, when Paul and his companion wanted to go and preach the Gospel in a particular region of Roman empire, called Asia at that time and a part of Turkey, in Modern times, the Holy Spirit stopped him, and then again he thought of going to certain other regions like Frichia, Galatia, similarly some other areas nearby but once again the Holy Spirit blocked him. The Holy Spirit did not allow him to take that route to Asia Minor or Misia or ethinia on the contrary at night as he was praying, he had a vision. He was shown as going to Macedon. Once upon a time, that was a kingdom of Philip, the father of Alexander the great. As Paul was affirming of his call to go to Macedon, they brought him certain person from Macedon who came to call him. So he went there to preach and it was a success for him. But what is important here is that how Holy Spirit is blocking a person from going to a particular place or person. Sometimes we think why not go to this place or to this person or to this house, why not have contact with this person and talk to him or at other times to convert this place, this home, this family or this mission, it may not work. God has his own plans. Our Lord has said beautifully well once “you cannot throw the pearls before the pigs” because the pigs cannot appreciate the value of the pearls.

Pearls are something valuable which the pigs do not understand similarly the Gospel or Good News, the Good News of peace and God’s kingdom will not be understood by some people so we need to discern even before we start preaching a particular message to a certain persons or church or a new mission or a family. In our own dealing with people sometimes I have seen people who are over enthusiastic and want to visit all types of houses and start praying with their hands up. Now, stop a minute. Pray to the Holy Spirit; ask for His guidance and counsel. What does the Holy Spirit say in this place or to this person or to this family or to this mission?  What does the Holy Spirit wanting to do? All mission may not be successful because it may not be the proper time or it may be done just out of our selfishness or the listener may not be ready for listening to your word. God alone knows his way. Therefore it’s very important before we start a mission, say preaching mission to discern about ‘to who are you sent’.

The Good News is given to people, and we, as messengers of the Lord, as carriers of God Message, we are sent that’s why the Lord called apostles , people who have been sent, the apostles actually are sent to a mission, on a mission and our Lord chose disciples, seventy two disciples and sent them two by two. It is not exactly that disciples chose to go somewhere; they were sent on a mission so once you are sent you are given certain authority to preach the Word to particular person, to particular mission, to particular place or to particular family, go and God’s power will go with you. This is obedience to the Holy Spirit. It may look very simple, but only when we prepare ourselves in utter emptiness, empty ourselves of all selfishness and selfish goals, can we listen to His promptings. If I am carrying my own selfish goals, selfish motivations, I may not do what God wants of me, someone may choose to go to a particular place or particular mission because he thinks there are people who give a lot of donation. Mark well what your motivation is. There may be some rich people who give a lot of money. But is that your purpose? People may pour you with money but they may not have actually accepted your gospel message, in the mean while you are manipulated by money in such a way that you forget to tell the truth. You give only part of it, for money might have silenced you. Therefore make yourself free to listen to the Holy Spirit where to go, whom to go or when to go, in what way to present yourself to the person and the Holy Spirit will guide you.

And what’s the sign? There is a very important need for self-examination. Do you have a selfish motivation? Whose needs are you going to fulfill? Are you going to fulfill the needs of God, His purpose, His plan or you are taking up your own selfish things? Yes, if I go here I will be able to fish some big rich people it may be alright in the eyes of the people but in the eyes of God it may be a failure. You got big money. Money may not be always the sign of God’s Holy Spirit. Certain places you may be going you may not have any money but the people are very happy even after you leave people are very happy even in my experience in the past so many years to so many places I have gone in European countries like England, Switzerland, France, Germany, Canada, States and certain places only some people will be there very poor donations will be there but people are extremely happy and they feel exuberantly, spiritually satisfied. And there will be some other place you may have got a big money, big donation but you may be thinking, that I am good preacher, I have done a big work because my bag is full but people go empty in their hearts, they have given you donation and they have silenced you. You are not talking to them exactly the truth sometimes people think that big donation is a sign of successful preaching very many times successful preaching will be a part of crucifixion.

Lord’s successful preaching ended up in crucifixion. You have to discern in prayer in what direction the Holy Spirit is calling me, in what way my ministry of preaching or bringing God’s Word brings real spiritual growth in the people and really helps a person to grow in faith and that is it and personally speaking one of the signs I find is that a certain personal peace. I had been several times gone to several places after three days preaching I come back to my rook totally famished totally worn out I am tired and those are the days I have spent deep in prayer and ultimately I used to feel yes God has made someone hear I may be going back without a big donation or big offering….

Therefore ultimately, my internal peace and then occasionally we get some people who call me or write to me I became this and that , recovered from alcoholism , reconciled with wife or wife has been living wavered life and has stopped. People necessarily need not bring donations but they give you certain signs of spiritual growth in faith and spiritual. Discerning the promptings of the Holy Spirit even before you visit a family; go for a preaching mission or starting a new mission somewhere and all those things. Momentary success is not a symptom of success on the contrary your own internal peace to what extent people are living a spiritual life of course, and faith. So this is one example, example of Paul how he was blocked from going to certain places and on the contrary the Holy Spirit himself gives the vision go in this direction and by listening to that Holy Spirit in prayer and His mission happens to be wonderful mission . Similarly I take the example of our Lady’s visitation to Elizabeth. Read Luke. 1:39-45.

How Blessed Virgin Mary is prompted by the Holy Spirit by the message of the angel Gabriel to visit Elizabeth in her old age. She was going to give birth to a child and it’s a wonderful example. Our Lady as a young maid she listened to God’s word, believed in God’s Word and received the eternal word in her womb and Holy Spirit through angel Gabriel inspires her, go visit Elizabeth. The promptings of the Holy Spirit is a very important opportunity for her to listen to him and she goes in a  haste, she does not wait once she heard the promptings of the Holy spirit she does not delay its very important because when the Holy Spirit speaks to us we should not postpone it. Now it’s your time God has given you time start and she goes in haste to Judea as some tradition says to the place of Elizabeth called Icarin now it’s the Judean forest area and from Nazareth in Galilee it may take quite some time to reach those days  no taxi, car or aero plane like  that they have to use caravans some poor people were going on foot, walking perhaps our Lady went with her husband Joseph may be on a small little pony so it would have taken three to four days to reach the place and her visitation to Elizabeth takes place on the promptings of the Holy Spirit and the urging words of the archangel Gabriel and she goes there and what we find she greets the woman Elizabeth and the greeting inspires her and her child, her baby in the womb of Elizabeth are full of happiness, exuberant even the baby starts jumping so this is another sign that your following of the Holy Spirit is on the right track because the moment that you are listening to the Holy Spirit and the fruit of that action is something called joy .


Joy and peace always signs of the Holy Spirit but on the contrary confusion and sadness that is sign that it is not the Holy Spirit working because Holy Spirit brings you peace, certain eternal joy when the Holy Spirit is taken away or you are standing away from the Holy Spirit and you feel certain confusion within you certain depression certain sadness.  Sadness, a sad spirit as they say depression certain confusion these are all signs that you are a little away from the Holy spirit and therefore once again what I want to say always Angel Gabriel will not come to you to speak to you and do not expect the Holy Spirit will come to you with a cell phone as if Holy Spirit will call you from heaven with a cell phone. No you have to sit in prayer and prayer is a place where you come in touch with God. Prayer is not mumbling few words. Deep interiorly you let yourself. Selfishness is a enemy to yourself. Your enemy is not staying anywhere else your enemy is yourself selfishness, selfish motivation or selfish interest that is your own enemy. People will think that they should be successful, this place I should carry that much money and very often today missionaries style of functioning collections, donations, offers the more the money, the better the mission, the more the money, more success in your mission having money is not ok.

If success means only money for whom does it bring happiness for the preacher it’s not that preaching God’s word first God’s way the word is given to the people how much happiness, peace, joy, faith is produced in the listeners that is important and to that extent you can say I may go empty my hands may be empty-handed, that is better you are free from the worldly desires and manipulations. Money may be a manipulation rich people’s donation may be a manipulation for you. You may be thinking that money is a very big thing. No on the contrary here when we see our Lady is visiting Elizabeth and Elizabeth and her baby are so full of happiness. Elizabeth was full of Spirit, she was fully anointed by the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed ‘who am I that the mother of my lord has come to me’ to visit me so that’s the kind of Spirit that’s getting our Lady did not carry her some money nor did Elizabeth give her a donation, the baby at the womb of the old lady, the child is filled by the Holy Spirit anointed and the ladies are also anointed freed by the worldly desires and that is there is a kind of freedom, joy and peace of the Holy Spirit. This is the sign or the criteria you are listening  to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and your mission is successful and definitely our Lady’s mission to Elizabeth is a successful mission because this is where Elizabeth recognizes Blessed Virgin as the mother  of the Lord because no one else to that time recognizes Blessed Virgin as the Mother of the Lord, to recognize Mary as the mother of the Lord has an important meaning because she recognizes the Savior, the redeemer, the redeemer of Israel. Therefore to be able to read the Blessed Virgin as the mother of my Lord, she is the one who brings the redeemer to me and the redemption of people has come at hand so the message is carried

Therefore in one way the visitation of Blessed Virgin to Elizabeth created the church the believing church. So visitation to Elizabeth is the moment of creation of a believing church in a redeemer. So Elizabeth one way crystallization of the Believing Church because no one before that actually recognized here is the redeemer is not very spoken about Joseph perhaps definitely he believed but the way it is brought our here, Elizabeth recognizes the mother of my Lord’, mother of my redeemer, she is bringing the redeemer who brings salvation to people of Israel. Therefore in one way Elizabeth is a symbol of new Israel, the believing Church that we are, therefore all this is taking place because our Lady is listening to the promptings of the holy Spirit it may look very simple but this mission is the mission of the church today. Our Lady’s visitation to Elizabeth is an example to all of us for to be a missionary whether he is preaching in India, Australia, Africa or anywhere else whether he is a catholic or protestant or a Pentecost it doesn’t matter. Our Lady stands out as a fantastic example of a missionary who can listen to the promptings f the Holy Spirit carries God’s Word and brings real faith and faith is the gift of the Holy Spirit. Joy is another gift so faith, peace and Joy these are the symptoms of the promptings of the Holy Spirit that you listen to him. Therefore dear brothers and sisters today I have given you two beautiful examples of our Lady and St. Paul how they listened to the Holy Spirit and the promptings of the Holy Spirit and they were success in their mission and that’s same we need in our private life, in our social life, in our missionary activities today people are so of social activities. Social activity is very good sure. Social activity must be guided by the promptings to the Holy Spirit otherwise it may be simply you are fulfilling your own selfish motivations. You may be thinking that you are doing beautiful work but whose needs are you fulfilling? Is it for your own selfish reasons? That may happen like that of course today you may say like cricket, football, tennis, people may say one player is successful because he is getting big money , a big money for him adds to success but cannot calculate success in Gospel mission in terms of money. Counting success in terms of money is in a business world for people

So many people are working in business line let us day today big software companies, banking industries what is the success of banking industry, collecting money. What is success in software companies let us say Wipro, Infosys and what not they all count their success in terms of money now in what terms will you count success in Gospel mission. Is it in terms of donations, in terms of money because you have successfully collected money for your TV channel it’s a very wrong way of equation. Spiritual life cannot be counted in terms of money you have to just think about just this example, the visitation of Our Lady to Elizabeth. In terms of spiritual life, faith, ultimately Elizabeth is made to believe in the same way so the ultimate product is faith in spiritual life and growth in it. Therefore I wish every one of you to spend some time everyday to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and for which your heart needs to be free to him, listen to him.

By Rev.Fr.V.Ignatius S.J