Wednesday 26 June 2019

Why We Need the Holy Spirit - Chris Padgett - 40 Days to a Deeper Encounter with the Lord and Giver of Life

Why We Need the Holy Spirit:
40 Days to a Deeper Encounter with the Lord and Giver of Life
Chris Padgett
Little Red House Publishing
ISBN 9780999021101
Word Among Us Press Edition
ISBN 9781593252731

I picked this book up to read after listening to a few audio talks by Chris. I actually started the book a few times before I made it through. No fault of the author or material, I just kept missing days and was slow getting back to it. But once I got going, I looked forward to the next installment as I worked through the book over 40 days. The book takes a walk through the Acts of the Apostles. It looks at the work of the Holy Spirit in that book, at what the Spirit did and helped us the believers to overcome. It looks at physical, spiritual, and supernatural barriers that were overcome. It also examines conflict between different religious, and even internal conflict within the fledgling community of believers. I admit I love Chris Padgett’s Divine Mercy Audio reflection, and that I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Each of the 40 meditations in this book follow the same format. They begin with a quote from scripture, followed by a Catechetical Application, practical Application, and ends with some questions for reflection. Some have as few as 1 question and others as many as four, and sometimes even with subsequent questions. In the introduction Chris states:

“Many Catholics give the Holy Spirit little more than a cursory glance. We invoke him as we make the Sign of the Cross during the Mass and acknowledge him during the Creed, but do we really know him? Do we really need to know him? If so, how can we know him?”

And the introduction ends with these words:

“In this book, we show how the gifts of the Spirit given to you at baptism and strengthened at confirmation are meant to be applied at every moment of your day. These gifts— wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord— help us to love and serve God and our neighbor. The more we reflect upon them and strive to live in them, the more we will be able to endure whatever happens in our lives. So the question isn’t whether or not we need the Holy Spirit in our life but how can we build a relationship with him— the One who has sealed us in baptism, strengthened us in confirmation, and calls us to do amazing things for Christ in this life. Today is the day to begin understanding what it means to encounter and walk with the Holy Spirit!”

I have been involved with charismatic movements within the Catholic Church, and across denominational lines. What I love about this book is that it is not a how to live a life in the spirit book. It does not have the goal that everyone will speak in tongues by the end of 40 days. In fact, it’s focus from the above two quotes is exactly the opposite. It is about understanding the Holy Spirit and about relationship with the spirit. And through that learning to live the gifts and fruit of the spirit in our own lives. When I was in university the first time the book Good Morning Holy Spirit by Benny Hinn was immensely popular for a while on Campus. As much as I do not agree with most of Hinn’s teachings, waking up each day and greeting Father, Spirit and Son is a good way to start the day. This book will help us grow in our understanding of the Spirit and deepen our relationship with this member of the trinity. A sample chapter from the book is:

Thirteenth Meditation

“And Simon answered, ‘Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.’”

– Acts 8:24

Catechetical Application
How can you encounter the Holy Spirit through this passage?
What does it say about who the Holy Spirit is, what he does, and the gifts he gives?

The story of Simon the Magician is very interesting. Simon was quite famous in Samaria, and many people there respected and followed him. When Philip preached the Gospel in the area, Simon believed and was baptized. He saw great signs and miracles performed, and he was “amazed” (Acts 8:13). When Peter and John heard that the people of Samaria were receiving the Word of God, they made their way there to pray for them to receive the Holy Spirit. “Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me also this power, that any one on whom I lay my hands my receive the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8:18,19). This did not go over well. “But Peter said to him, ‘Your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent therefore of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8:20-24). Wow!

In the fifth chapter of Acts, we saw that the high priest and Sadducees were jealous of the apostles and throw them in jail. The people who belonged to the synagogue of freedmen and others instigated many to speak falsely about St. Stephen, causing him to be stoned to death. We also saw Simon the Magician was struggling with sin. Why? Because he was likely jealous at the way God was working through the apostles, and he determined to buy what could not be purchased. The sin is called out, and he cries out for forgiveness.

We may not have attempted to purchase the things of God, but we all have struggled with sin. I bet it is likely that we have been bitter and jealous of others. Sin often causes hurt and pain to others, whereas the gift of the Holy Spirit brings peace and forgiveness. While we may not be called out by the Church for our sins, the Holy Spirit calls each of us to repentance.

Practical Application
What does this passage say to you about your own life?

Everyone has sinned, in some manner, at some time. People who seem to have everything together are probably just better at appearances. We often build walls and wear masks because we don’t want to be hurt. We want others to look up to us and see us as strong and confident in our faith. It is difficult to have a particular sin pointed out, but if we receive such correction in a spirit of humility, great growth can occur.

Think about a gifted coach, one entrusted with training a team to compete at the highest level of their sport. We can imagine him or her not only implementing a thought-out physical regimine but also an emotional and psychological one as well to train the athletes under their charge. The well-known saying mind over matter is often true in the journey towards athletic success, and an effective coach knows his or her players well enough to ensure such an outcome.

Simon the Magician, who was seriously mistaken in his understanding of God’s ways, can teach us much about ourselves and our own sins. Simon cries out for mercy, which shows that he accepted the reality of his grave sin and desired healing. We sometimes spend too much time trying to justify our sins, instead of learning from them and wanting to change. If we fully believed that the Church and its teachings have been given to show us the right path, would it be easier to accept our sins and seek healing in the sacrament of reconciliation?

There can be a tendency among Christians to lift up a person as a role model to the point of almost “divinizing” him. When someone is seen as having their spiritual life completely together, we need to be careful not to resent—or be envious—their holiness and even wish for their demise. Remember—Paul condemned the unhealthy tendency to idolize certain leaders in the Church, noting that some were aligning themselves with their “spiritual heroes,” such as himself, Apollos, Peter, etc. rather than Jesus.

Maybe you struggle with comparing yourself with others. Maybe this started as a desire to be better or as an appreciation for another’s holiness, but in the end it has left you conflicted and uneasy. To become aware that we need to be on guard against envy is a sign of a maturing faith. If we want to be a true gift to others, we must always be open to letting the Holy Spirit make whatever refinements and changes in our lives that are needed for true sanctity.

When we have sinned, the remedy is confession. To acknowledge our sin and ask for healing is how we as Christ’s followers protect ourselves against jealousy, envy, and bitterness. Confession is the way we get back on track to true spiritual health. We all have a long way to go on our journey; none of us have yet arrived. But the love God has for each of us is so profound that he will bring people into our lives who can help us see that we are not a lost cause.

You may have noticed that this magician’s name was Simon, and in many ways I think the juxtaposition of this Simon the Magician with Simon Peter is intentional. The latter was chosen by Christ as the first bishop of Rome, the first pope, after allowed the Lord to shine his love in the darkest places of his life. The former accepts the mercy of Christ and become set on the right path towards healing. What will your story be like if you allow the love of God to correct and heal you?

What are areas in your life that need to be confessed for healing?
How can you protect against jealousy and bitterness?
What keeps you from confession?”

This book is a wonderful read. It is a book all Christians could benefit from reading. I really enjoyed it once I got going and stuck with it. And it is a book I can easily recommend. And the titles of several other books by Padgett are really intriguing so I expect I will be reading and reviewing them soon.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Chris Padgett:
Why We Need the Holy Spirit
I'm Not OK. You're Not OK. But It's OK!
Spirituality You Can Live With-Stronger faith in 30 days
Why the Eucharist Matters for Your Life
Wholly Mary: Mother of God
Falling Forward


Books with Linda Padgett:
Holy Marriage, Happy Marriage: Faith-Filled Ways to a Better Relationship
Not Ready for Marriage, Not Ready for Sex: One Couple's Return to Chastity
Marriage and Ministry: How to Have One Without Destroying the Other


Audio Talks by Chris Padgett:
Get to Know the Mother of God
The Rosary Project: A Celebration of Prayer and Song
Slaying Giants: Preparing for Greatness


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