In the Gospel of John, Jesus speaks to His apostles of the difficult times they will encounter ahead, warning them so that when the time comes they “will not fall away” (John 16:1). One of the sufferings that He mentions is that they will be put out of the synagogues. Does this sound familiar? Of course the circumstances are different, but the same principles can be applied today, when many Catholics find themselves unable to enter their usual places of worship. Jesus knew how difficult this would be for His disciples. He also foretells the pain they will experience when He is taken from them, a pain similar to the suffering of being unable to receive Him in the Eucharist. So what answer does Jesus give them, give us? How does He expect us to hold on during these difficult times?

As He often does, Jesus flips the whole scenario on its head and says, “It is for your benefit that I am going away. You are filled with grief…But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away” (John 16:6-7). How could this be a good thing? Listen to what Jesus says: “Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7). Jesus is excited to share the intimate love between Himself and the Father with us. It is this power of love that carried Jesus through the most painful hours of His Passion and allowed Him to endure to the end. In these turbulent times, He wants to give us the same power of love that He carried within Himself.

We have an all-powerful Advocate dwelling within the temple of our souls, and we do not have to wait until the churches are opened to visit Him. Let us pause and go within ourselves right now, calling upon Him with trust. With His aid, nothing can stop the power of His love working within us! This is what Jesus had in mind. In fact, He even said that His followers will be identified by their love for one another (John 13:35). He wants us to live in the same self-forgetful, sacrificial love that He lived in, for the Father and for all of our brothers and sisters. The more we choose love during these difficult days, the more our hearts will be filled with the presence of the One who is Love. We will find ourselves filled with God, with love, and our hearts will rejoice!

A Prayer to the Holy Spirit (by Cardinal Mercier)
I am going to reveal to you the secret of sanctity and happiness. Every day for five minutes control your imagination and close your eyes to all the noises of the world in order to enter into yourself. Then, in the sanctuary of your baptized soul (which is the temple of the Holy Spirit) speak to that Divine Spirit, saying to Him:

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.

If you do this, your life will flow along happily, serenely, and full of consolation, even in the midst of trials. Grace will be proportioned to the trial, giving you the strength to carry it and you will arrive at the Gate of Paradise, laden with merit. This submission to the Holy Spirit is the secret of sanctity.

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