My Catholic Faith! Study Session Six

Session 6 – The Holy Spirit

Pre-meeting Prep

Participants should be asked to read Chapter Six of the My Catholic Faith! book prior to this meeting.

5 minutes – Gather

Snacks and informal social time as people gather.

Try to be punctual and gather everyone together no longer than 5 minutes after the scheduled starting time.

5 minutes – Opening prayer and Scripture

Everyone sits quietly and the leader begins with the sign of the Cross and then invites a period of silence in the following way:

“Let us quiet ourselves as we begin this study of our glorious Catholic faith together.  ‘Lord, as we sit here for a minute in silence help each one of us to bring our own questions, concerns, fears and joys to You.  Help us, in this moment of silence, to be attentive to Your gentle voice speaking to us, directing us, and calling us to a deeper faith.'”

Take about a minute in silence with eyes closed so that each person can speak to our Lord about their own particular cares and concerns.

Leader reads the following invitation: Let us ponder the Word of God. Let us reflect upon our own faith journey with the following questions: Do I believe?  How deep is my faith?  Am I open to letting God speak to me?  Am I open to the Word of God and willing to let God’s truth sink in more deeply?  Am I willing to let this new faith change my life?

The leader of the night prayerfully reads the following Scriptures, one at a time, pausing for about 30 seconds between each verse:

John 20:19-23 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  (Jesus) said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Acts 2:1-13  When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together.  And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were.  Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.  Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem.  At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language.  They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?  Then how does each of us hear them in his own native language?  We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.”  They were all astounded and bewildered, and said to one another, “What does this mean?”  But others said, scoffing, “They have had too much new wine.”

Romans 8:26-27 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

Leader then says: Let us take a moment in silence reflecting upon these words. (a minute of silence)  

The Leader invites everyone to close their eyes and join in the following prayer from St. Augustine:

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.

The prayer time concludes with everyone professing the Apostles’ Creed:  

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

45-50 minutes – Discussion questions

Each person should be invited to share something or ask a question, if he/she chooses, regarding the questions/discussion starters below.  Go through one question at a time and give each person an opportunity to say something if he/she chooses.  Avoid having one or two persons dominate the discussion.  Go around the circle and do not be afraid to share!  Your insights may assist someone else in their understanding of the topics.  Your question may very well be the same question someone else may have.  Some of the questions below will invite a personal sharing, other questions will invite you to share with others what you read in Chapter Six.  The goal is to share both personally and to also make sure that the faith of our Church is clearly expressed and understood by all.

  1. Often the Holy Spirit is seen more as a mysterious force rather than as a person.  Discuss the idea that the Holy Spirit is a Person.  What does that mean?  
  2. The Holy Spirit is “consubstantial” with the Father and the Son.  Discuss this and express your understanding of what this very deep and philosophical word means.
  3. Discuss the Scripture used in the opening reflection from Acts 2.  This describes Pentecost.  Discuss the difference in the Apostles before and after the coming of the Holy Spirit.
  4. The Holy Spirit is present to us in various ways.  Here are the ways the Catechism identifies the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Discuss each way, one at a time.  Go slowly and make sure that everyone has a clear understanding of each way the Holy Spirit is present in the Church:
    1. in the Scriptures he inspired;
    2. in the Tradition, to which the Church Fathers are always timely witnesses;
    3. in the Church’s Magisterium, which he assists;
    4. in the sacramental liturgy, through its words and symbols, in which the Holy Spirit puts us into communion with Christ;
    5. in prayer, wherein he intercedes for us;
    6. in the charisms and ministries by which the Church is built up;
    7. in the signs of apostolic and missionary life;
    8. in the witness of saints through whom he manifests his holiness and continues the work of salvation.
  5. Discuss the various images of the Holy Spirit on pages 78-79 of the book.  Offer any reflections on these images that stood out.
  6. If there is time left over you may want to discuss the Gifts of the Holy Spirit found in the second book of this series, My Catholic Worship!  You will find the Gifts of the Holy Spirit in Chapter Four under Confirmation

20 minutes – Final reflections and sharing

Go around and give each person an opportunity to share any other final thoughts.  What stood out to each of you the most?  Do you have any final lingering questions or confusions that others can help clarify?

5 minutes – Closing prayer

Leader begins with the sign of the Cross and invites a minute of silence with all eyes closed.  Each person should reflect upon what was discussed tonight, especially what stood out to him/her the most.

After a minute of silence the leader then prays the following prayer:

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

Leader then invites everyone present to offer their own prayer in the following way (Note: this can be done out loud but it may be preferable if it’s done in silence at the discretion of the leader):

Let us now each bring our own personal concerns before our Lord trusting that He hears us and knows all we need.  Let us entrust these prayers to Him with full confidence that He desires to take control.  (take a minute of silence for each person to speak to God their own personal needs for the night)

Leader then invites everyone to close with the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be prayers.