The Descent of the Holy Spirit Upon Your Family
by Soren & Ever Johnson
In this time of Pentecost, it is an opportune moment to ask: How is your family experiencing the descent of the Holy Spirit? To be clear, we’re not wondering if tongues of fire have fallen into your living room, or if a white dove has landed on your windowsill. These types of Holy Spirit moments found in Scripture—while stunning and powerful—are a different topic for another day.
Instead, we’re talking about your family’s living awareness of the Holy Spirit’s power within the four walls of your home—about intentionally inviting the Holy Spirit into your daily life. We’re talking about small habits that can lead to an extraordinary new chapter in your home. To do this, we invite you to consider trying one or more of the following habits as a family.
1. Pray “Come, Holy Spirit”
This one is easy. Just start praying this prayer together as a family in the evening or at the beginning of the day. You’ll be amazed at how, over time, this ancient prayer opens up your family’s understanding of the Holy Spirit.
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.
2. Memorize the 7 Gifts and the 12 Fruits of the Holy Spirit
Daily family life without a knowledge of the 7 gifts and 12 fruits is like driving blindfolded. The Holy Spirit—through baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, and our life of prayer—desires to help us, intercede for us, and bless us with His gifts and fruits.
Take time as a family to (re)memorize them, study them, and weave them into your conversations. Gifts: fear of the Lord, piety, fortitude, counsel, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. Fruits: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity (CCC 1832).
To jumpstart this, try this beautiful custom of Servant of God Catherine Doherty (1896-1985): Make paper cut-outs of doves or tongues of fire, enough for each family member. On one side, write a gift of the Spirit, and on the other, a fruit of the Spirit. Place them in a basket. Then, during a special family meal, read Acts 2:1-13 together, and then have each family member draw one from the basket. Over dinner, each person shares with the others which gift and fruit they received. Close the dinner by singing a hymn to the Holy Spirit such as “Come, Holy Ghost.”
3. Double your Quality Family Time from 37 to 74 Minutes Per Day
Ha. Got your attention! You may have heard this description of the Holy Trinity before: the Father is the lover, the Son is the beloved, and the Holy Spirit is the love that bonds them and goes forth from them. In the “little Trinity” of your family, the quality time you spend together is when you deepen the bonds of love. One Google search reveals dozens of studies that state the obvious: distracted parents are spending less and less time with their children (an average of 37 minutes per day). Invite the Holy Spirit into this deficit in your family, and you will see a change.
4. Break out the Holy Water!
Throughout Scripture, we see that water is a symbol of the Holy Spirit—from the Spirit’s presence when water came from the rock (Ex. 17:6, Dt. 8:15, Wis 11:4), to the baptism of Jesus, and the water that flowed from Jesus’ side. When we enter a church, we make the sign of the cross with holy water, and arguably we ought to be doing this in our “domestic church”—our own home, or “Trinity House”—too.
If you don’t have one already, consider buying a holy water font to hang near your front door. Also, get out the holy water from time to time and bless your children, their rooms, and your entire home with this effective symbol of the Holy Spirit’s life and power within your home.
Let’s not allow this Pentecost to pass our busy and often distracted families by. Instead, let’s lift the life of our “little Trinity”—our own families—up to the Holy Spirit, “the artisan of God’s works, the master of prayer,” (CC 741), and invite the Holy Spirit to renew our homes.
Come, Holy Spirit!