Today we honour the memory of Saint Athanasius, an Egyptian bishop and Doctor of the Church who died in 373. Athanasius defended the Church against the Arian heresy which held that Christ was only a man and not divine. Go to Mass in many of our parish churches on Sunday and you will see that Arianism is still alive and kicking in the 21st century. As we honour Saint Athanasius as a defender of the Catholic Faith, let us pause to reflect on how we witness to the Faith in our own lives.
You may have read about the woman in Belgium who set out in her car to pick up a friend from the airport ninety miles away. Seemingly, her GPS device led her astray. Surprisingly, she continued to follow it and ended up about nine hundred miles south of her intended destination.
Now, this doesn’t have to be our fate in the spiritual life. Because the Holy Spirit lives in us, we can trust that God will never lead us astray.
As Paul and Silas continued their missionary journey, they made sure to ask the Holy Spirit for direction and guidance, and their prayers were answered. The Holy Spirit prevented them from going to Bithynia. We don’t know exactly how this happened, but something made them change their plans. The Spirit also spoke to them in a dream, leading them to Philippi. Unlike the woman who followed her GPS device without question, Paul and Silas sought to discern the Spirit’s voice and cooperated with him. As a result, they met Lydia and her friends who became the first European converts.
The Holy Spirit wants us to have the same confidence that Paul and Silas had. He wants us to seek his guidance, trusting that he will answer. Of course, there will be trial and error—perhaps even a lot of error at first—but that’s the best thing about the Holy Spirit. He is infinitely patient.
So we shouldn’t be surprised when we encounter obstacles in our spiritual lives. It may be that we choose another path which presents itself to us. That’s the time to ask the Holy Spirit if he is trying to redirect us. God will always work with us as long as we work with him.