Saturday of the Fifth Week of Easter

In Acts 16:1-10, Paul and Timothy tried to proclaim the gospel throughout what we would now call Asia Minor.  But they were stopped, according to the text, by the Holy Spirit, and after Paul had a vision, they decided to cross over into what we now call Europe.  In other words, the initial intentions of the missionaries to work in Asia Minor were altered as a result of various prayer experiences, and they went to Europe instead.

Those of us who believe that it is possible to be guided by the Holy Spirit might do well to reflect further on this passage, especially if we believe that the Holy Spirit is much better at guiding things than we are.  Were Paul and Timothy doing something special to make themselves attentive to the motions of the spirit?  Are there some aspects of their behavior that we can imitate so that it will be easier for ourselves to receive guidance from God?

Perhaps there is one thing to note in this regard.  As the text says: “they handed on to the people for observance the decisions reached by the Apostles and presbyters in Jerusalem” (Acts 16:4).  In other words, they allowed the core of their message to shaped by Church leadership.  Is this not the same reason St. Ignatius includes a chapter in his Spiritual Exercises called: “Rules for thinking with the Church?”   Proper spiritual discernment takes place only in a context of promoting Church teaching.

May 20th, 2017