Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Dear God: The Holy Spirit and the Conscience

Dear God,
All we hear about these days in the Gospels is that Jesus is going bye-bye and that you are sending us this thing called the “Advocate.” In the 17th chapter of the Gospel of John’s, it’s more of the same:

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that your son may give eternal life to all you gave him. Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.

As I said last week, I believe your Advocate shows up in the intimate friendships that lead us closer to the truth, and protect us from the self-destructing behavior that is almost instinctual for those of us with creative brain wiring.
But in reading the reflections of Father Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M.Cap., in my daily devotional, “Magnificat,” I realize that the Holy Spirit’s guidance might also reside within ourselves, that we need not be so obsessed about identifying it in peoples, places, and things around us, because we can learn how to hear it speak from our inner most self, if we are able to quiet the interior chatter.


Writes Fr. Raniero:

Where does the Paraclete’s role as guide actually touch us? What, if we may use the expression, are the organs through which the Spirit fulfills this function? The first arena of guidance is the conscience …
In believers the inner guide of conscience is, so to say, empowered and raised to a higher order by the anointing that “teaches everything” (1 John 2:27), and so it is an infallible guide, if we listen to it. It was, in fact, when commenting on this very point that Saint Augustine formulated the teaching on the Holy Spirit as “the teacher within.”
What, he asks, does it mean, to say, “You do not need anyone to teach you” (1 John 2:27)? Could it mean that the individual Christian already, on his own account alone, knows everything and does not need to read or to seek instruction or to listen to anyone else?
If that were the case, what point would there be in the apostle having written his letter at all?
The truth is that we do need to listen to teachers and preacher other than ourselves, but only the one to whom the Holy Spirit speaks inwardly will grasp and be able to profit by what the others are saying. This explains why many can listen to the same sermon and the same teaching, but not all will understand it in the same way.


I find all of this interesting, God, because I caught some major attitude the other day when I discussed paragraph 1776 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on a religiously conservative radio show. It says:

Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment.…. For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God….His conscience is man’s most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths.

My problem, as you well know, God, is that I have trouble hearing my conscience when I’m in either a hypomanic cycle or an addictive mode, which is a lot of the time. My craving for the addictive object is stronger than the quiet whisper of my conscience that says, “S-L-O-W D-O-W-N.” I can’t be trusted to discern what the Holy Spirit is saying to me, because it all sounds like mumble jumble to me.
I was describing my anxious and addictive state to my therapist yesterday, and she shocked me with her response: “What are you doing to pray about it?”
“Huh?” I said, floored that she mentioned the God word. But elated, really elated that I had found a counselor who could go to my inner core—to the spirit—in order to know how best to help me move through the obsessive thoughts.
“Wow,” I responded. “I wasn’t expecting you to say that.”
Then she told me that she prays before every therapy session, that she may be led by the Holy Spirit.
And that floored me even more.
She is, indeed, an instrument of the Holy Spirit. And so are my friends, especially the one who took my hand last week and told me to “concentrate on growing the tree” or laying the foundation, or treating the hole in the soul, instead of making up a set of complicated rules for how to tame my addiction.
But the Advocate also lives inside me. In my conscience. When it’s well-informed through lots scripture reading, and prayer, and quiet time, and doing everything I can do to grow the tree and not get sucked into addictions or manic cycles.

  • Marie

    The Advocate (Holy Spirit ) is with you when you are in a manic episode . He is in all of us .Book of Joel says the Spirit of God will fall on all flesh in those days . We are in those days .

  • clinton

    i think both marie and thersa have valid points
    marie yes the holy spirit is with us everywhere . even in a manic episode but the proble4m with that is wen mania hits most of us everything tends to go quickly so fast paced that wen we speak we r we speaking very fast and listen very fast . which comes to theresas point wen we try to listen to listen to the holy spirit in our mania it turns into mumble jumble ( cause we cant understand it at that time )

  • k

    I love you Therese! you also help me :)

  • karen

    yes, you’re both right. I, as a metaphysical minister can assure you that you will not hear anything fruitful with the spirit when in a manic state. Its a job to hear yourself think or anyone else for that matter. The holy spirit/the voice within is always there but you have to have the intention of wanting to hear, then, when you’re alone driving, washing dishes or any kind of quite contemplation with yourself, thats when you can hear, and will. Quiten down the chatter in your head and be still, do not think. There’s usually lots to hear. If it comes in too fast ask your higher self to slow it down so that you may translate better. If it still doesn’t, trust that your marvellous brain got all of it and it will translate out in your dreams or through the week, bit by bit. There seems to be many ways in which communication can come, each will be felt differently. Maybe colors, numbers, signs, another language, etc. At times there’s no voice, don’t be discouraged. Its like everything else, takes practice and learn to trust your information received than to think your ego just gave it. That is the hardest part to discern in those moments. But in no time you will be able to differienate between holy messages and ego talking.

  • Di

    oh that is so mm, awesome. Wow. You are a relative of mine Therese. Thank you for your giving of self. No curtains, no covers, no smoke screen. Of the flesh as the rest of us, yet strong enough to encourage and tell us about something each of us can have. Regardless of the medical condition. We have to embrace ourselves, even with medical conditions, with addictions and cravings, with manic days, depressive days, always constantly hiking on to do better. We owe it to our Advocate to continue to participate in life, even if that means to admit to our Advocate that we feel like we no longer want to participate in life (I go there from time to time. It doesn’t feel as scary once I recognize I’ve been there, and I have a counselor who is awesome too)
    You are fabulous Therese. Thank you for what you do here. I appreciate you.
    Keep making a difference.

  • Margaret Balyeat

    Dear, dear Therese:
    I think perhaps we’re having a “they just don’t get it moment today No one who’s never experienced a mania or hypomania can understand that what we hear sounds like a Golden Retriever is talking to us, and when we try to speak, we sound like another breed of dog to ourselves. It’s the nature of the beast. Now that you’ve helped me understand what a hypomanic episode feels like by opening yourself so descriptively a few posts back, I can ALMOST understand it myself and ‘own’ my diagnosis. But even as one who has experienced the flooding of the senses that mania produces, I can only understand to a certain point myself! It’s not that you think your conscience or the advocate has left or gone silent, it’s almost as if you need a UN translator in order to process the message,right? That’s how I feel, anywaty. Back when I wrote my post on platitudes, someone said to me that we can’t hear the positives being said to us even though we can sure hear the negatives. (I think that might have been Larry speaking.) It’s almost as if there’s a lot of static on the line and the message gets lost in the “chatter.” Or it compares to a telephone conversation intercepted by someone else’s phone, when you can hear THEIR conversation clearly but have trouble hearing your own party. Unfortunately, our brains don’t have a “channel” button to push to attempt to clear it up.I like what Karen said about our minds absorbing it een though we’re temporarily unable to process the message. Next time I have this experience, I think the FIRST thing I’ll do after it passes is pray for God to pleases allow my brain to orocess the information it stored while I was inconmmunicado”. It would be nice to do that going in, but at least in my caser, there’s not enough warning ahead of time before my senses are overwhelmed.

  • PegofMar1

    I love Father Raniero’s reflections, some of which I have read in the past. He is so right on, in my opinion.
    Therese, I am so happy for you that you and your therapist can discuss a spiritual connection.

  • Sue Plopper

    Dear Therese ,
    I am so glad that I stubbled upon your letter, I have so many ramblings going on in my brain ,half the time I don’t know if I am coming or going.I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder ,and do experience the mania that you spoke about. I also have alot more negitive thoughts than positive ones, I guess the negitive ones are crowding out the positive ones.I also have always had a relationship with God ,but it usually turns into me always talking to God in my head
    ,racing bantering ,pleading, asking why ? Why everything goes so wrong ,in my actions and decisions,thus the thoughts of “no conscience”.
    I connected up with a fairly good counselor ,but could only afford to see him a few times, he also have somewhat of a spiritual side.
    I have a bad habit of not finishing anything ,my brain runs wild planning all these things I am going to do ,ie new medication, counseing, but never do it! Most of the time I really hate myself and feel like I am no good to my family . I need help but would’nt no how to start to figure it out. All this to say that all you said really makes sense to me,I was glad to hear someone I could relate to.

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