Listening to the Holy Spirit


In the past thirty seven years of my daily association with George Schulhoff, I can assure you that we have been able to work together in perfect harmony. When we had a difference of opinion that we each felt strongly about, which was vital to the success of the business, we would let the matter rest for a few days while we each listened privately for guidance from the Holy Spirit. During our conversations with each other, we talked about the will of the Holy Spirit as if He were a human partner in our discussions.

During these thirty seven years, we have had to find answers to vital questions pertaining to the business. In one instance, we had to suppress our ambition for about fifteen years. Three times during that period, we tried to proceed but found ourselves stymied. In our private meditations, both Mr. Schulhoff and I kept going to the Holy Spirit. However, we did not get answers on how to proceed. Separately and privately, we each kept getting the answer to "wait" or that "now is not the right time." Though nothing jelled and we couldn't go ahead with our plans, we were not the least bit frustrated. In fact, we experienced great peace and patience-both fruits or rewards of the Holy Spirit. When the project was finally completed, we were given the insight to understand why we were not meant to succeed at those earlier attempts. We learned then, also, that time means nothing to God.

These experiences, in his business and in his personal life are the background for this booklet. Small though it is, it took at least thirty years to write-thirty years trying to put on paper his experiences of how to listen to and follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit. It is my prayer that the Holy Spirit and the author will help you to find that same peace and comfort that we have found by "Listening to the Holy Spirit."

Edward V. Whalen
Apostle of the Holy Spirit
President, Schulhoff Tool Rental

The Third Person

If you are a person who knows about the Trinity, how well can you say you know God the Holy Spirit? Do you recognize Him? Are you conscious of this Third Person sent by the Father and the Son? Have you experienced His presence? Do you know how to listen to Him?

Up until about fifteen or twenty years ago, I thought everyone was like me in regard to listening to the Holy Spirit.

I had been taught about the Blessed Trinity-God the Creator, God the Redeemer, and God the Sanctifier-when I was quite young. Since I did not like to read I would rather sit and listen to God. I began to dwell on the thought of the trinity and I implored the Holy Spirit to enlighten me on this mystery. From these beginnings, over seventy five years ago at the age of five, listening to the Holy Spirit has become very natural for me.

I have become convinced that most people fall into one of the following categories: 1) those who do want to listen to the Holy Spirit; 2) those who do not know how to listen to the Holy Spirit; 3) those who do not believe that it is possible to listen to the Holy Spirit.

Difficulty in Listening

If you belong to either of the last two groups, imagine yourself trying to listen intently to five or six people each talking on a different subject at the same time. Or try to imagine listening to only two people talking to you on a different subject at the same time. In both situations, it would be extremely difficult to concentrate solely on one person to know what he or she was saying.

This is the same situation that exists when you try to listen to the Holy Spirit with too many people or things offering interference. Everything and everyone else must be "turned off."

Seeking the Holy Spirit

Our Lord Jesus Christ told His followers: "Ask, and you will receive. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened to you."

If you analyze that word seek, you find that it means to go in search of; to take pains to find; to strive for.

And how do you go in search of, or take pains to find, or strive for the Holy Spirit? You do this by spending a certain amount of time each day in private meditation. This meditation is spent endeavoring to listen to the Holy Spirit without any outside distraction.

In lifting or opening the heart to God the Holy Spirit, most people tend to do all of the talking and do not allow time for a reply. You must learn how to listen. You must learn how to let the Holy Spirit do the prompting (talking). You must learn that it is not books or friends, but the Holy Spirit who gives us the gift of knowledge to answer our problems and the problems that weigh heavily upon family and friends.

My experience when reading or being advised by doctors, attorneys or specialists in any field is that I must open my heart to the Holy Spirit in order to separate the truth from the untruth, the fiction from the knowledge. No one can give me knowledge but the Holy Spirit. A person who has knowledge and tries to impart it to me, gives me information. I must experience this information that has been given to me before it becomes my knowledge. The Holy Spirit, however, can and does give you and me knowledge without our having to experience it.

Eliminate Distractions

For the person untrained in listening to the Holy Spirit, ways must be found to avoid any intrusion upon the senses of touch, sight, smell, taste or sound. Music, noise in the distance, the tick of a clock, voices of people, the gentle breeze of the wind, even the written words of others in inspirational books - each will cause a distraction and prompt us to listen to what our ear or other senses are picking up. The quieter the room or surroundings, the more conducive to listening to the Holy Spirit . . . "Whenever you pray, go to your room, close the door, and pray . . . in private."

Learning to listen was extremely difficult for me at first. There were many distractions, hindering my ability to listen, that I had to overcome. The following hints were the best methods that I discovered to isolate or remove myself from those distractions:

  • An extremely quiet room eliminated any noise that would attract attention through my ears.
  • A very comfortable position in a chair or bed helped to eliminate much of my sense of feeling. You, however, must choose the posture most helpful to you for meditation.
  • Lacing my fingers together, placing the palms together or sitting on my hands helped me become unaware of them.
  • Any odor or scent could be a distraction.
  • Closing my eyes in a dark or semi-dark room eliminated any visual distraction.

Another, though quite different, type of distraction for the beginner is curiosity, our impatience to know the future or the outcome - like wanting to peek at the last page of that mystery book when we're halfway through the story. We must be content to let the Holy Spirit guide us from moment to moment and offer the solutions, without our interference and without trying to write our own ending. Just as the child wraps his little fingers around the index finger of his father and, with complete confidence, allows himself to be guided, so too must we allow ourselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit. 'Unless you become as a little child . . ."

After eliminating all of these distractions, I was now ready to listen. As a beginner, I started by focusing my attention on the area of the heart. This attention, or concentration, continued until the actual presence of the Holy Spirit filled my heart and later my entire being.

Let Him In

If you begin thinking of your human sweetheart, you will experience, within a few seconds, his or her love filling your heart. You "know" your human sweetheart; you have had conscious contact with your human love. Your human love slips into your heart because you "know" him or her.

I am introducing you to the Holy Spirit. By accepting my suggestions you too will "experience" - "know" – the Holy Spirit.

I had to make a conscious effort to open my heart and allow or will Him to slip into my heart, because as yet I did not know Him or experience His presence. When you are conscious of this experience you too will exclaim that you have been "born again."

The devil most likely will remind you of your sins and unworthiness - as he did me - and try to discourage you. You must always remember God loves you because he created you. While you may be well aware of your unworthiness, the Holy Spirit is most anxious to dwell in your heart, the temple He created for Himself.

How to Listen

When you open your heart to the Holy Spirit, He will comfort you, counsel you, and give you strength.

Do not start your meditation by asking questions or telling the Holy Spirit what you want. He already knows. Start by simply enjoying His presence. This is the first step in meditation: this intimacy with the Holy Spirit. Continue to enjoy His presence, His peace, and His comfort until He speaks to you. At this stage, you reach the next step in meditation: listening.

Sit quietly and let the Holy Spirit possess you. Let Him lead you, as in a ballroom dance, where one must lead so that the two partners become as one. You must keep in step with the melody - His prompting and His guidance - as He leads you step by step, day by day.

In the silence, you slowly become aware of the interior Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit being released, those gifts that were given partially in baptism and in their entirety as you become confirmed in the Holy Spirit.

These are the gifts that Isaiah spoke about when he said: "The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him (the shoot that springs from the stock of Jesse), the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord."

These gifts of the Spirit become a conscious reality when you seek them by listening for them and recognizing them as the answer to an urgent need at that moment.

Before you begin your meditation, you will find yourself imploring or begging with your whole heart and your whole being for the gift of Knowledge or Understanding. Counsel or Fortitude, or the gift that you feel you need on this particular day when everything seems so crucial in your life. The remaining gifts of Wisdom, Piety and Fear of the Lord, it seems to me, follow the constant use of the other four gifts.

As you become more and more accustomed to seeking and using these gifts, you will find yourself relying and depending on them rather than on the opinions of men,. Meditating and listening to the Holy Spirit on a regular basis will give you the opportunity to follow His promptings from minute to minute, day to day, so that your everyday needs will be fulfilled.

Demand His Gifts

As you grow in the Holy Spirit, instead of imploring and begging, you will find yourself becoming more demanding of these gifts promised to you.

Your demands and dependence on these gifts is one of the greatest acts of faith you probably will ever be asked to profess.

Spirit Always with You

At the time of the Last Supper, when our Lord was leaving His Apostles to return to the Father, He made many powerful promises. One of them, told to the Apostles and to you and me, His followers as Christians, was this: "I ask the Father and He will give you another Advocate to dwell with you forever, the Spirit of truth . . . He will dwell with you, and be in you."

This is our Lord's promise. Why then don't you open your heart to the Holy Spirit and let Him in? If you do, He will enrich you completely satisfy every one of your needs as He blesses you with His Seven Special Gifts.

  • His gift of Wisdom that enables you to know how to use all of His gifts in their proper proportions;
  • His gift of Understanding that enlightens you so that you will not be confused;
  • His gift of Knowledge that enables you to see as God sees, to the extent that He wants you to see at a particular moment;
  • His gift of Counsel that enables you to know how to listen and act upon His promptings and His inspiration;
  • His gift of Fortitude that gives you strength to do what you must;
  • His gift of Piety that enables you to love being in the presence of God;
  • His gift of Fear of the Lord that enables you to love the Lord so much you fear not doing His will.

Follow His Promptings

After being enlightened or receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit that you asked for, you become an Apostle of the Holy Spirit by proceeding to carry out what you now presume you are to do. You will know you are doing His will because you will feel His presence in your heart and you will be filled with His rewards: love, joy, peace or any of the other twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit.

While neglect of the Holy Spirit results in spiritual blindness and lack of holiness, attention to Him can bring peace and comfort and love beyond description.

When I concentrate on the Holy Spirit in my heart for a long period of time. I become united with Him. He talks to me and guides me to the point where I experience a peace, a comfort and a joy that can only be described as a kind of ecstasy. There are times when I listen so intently, I lose all contact with the world around me - furniture, people, objects. And the Holy Spirit does talk to me. I am not referring here to words I can hear with my ears, but promptings that fill my heart and penetrate my entire being.

Listening to the Holy Spirit can become for you, just as it has for me, a source of comfort, a source of great peace and a source of answers to present problems. Listening to Him is to me the highest form of prayer.

Train to Listen

While it is possible in an instant to experience being born again, like Saint Paul, others find that the experience can come after being prayed over or after weeks of conscious effort by using the method I am suggesting here.

Usually, all of this give and take, this interaction, this communication with the Holy Spirit is not something that develops overnight. Like every good friendship, this relationship also must be nurtured, cultivated, and developed over a lifetime of loving commitment.

Let me give you an example that centers around a hobby of mine - listening to and collecting clocks. Through the years my favorite has been the pendulum clock, since it produces a much louder tick. I have listened to the pendulum clock for so many years that it is possible for me to listen to one I have never before heard or seen and, within seven or eight seconds, tell you that the clock will stop in another fifteen or twenty minutes. In about fifteen seconds I can balance the clock by simply listening to its tick-tock.

It is possible to take a balanced pendulum clock and unbalance it ever so slightly. The untrained ear cannot detect the difference. To the trained ear, however, the difference in the sound of the tick-tock in the unbalanced position becomes annoying.

In much the same manner as listening to clocks, listening to the Holy Spirit requires a trained sense of listening. And that training takes time. With the Holy Spirit, as with the clocks, the distinction is between listening and hearing, between the untrained ear and the trained ear.

Which Is More Important?

As a businessman, I know that anything I can do within my business to improve it produces profitable results. The extra time spent is always worth every bit of extra effort devoted to making that change. But "what does it profit a man if he gain the whole world, but suffer the loss of his own soul?"

Aren't our lives here and in eternity worth more than any business? Our Lord, who died to prove that they were, told us that we were more important than the birds of the sky, or the lilies of the field, or the ninety-nine sheep who did not go astray. We are so important that He knows us each by name from eternity! So important that He said He would not leave us orphans, but would send the Holy Spirit to be our Comforter and Companion!

Isn't it about time now to get in touch with this Comforter and Companion? Then when anyone ask you, as Saint Paul once asked some followers of Jesus Christ, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?" your answer can be a resounding, unqualified "YES!"

Nihil obstat:
Edward J. Gratsch
February 13, 1997

Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel,
Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of Cincinnati
February 19, 1997

The Nihl obstat and Imprimatur are declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free from doctrinalor moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted the Nihil obstat and Imprimatur agree with the contents, opinions or statements expressed.