How to Be Sure You’re Being Led by the Holy Spirit…

Picture of by Matthew Leonard
by Matthew Leonard

Have you ever met someone who said they did something because they felt “led by the Spirit”?

Sometimes it ends in disaster.

(I’m pretty sure that guy who thought God told him to paint his body blue and illegally run across the football field at halftime shouting “Hail, Mary!” wasn’t really tuned into God’s channel. The Spirit apparently led him to jail.)

And yet there’s certainly a reality to being led by the Spirit. It’s what we should be doing every day.

After all, Christ did.

At his baptism, the Holy Spirit descended upon our Lord in the form of a dove. Then Matthew 4:1 tells us he was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” In other words, the Holy Spirit directed his actions.

And this is the example we’re all to follow. But how? How can we know we’re actually being led by the Spirit?

Well I’ve got one word for you…”Mary.”

Those of you who have been reading my posts or listening to my Art of Catholic podcast lately know we’ve been talking about how intimately Mary is united with the Holy Spirit.

In fact, St. Maximilian Kolbe makes an incredibly stunning statement that brings this mystery into sharp focus. Back in 1936, he declared that “the Holy Spirit and Mary are two persons who live in such intimate union that they live but one sole life.” Whoa!

That idea would have totally freaked me out when I was coming into the Church some twenty years ago.

Not anymore.

After all, we’re talking about the woman “overshadowed” (​episkiazo​ in Greek) by the Holy Spirit in the same manner the powerful Old Testament Ark of the Covenant. 

We’re talking about the one woman God chose to carry within her womb and give birth to his only Son. She’s the one woman who is the very Mother of God and Spouse of the Holy Spirit.

So while one is creature and the other is the Third Person of the Trinity, it’s virtually impossible to overestimate the depth of the relationship between Mary and the Holy Spirit. She literally conceived God in her womb because of Him!

Anyone who argues against the special relationship between Mary and the Holy Spirit simply isn’t being true to Scripture. That’s some of what Curtis Mitch and I spoke about in my last podcast on the Queenship of Mary in Revelation 12.

And because of their intimacy, Mary is the key to us being led by the Spirit.

The Wedding at Cana is a perfect example. The same Spirit that led him into the wilderness, worked through Mary in order to instruct him in his first miracle.

Why else would Christ perform his first miracle when his “hour has not yet come” (Jn 2:4)? He knew she was intimately united with the Spirit. He knew the Spirit was working through His Mother. So he listened and obeyed.

So did the servants.

After instructing her Son, she turns to them and says, “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). They immediately obey and so played an intimate role in a beautiful miracle.

And it’s the same with us.

If you want to be led by the Spirit, get close to Mary. Pray your rosary. Recite your litanies. Throw yourself into her maternal care and beg for her intercession.

And once you’re tuned into her voice and do what she says, you’ll be acting just like Jesus Christ. You’ll be led by the Spirit into the divine life of God.

God bless!


P.S. I’m heading back to Italy! Join me in March 2019 for an amazing pilgrimage to Rome, Assisi, Orvieto, LaVerna, and much, much more!

Check it out here!






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16 Responses

  1. Hi Matthew,
    I always love to read (and listen) to you teach about Mary. Today’s writing is very encouraging. It made me remember that all of us are called to be “Mary” – to allow the Holy Spirit to work in us as He wills. To bear the fruit(s) of this Holy Spirit in our dealings with each other. Actually (hopefully without taking you back to “being freaked out”), to partake of the divine nature by being likewise intimately united with the Holy Spirit!
    Thanks for being such an inspiration,


    1. You’re welcome, Pamela. Amen to everything you wrote and thanks for the encouragement. God bless you!

  2. Thanks Leo (my name sake), learnt more about mother Mary and her relationship with the holy trinity. I pray she always intercedes for us, especially in doing the will of God. . .

  3. Thanks Matthew for this great reminder of the role and the place of our lady in our relationship with the Holy Spirit. Often, people are confused, cannot discern when the it the spirit speaking or self. This piece is helpful.
    GOD bless you as you keep up the good work.


    1. Thank you, Lucy. God wants us to discern correctly. We just have to make sure we’re in a position to hear him.

  4. I understood the wonderful part of getting close to Mary in order to get closer to God! My mom was a fervent person praying the rosary everyday! In fact, before knowing my father, she was in a convent for 2 years in the Order of Fatima in Yauco, Puerto Rico with Mother Dominga. But, what should happen so you know that you are being led by the Spirit? Is it different or unique for each person? Sometimes I realize I had been led after the event or as hindsight to something that has occurred…
    But, sometimes I ask myself ” what should I do?”, when there’s a decision pending that can have strong repercussions in my life or my family? I would like to know beforehand not afterwards! Then I can prepare better. Does any of this make sense to you?

    1. Hi, Emily. There’s no “sure” way, so to speak. That said, the best way to make sure you’re being led by the Spirit is to ensure that you’re close to him. When my kids are outside playing, they can’t hear me calling them for dinner. They need to be close. It’s the same in the spiritual life. The Holy Spirit is always speaking to us, directing us. The question is whether or not we are in a position to hear him. How do you do that? The basics: sacraments and prayer…especially prayer (though they always go together). Prayer is nothing less than relationship with God. So build that relationship, and you’ll hear his voice. Also, don’t forget that God is your loving Father. As long as you’re seeking to do his will, he is always going to work good out of even our “bad” decisions. He’s not up in heaven simply waiting to punish you for a mistake. He always has our best interest at heart and will write straight with our crooked lines. God bless!

  5. Matthew,
    Thanks for this presentation on Mary. If you ever have a really bad day–or stretch–and the thought of giving up slithers into your mind, don’t you dare! Instead, reflect on the world of prayerful thought that you and John have opened up in the hearts of _____ people today (just try to guess what that number must be, and the number of those whom they’ll affect!). Wow!
    May I ask a favor? Can you and John, at some point, prayerfully explore the connection between the name Gabriel and the honorary title Gebirah? Are there any gems buried in there?
    Thank you,
    Lawrence McGowan

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Lawrence! I appreciate it greatly. (I’ll have to look into the Gabriel/Gebirah connection.) God bless!

    1. Hi, Karen. I’ve read some of his work, but have never listened to his conversion story. I’ll try and check it out sometime. (His father-in-law was one of my philosophy professors in graduate school:).

  6. The bible does not support your words. Mary was a vessel God used to bring Jesus to the earth. She was not sinless she was a virgin and found favor in God’s sight. Mary does not replace the Holy Spirit! or should mary be prayed to. To be led by the Holy Spirit comes out of having a intimate relationship with him only. To learn his voice. Mary has nothing to do with it.

    1. You’re obviously not going to understand the relationship between Mary and the Holy Spirit without first understanding who Mary is and how she was prepared by God for a special role. I would encourage you to open your mind and study what Christians have believed and taught about Our Lady for two thousand years. You can’t just say, “The Bible doesn’t support your words.” when all the Fathers of the Church say differently. You can’t just say, “The Bible doesn’t support your words.” when even Martin Luther – the founder of Protestantism – believed in Mary’s perpetual virginity and immaculate conception. Seriously, please really look into and discover that Mary plays a pivotal role in salvation history…not just in biblical times, but right now. And again, not because of anything she did on her own. She is not divine. But God made her for a special role. God bless you!

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