Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Come Holy Spirit!

One of the Sisters told me she heard there was a web site sponsored by a group of atheists where you could click a link to deny the Holy Spirit. Right off I said, "why would atheists bother to deny the Holy Spirit?" If you don't believe, I would think indifference would be evident. It takes some energy and caring to actively go to a website and so on. My secondary reaction was something akin to horror. I just don't know why you would mess with the Holy Spirit. Of course I realize people do things to shock and in my years of ministry I've seen and heard a lot of sad and shocking things. But, fooling with The Holy Spirit seems like biting the hand that feeds you.

Of course I'm coming from a very Catholic background and perspective. I believe in God, I believe the Holy Spirit is one of the three persons of God, God active in the world today, God active in my life today . In my experience the Holy Spirit has been a constant presence always there to lead and guide me. When things we're tough I've found myself praying to the Holy Spirit.

How does this work in actual practice?
First of all I pray everyday that the Holy Spirit guide me and that I pay attention to that guidance. Then whatever the situation, event or interaction, I try to respond from that part of myself most in touch with God. This can mean anything from a simple smile or a listening ear to engaging in serious dialogue with others. There are some days, for sure when I do a poor job of being in tune with God the Holy Spirit! Some days I very consciously ask the Holy Spirit to be with me especially when I need to meet with someone and discuss something important to them or us. In the various ministries in which I've been involved, teacher, youth minister, social worker, formation director and now General Councilor for my community, while I depend on my background, education and training I trust that what I say and do is shaped and refined by the Holy Spirit.

I haven't done any empirical testing of the efficacy of the Holy Spirit's acting in my life. For one thing I'm not willing to try life without the Holy Spirit in order to do a comparison study!

This is St. Paul's take on measuring the effectiveness of the Spirit's presence.

the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Galatians 5:22,23

Here's what the founder of my community, Fr. Thomas A. Judge, CM
had to say about the Holy Spirit,

Whatever we see of calm, of loveliness,
whatever beauty there is,
it is all of the Holy Spirit.
O, we want beauty of soul,
we want harmony of mind, we want peace of spirit;
that must come from the Holy Spirit.

Actually he said a lot more about the Holy Spirit but that's one of my favorites. Another favorite is this prayer of Augustine

Breath into me Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Move in me, Holy Spirit, that my work too, may be holy.
Attract my heart, Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy.
Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy.
Protect me, Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy.

Happy Pentecost!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Being a witness!

Today is the feast if the Ascension of the Lord. In today's Gospel we hear the incredible trust Jesus placed upon his disciples and upon us too!

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things. Lk 24:46-53

Being a witness of these things in my daily life may be some what different than the first disciples at first glance. They went joyfully into Jerusalem with great joy and were continually in the temple praising God. When the Holy Spirit came they really let loose.

Some one did tell me I was a joyful sister today and I do spend quite a bit of time praising God in Church and out. Coming from my part of the world, a rather Catholic ghetto in Boston, MA, we're not too comfortable with going around preaching and praising God. Exposure to other cultures has opened me up some to be more outward in expression. But I can talk all I want, yell in the streets that Jesus is Lord (unlikely) write in a blog of my belief in Jesus and in His teachings, it means nothing if I treat the four sisters I live with poorly. It's an every day commitment to be that witness of the things of the Lord Jesus in all the small ways and in the big ways.
In the face of all the violence and sorrow in our world, the deceit in high places and the disappointments in our lives it's tempting at times to think why bother? Well certainly because God bothered and the disciples and saints of the past bothered. And the disciples and the saints of today still bother. I came across a quote of Dorothy Day,
"people say, 'What good can one person do? What is the sense of our small effort?' They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time; we can be responsible only for the one action of the present moment. but we can beg for an increase of love in our hearts that will vitalize and transform all our individual actions, and know that God will take them and multiply them, as Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes."
So I hope to take my steps, do my actions trusting in God's taking them and doing with them what He will.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Be Fire!

Be Fire! was the theme of a general asssembly of our community. The theme speaks to me of the Love of God. Love of God as in Jesus giving his life on the Cross for us, the love of God found in the gifts of the Holy Spirit that push you to be more and to do more than you would ever do of your own power. I set up this blog as a way of sharing follow up from our assembly. But -- Getting into it was a bit of a challenge for some of our sisters so now it's mine all mine!
Barbara Mc