SEEK nothing for yourself.
SEEK nothing for yourself.
YESTERDAY’s liturgy marks the end of Pentecost week–but not the profound necessity in our lives of the Holy Spirit and His spouse, the Virgin Mary.
It has been my personal experience, having traveled to hundreds of parishes, meeting tens of thousands of people–that souls who open themselves to the activity of the Holy Spirit, coupled with a healthy devotion to Mary, are some of the strongest apostles I know.
And why should this surprise anyone? Wasn’t it this combination of heaven and earth over 20 centuries ago, that wrought the incarnation of God in the flesh, Jesus Christ?
That is the way Jesus is always conceived. That is the way He is reproduced in souls… Two artisans must concur in the work that is at once God’s masterpiece and humanity’s supreme product: the Holy Spirit and the most holy Virgin Mary… for they are the only ones who can reproduce Christ. –Archbishop Luis M. Martinez, The Sanctifier
WHEN Pope John Paul II revived the Rosary in 2003, it was not out of a sense of nostalgia.
He was calling the Church to arms, to take up the spiritual and material battle raging within and from without the Church. He was urging us to call upon the greatest of intercessors–Jesus’ Mother–to come to our assistance. As one priest said, “Mary is a lady… but she wears combat boots.” Indeed, in Genesis, it is her heel which will crush the serpent’s head.
The grave challenges confronting the world at the start of this new Millennium lead us to think that only an intervention from on high… can give reason to hope for a brighter future…. The Church has always attributed particular efficacy to this prayer, entrusting to the Rosary… the most difficult problems. At times when Christianity itself seemed under threat, its deliverance was attributed to the power of this prayer, and Our Lady of the Rosary was acclaimed as the one whose intercession brought salvation. –John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae; 40, 39
IF you are not praying the Rosary yet, it is time.
Confidently take up the Rosary once again… May this appeal of mine not go unheard! –John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae
AFTER Evening Prayer, Fr. Kyle and I were discussing the necessity of the prophetic gift for the building up of the Church. As we were talking, a storm passed overhead and a bolt of lightning lit up the sky. Immediately, it carried a message for us:
“Prophecy is like lightning. God sends his word into the darkness, and at once it illuminates the heart and mind. Horizons and perspectives which had faded are recovered, paths which were hidden are found, and dangers which lay ahead are exposed.”
one who prophesies [speaks] to human beings, for their building up, encouragement, and solace.— 1 Cor 14:3
THE EUCHARIST is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” (Catechism, 1324)
Then it could be said that everything in between–the steps leading up this Blessed Mountain–are the charisms of the Holy Spirit, with “prophecy” being the handrails.
Prophecy “means the foreknowledge of future events, though it may sometimes apply to past events of which there is no memory, and to present hidden things which cannot be known by the natural light of reason.” (Catholic Encyclopedia).
Pursue love, but strive eagerly for the spiritual gifts, above all that you may prophesy.(1 Cor 14:1)
For a deeper understanding of the gift of prophecy, click here.
WE PRAY “Come Holy Spirit!” So when the Spirit comes, what does it look like?
The icon of this coming is the Upper Room: an infusion of grace, power, authority, wisdom, prudence, counsel, knowledge, understanding, fortitude and fear of the Lord.
But we see something else as well… something the Church has often failed to recognize: the release of charisms in the Body. The Greek word Paul used for charism means “favor” or “benefit.” These include the gifts of healing, speaking in tongues, prophecy, discernment of spirits, administration, mighty deeds, and interpretation of tongues among others.
Let us be clear: these are charismatic gifts–not “the Charismatic’s gifts”. They do not belong to a single group or movement within the Church, but belong in proper to the whole Christian community. Too often, we have sent the gifts into the church basement where they are safely hidden in the confines of the prayer meeting of a few.
What great loss this is to the community! What paralysis this has brought about in the Church! These charisms, Paul tells us, are for the building up of the Body (cf. 1 Cor 12, 14:12). If that is so, tell me, what happens when the human body stops moving on a hospital bed? The person’s muscles become atrophied–limp, weak, and powerless.
So too, our failure to appropriate the charisms of the Holy Spirit has led to a Church which has fallen asleep on its side, unable to turn over and show the face of Christ to a hurting world. Our parishes have atrophied; our youth have lost interest; and those gifts intended to build us up remain hidden beneath the dust of our Baptism.
Indeed, Come Holy Spirit–come and re-enkindle in us your seven-fold gifts and bountiful charisms, for the glory of God, the renewal of the Church, and the conversion of the world.
Whatever their character–sometimes it is extraordinary, such as the gift of miracles or of tongues–charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church. –Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2003
MANY people say they have a personal relationship with Jesus. Others speak about their relationship with the Father. This is wonderful.
But how many of us have a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit?
The Third Person of the Holy Trinity is just that–a divine person. A person whom Jesus has sent to be our Helper, our Advocate. A person who loves us with a burning love–like a tongue of fire. We can even “grieve the Holy Spirit” (Eph 4:30) because of this ineffable love.
But as we enter into the great feast of Pentecost, let us bring great joy to this intimate Friend. Let us begin to speak with the Holy Spirit, heart to Heart, lover to Lover, opening our spirit to Spirit, knowing that because of the Father’s love, because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we now live, move, and have our being in this most Holy, Divine, and wonderful person: the Paraclete–who is Love itself.
the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
FEAST OF THE VISITATION
While pregnant with Jesus, Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth. Upon Mary’s greeting, Scripture retells that the child within Elizabeth’s womb–John the Baptist–"leaped for joy".
John sensed Jesus.
How can we read this passage and fail to recognize the life and presence of a human person within the womb? This day, my heart has been weighed with the sorrow of abortion in North America. And the words, "You reap what you sow" have been playing through my mind.
THE flesh is lazy and idolatrous. But half the battle is recognizing this, and the other half then, is not fixating on it.
It is the Spirit who puts to death the deeds of the flesh (Rom 8:13)–not self-centered bemoaning. Fixing our eyes on Jesus in a gaze of trust, especially when we’re weighed down by personal sin, is precisely the means by which the Spirit conquers the flesh.
Humility is a gateway for God.
The image of this is the thief on the cross. He hung by the weight of his sinful flesh. But his eyes were fixed on Christ… And thus, Jesus–whose gaze was fixed on him in extraordinary love and mercy said, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Even though we may hang by the weight of our failures, we need only turn to Jesus in a glance of humility and honesty, and we will be assured to hear the same.