Monday, May 18, 2015

Fr. Brooms Blog

It was a laborious and strenuous two years of Confirmation teaching.  I had the teen boys, a group I really worked hard to prepare them for the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Right around the corner awaited the Bishop to confirm my little flock. Knowing that often the Bishop would ask spontaneous questions to the candidates, I wanted to make sure that my boys at least knew enough on the Person of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, as a teacher, I could be in trouble!

Therefore, in one of the last classes I launched the all-important question to my prospect confirmandi:  “Who is the Holy Spirit?” This question met with a resounding and penetrating silence in my ears! Thinking that possibly they were distracted I pitched out the question the second time: “Who is the Holy Spirit?” To my chagrin, the question was met with the same terrifying silence! Well, I thought, maybe they did not hear me properly, so I decided to beg the question a third and final time: “Who is the Holy Spirit?”  One boy, seeming to be camouflaged in the back seats of the classroom, opened up his mouth and said clearly and bluntly: THE BIRD!!!

To my relief, I rested a bit more in peace, at least one of them articulated one of the most eloquent and known symbols of the Holy Spirit—not so much “The Bird”, but the Dove. But at least he was close; at least in the ballpark!

In Ephesus Saint Paul once launched the same question: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit.”  Their response was a little bit worse than my Confirmation students:  “We did not so much as know that there is a Holy Spirit.”(Acts 19:1-9)

For many the Holy Spirit is the forgotten member of the most Holy Trinity. We pray to the Father, at least the Our Father; the Son Jesus, we read the Gospels and know Jesus at least partially, but how many of us know of the Holy Spirit, much less pray to Him and have devotion to Him? I imagine very few across the board! Indeed, He is the forgotten Person of the Blessed Trinity.

This being the case how can we know, love and cultivate a deep friendship with the Holy Spirit, who is so important because the Holy Spirit is God; He is the third Person of the most Blessed Trinity. Countless are ways that we can grow deeper in our relationship with the Holy Spirit, but we would like to mention just a few, three will suffice!

1.    LEARN ABOUT HIM. Two sources I would suggest! First, read and meditate attentively the ACTS OF THE APOSTLES. A fascinating book attributed to Saint Luke is one of the best action books of the New Testament. But also it is known as the Gospel of the Holy Spirit. The reason for this is that there are so many references to the action of the Holy Spirit throughout the whole inspired text. As you read underline texts and passages that mention the Holy Spirit and note His manner of proceeding and talk to Him as an intimate Friend. Then read the spiritual masterpiece of the modern author Jacques Philippe:  “The School of the Holy Spirit.” The essence of holiness is to learn to be docile to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit.

2.    FRIENDSHIP WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT.  Get in the habit of talking frequently to the Holy Spirit. You can pray a formal prayer or hymn to the Holy Spirit or talk to Him in your own words. Note also your relationship to the Blessed Trinity. God the Father is your “Dad”; In Hebrew He is known as “Abba”—meaning “Daddy”. Jesus is your older Brother. What an honor to have Jesus as your elder brother starting at the moment of Baptism. Then who exactly is the Holy Spirit for you?  To be theologically exact the Holy Spirit is your BEST FRIEND.  How consoling this truth. In concrete this means that you are never alone;  you do not have to experience a crushing loneliness so characteristic of the modern world. In any time and place you can stop and talk to this loving Friend who you can discover in the very depths of your heart, the very depths of your soul—of course, if you are in the state of sanctifying grace.

3.    DOCILITY TO THE HOLY SPIRIT.   The Holy Spirit is the best of Friends, but at the same time He is the most demanding of Friends. This means that the Holy Spirit will inspire you often with heavenly touches that are called inspirations. At times the Holy Spirit will move you against the grain, go against your will, and even nudge you in the direction of the cross. Do not resist His heavenly beckonings!  An interesting story is related by the famous and highly respected modern writer Jacques Philippe in his literary masterpiece “The School of the Holy Spirit”.  In essence this is the account. Fr Jacques returns home from a retreat and exhausted, with the only desire to retire to his room and rest for the night. However, something happens. Within Father Jacques he hears the gentle bit insistent invitation to do something small but important for God. What to do? The inspiration was to not to go to his room immediately; rather, the Holy Spirit as nudging him to go to the chapel and to make a short visit to Jesus present in the most Blessed Sacrament. After possibly a bit of resistance Fr. Jacques capitulated and pays Jesus a short but fervent visit before retiring to his room. Consequently he retires, falls asleep and gets up the next day with consolation and ready to start afresh new apostolic initiatives. Question? What most likely would have happened if Fr. Jacques were to have resisted the invitation? I think we all know what would have happened to us! Getting to sleep would have been close to impossible, tossing and turning all night with our conscience pricking away at us; due to the lack of sleep cranky and irritable the whole day! What do you think?  In sum, our attitude and response should be that of the young Samuel in the Temple: “Speak O Lord for your servant is listening.”   We must be docile, open and responsive to Our Best Friend—the Holy Spirit.

Finally, a closing note of paramount importance! Draw close to Our Lady and she will draw you close to the Holy Spirit. Our Lady is the Daughter of God the Father, the Mother of God the Son, but she is also the Mystical Spouse of the Holy Spirit.  For this important reason Saint Louis de Montfort asserts forcefully: “Those who love Mary, the Holy Spirit flings Himself into their souls.”  If we desire a New Pentecost in our lives and a divine invasion and outpouring of the Holy Spirit, then the key is a true, filial and loving devotion to Mary. Let us pray this short but fervent prayer: “Come Holy Spirit come through the Heart of Mary.”

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