Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A New Life in the Holy Spirit

During this week, Christians remem- ber the original "novena"--the nine days when the disciples of Jesus gathered in the upper room with Mary and prayed for the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. We recall in these days the birth of the Church in all the fullness that Christ intended her to possess.

We are also urged to recall that as Christians each of us has received the gift of the Spirit, and the vocation to bear witness to Christ as members of His Body, the Church. We ask for a deeper outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Holy Spirit dwells in us and is at work in us.

How often do we hear these words and find only a vague significance in them?

Oh yes, the Holy Spirit. That's important. Why? Because the Church says so. On to the next "thing."

Wait. Stop.

It is very easy to think of Christianity as a bunch of stuff we have to do (or not do), because God and the Church say so, and then try to negotiate and integrate this rather burdensome collection of stuff into our lives. This week is a good time for me to ask myself: "Is this how I live my faith? Is this how I present it to others?"

The rest of the world often views Christianity as a collection of external rules that more or less interfere with real life, that is, with the part of life that interests and engages me as a person. What a grim business! No wonder people are not attracted to it.

I must beware that I do not allow this kind of moralism to become my own view of Christianity. I must remember that Christianity is a new life, a supernatural life, a life of communion with God. Through baptism, I have been given a participation in the Divine life, and through grace this life grows within me and transforms me. God gives Himself to me; He draws me into a personal relationship with Himself; He leads me to my destiny which is to share forever in His glory, to behold and to love forever the One who is the fullness of all goodness, to belong to Him forever.

Eternal glory has already begun, secretly, in the very heart of this ordinary life, because God dwells in me, and God is at work in my life. But why am I so dull and unaware? Because I need the light of the Holy Spirit to recognize the path He has laid out before me. Christianity is not external to the real concerns of my life. It illuminates them and opens me up to their true meaning. But this only happens if I live the relationship with God that He continually desires to deepen throughout my life.

And how can I live and grow in a relationship with Eternal Love except by asking for Him to change me, asking for Him to empower me to love Him more, asking Him to enable me to see the Church as the instrument of His love, and her teachings as the road of love that really corresponds to my life? I want Him to "come" into my life, deepen my relationship with Him, and make me more aware of His presence. This is why I must ask, continually, for the gift of the Holy Spirit to be renewed within me. This is why my whole heart has to be a living, loving, begging prayer for God's grace.

Come Holy Spirit.
Come Holy Spirit.
Come Holy Spirit.

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