Monday 25 November 2013

Veni Sancte Spiritus

By Brother Dan Leckman, S.J.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love. —Roman Missal, Pentecost Sequence

As the first draft of my thesis paper is wrapping up this week, a big part of me is relieved that this will leave more room for my faith life. It’s funny how, as a student, I struggle to keep my faith vibrant. There have been some weeks when I was burning with zeal for God and others where I practically told God, “I’ll talk to you later, man: I got twelve pages to write this weekend about the New Evangelization!”

The irony is not lost on me that I sometimes compromise my prayer life in order to write about how to evangelize faith and justice in our world. I also understand that this compromise is almost inevitable – something I believe even Ignatius recognized. Amazingly enough I have still found consolation even in those moments of compromise. Perhaps that’s because, sometimes, the more distant we are from God the more God draws near to us.

This is precisely what I felt God was doing this week in my prayer but not in the way I would have expected the divine to work in my life. My prayer life revolves around conversations with Jesus; sometimes using scriptures, sometimes just as if I were speaking to a friend. However, this week I returned to another old friend, one I often neglect, who always rejuvenates me when I come back to: The Holy Spirit.

The Spirit is important to me for numerous reasons, but here are three:
  1. The Holy Spirit is my way of inserting a feminine image into the Trinity. I weary of people telling me, “We shouldn’t ascribe gender to God or the Trinity.” People have no problem with using the pronoun “He” when speaking about God. So, we use pronouns because they’re practical. So why not refer to the Spirit as the feminine? Well, I’m sure many people will have reasons why not to use it, but I’m quite content with this image for the time being.
  2. My paper deals a lot with the question, “How can we infuse the faithful with a new life and vigour?” I can come up with all sorts of intellectual and spiritual suggestions to achieve this but, in the end, any effort to evangelize is worthless if it does not centre on the Spirit. Just as any prayer that does not come from the Spirit working within us is empty. As The Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles at Pentecost, so She comes upon us every day, renewing our faith, strengthening our love for God and for all people, and guiding us along our way.
  3. In spite of all the work that the Spirit does in our lives, it is often neglected. We forget that prayer which flows from the heart out to the Father and the Son really is given life by the Spirit.
Perhaps the Spirit is neglected because we get too confident. We know most of what comes out of our mouth in prayer is from the Spirit. We don’t need to acknowledge it. But it’s not even about that. It’s about being conscious of what is going on within us on a daily basis. It’s about receiving the full magnitude of that strength the Spirit offers us … and allowing that awareness to plunge us even more deeply into prayer!

With that in mind, the next time you crack open your Bible to pray or you kneel down and talk to your “Papa” in heaven, open yourself to what the Spirit is doing within you. Allow her presence to fill your life and affect everything you do. Wow, that’s great advice. If only I could follow it now!

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