June 5, 2022
Beginning on Friday, May 27, and continuing for the next 9 days, many Christians around the world are praying a Novena to the Holy Spirit. Bishop Gruss encouraged the people of the Diocese of Saginaw to participate in this ancient spiritual exercise of our Church. We are praying for what were identified during the Patristics era of the Church (100 A.D.-450 A.D.) the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
I would suggest that we be cautious with the manner in which we think about these “gifts.” They are not like Easter eggs that need to be found. They are and always have been right in our very midst…open…abundant…and free for the taking.
These “gifts” are not like birthday presents that mark the passage of time and come only once a year. The Holy Spirit has these tools for the building of the Kingdom of God continually available.
Moreover, these “gifts” of the Holy Spirit are not like wedding gifts that are stored, wrapped in tissue paper, put away for safekeeping. They are intended to be used, and used frequently, to maintain unity and peace within our Church and our world.
Wisdom: If everyone would use the Gift of Wisdom when listening and reading, we could eliminate “fake news,” and, once and for all, TRUTH would prevail.
Understanding: How can we be authentic and effective Kingdom builders if we don’t at least make an effort to listen to, try to understand, and learn from other points of view?
Right Judgment (Counsel): When we look to The Gospel/The Word of the Lord and interpret it with the same tolerance, patience, inclusiveness, forgiveness, and love as Jesus spoke it to us, we are more likely to make good (at least better) decisions, avoid the sin of division, and live-in peace and harmony as God wills us to.
Courage (Fortitude): The first Christians courageously faced hungry lions. Today, we find ourselves thrown into the arena with roaring beasts such as prejudice, bigotry, anger, materialism, greed, and envy. More than ever, we need the Gift of Courage so that these things do not consume and devour us.
Knowledge: It is very, very dangerous to presume that we know what’s “right” without prayerfully consulting and reflecting on Sacred Scripture. Jesus identified Himself as “The Way.” It is a mark of spiritual and emotional intelligence to follow His directions…rather than charting our own course.
Reverence (Piety): This might well be one of those gifts we are tempted to put away for “safekeeping” rather than put into daily use. This “gift” enables us to see and love in one another what our Creator sees and loves in each of us. In order to be fully effective, we need to employ this gift while we are living in the “no judgment zone.” That’s not a place most people are inclined to pitch their tent. Still, once you get used to the climate there…it actually is a very pleasant place to live.
Wonder and Awe (Fear of the Lord): HOW GREAT THOU ART! Folks love that hymn. But would we sing it with such enthusiasm if we stopped to really reflect on what it means? If we genuinely Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made, how can we not commit to protecting our Earth and using its resources justly?
It really comes down to this: On the first Pentecost, The Holy Spirit infused our world with 7 extraordinary Gifts…given to us in abundance…continually renewed and intended to be used. If, in fact, we all accepted and employed these Gifts, then Jesus’s prayer to the Father would be fulfilled.
And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are. (John 17:11)