May 23, 2021
Franciscan theologian and author of numerous books and articles on spirituality, Fr. Richard Rohr, OSF, celebrated his 65th year of life by composing a special Litany to The Holy Spirit. His prayer consists of 65 names for, or images of, The Third Person of the Blessed Trinity. It is worth the effort to locate his podcast online and hear this amazing “word portrait” (that’s what it is…a vivid picture of what we cannot see but can definitely experience) from his own lips. (https://cac.org/litany-holy-spirit/)
He begins with images well-engrained within those of us who have made an effort to know and enjoy a relationship with The Holy Spirit.
Pure Gift of God
Promise of the Father
Interspersed with the Names/Images/Job descriptions that we would expect are surprisingly inventive titles that do not immediately connect with The Eternal Spirit.
The first time that I heard Fr. Rohr pray this Litany, I was shocked to hear the words:
Quite honestly, I stopped listening as he prayed on. Having been a practicing “defense attorney” for a good part of my adult life, I was totally thrown by the suggestion that on the first Pentecost, a DEFENSE ATTORNEY descended upon the Apostles and disciples. After all, lawyers are usually the target of rude jokes…or worse. It was almost shocking to hear the legal profession referred to as a “Godly activity,” elevated to an image of The Holy Spirit.
But as I reflected on the 7 Gifts that come to us with “Life in the Spirit,” the pieces began to fall into place. I came to appreciate why Fr. Rohr would envision the Spirit of God as a “defense attorney.”
A WISE lawyer has well-developed listening skills. To properly serve the interest of a client, a wise attorney listens attentively not only to the person they represent, but to the opposition, as well as to everyone else who might have information bearing on the matter in controversy. And, of course, it follows that it is the wise client who listens to the advice of their counsel.
UNDERSTANDING is key to successfully representing someone accused of an offense. The advocate must be able to sift out false allegations and exaggerations to find truth.
RIGHT JUDGMENT then enables a good defense attorney to plan a strategy which will ensure that truth prevails.
FORTITUDE is, basically, the courage to keep moving the case forward with determination, even when setbacks are encountered. It is dangerous to be overly confident or presumptuous. There is no such thing as a slam dunk case.
KNOWLEDGE of both the relevant facts, as well as the applicable law, are essential to compiling a winning defense.
A lawyer cannot officially begin to practice law until “sworn in.” The oath embodies a spirit of REVERENCE for justice and the judicial system. Admittedly, there are some who push the envelope and others who totally disregard the Canons of Ethics. But it has been my experience that the vast majority of attorneys appreciate the trust placed in them and adhere to a high standard of professional conduct.
Which brings us to the final “Pentecost Gift” …WONDER AND AWE. This is the overwhelming experience that comes from knowing that truth has prevailed.
But you don’t need to win a case in court to know that incredible feeling of WONDER AND AWE. It is an experience readily available to anyone who is wise enough to accept and put to good use the 7 amazing Gifts of The Holy Spirit. Regardless of our occupation or vocation, these gifts are intended to help us…each of us…to be all that we were created to be…images of Christ. These 7 gifts empower us to convince others about the justice of our case…The Gospel.
No matter who we are or what we do…when we take full advantage of these gifts, we help to change the face of the earth.
Try to put the pieces together in your own life.
Do you have the WISDOM to listen closely to where the Holy Spirit is guiding you?
Do you have the UNDERSTANDING that Truth is Christ and Christ is the Way to eternal life?
Are you easily distracted by the things of this world, or do you use RIGHT JUDGMENT when making important decisions?
Do you have the FORTITUDE to carry whatever cross is placed on your shoulder, confident that every Good Friday ends in Easter Sunday?
Do you seek KNOWLEDGE of God’s will and God’s ways?
Do you fully appreciate how important and powerful you are as a Baptized disciple and accept the responsibility with REVERENCE?
If the pieces fall together for you…then you have already experienced the WONDER AND AWE that comes from life in the Spirit. But if you haven’t quite made it there yet, ask yourself which gift you haven’t opened yet.