May 31, 2020
Last week, some friends surprised me with a wonderful gift. It was truly a morale booster that helped me to deal with the “quarantine fatigue” that many of us are feeling these days. They prepared a basket filled with many different treats, most produced in their own gourmet kitchen. The presentation was so beautiful that I hated to undo the bright red ribbon and begin to unpack. As it turned out, that was a big part of the joy I felt from the gift. Every item I removed brought fresh delight, but I think that the best part of this gift was the invitation that accompanied it.
What filled my kitchen counter was all the prepared components for a very special meal. I needed only to “heat and eat!” But I didn’t have to eat by myself for a change. My friends suggested that we have a virtual dinner party with the three of us enjoying the same sumptuous banquet at the same time, as if we were sitting at the same dining room table together. So, at the agreed time, my cell phone rang, alerting me that there was an incoming “Facetime” call. I accepted the call and was instantly transported into their home…and they into mine.
We began catching up, and, within a matter of minutes, the visit no longer felt “virtual.” Our conversation…the table fellowship…closed the distance and made the experience REAL. When we finally got around to eating, the dinner tasted as good as it looked and smelled. We spent about 2-1/2 hours together, and, as with every successful dinner party with good friends, we hated to see the evening end (at least I did). But, my cell phone battery sent the signal that it was on low power mode. We reluctantly said good-bye!
It was a very thoughtful and generous gift that I thoroughly enjoyed as we shared it together. The memory of the gesture, as well as the evening we spent together, has lingered with me. Finally, it occurred to me that there was one final surprise…a surprise that I discovered only after a few days of reflecting on this memorable evening. In addition to the remarkably good food and great company, my friends had given me a perfect image of Pentecost.
Appreciating that our “spiritual selves” are in isolation, distanced from “The Kingdom” as we dwell in this world, and concerned that we are better able to manage “quarantine fatigue,” God, through the Holy Spirit, has sent each of us the most incredible gift basket.
The presentation is extraordinarily beautiful. The Holy Spirit has packaged seven priceless gifts within each and every one of us. If we take the time to remove and examine what has been placed within us, each of these gifts brings fresh delight. The “unpacking” is a big part of the joy of Pentecost.
It is critical to see, however, that these gifts are not given for us to enjoy by ourselves…in isolation. When we put them to use, they bring delight to everyone with whom we interact. Moreover, when we lay these gifts out, resolved to share them, we quickly discover they are the means to make our relationships with one another more intimate…more fruitful…life-giving!
But these seven powerful gifts do much more than help to make our earthly lives more pleasant…more bearable. These seven gifts are the means to transport us out of this reality into the Heavenly Banquet, where we sit at a table with and enjoy the fellowship of the angels and saints. When we try our best to live our lives “In The Holy Spirit,” we really and truly…not just “virtually”… are transported into The Kingdom of God, where there is an eternal celebration of love, life, peace, justice, and the fullness of joy.
In preparation for the feast of Pentecost, the faithful throughout the diocese and throughout the world have prayed a special Novena (9 days of prayer) to The Holy Spirit. The closing prayer enables us to unpack, examine, and develop an appreciation for each of the seven gifts that were presented to our Church on that first Pentecost. These are gifts that have been continually refreshed throughout the generations. This prayer is certainly not confined to one season of the liturgical year. It can be a most useful, daily reminder of what God has packaged within each and every one of us. LET US PRAY!
PRAYER OF THE SEVEN GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
O Lord Jesus Christ, before ascending into heaven, you promised to send the Holy Spirit to finish your work in the souls of your apostles and disciples.
Grant that I may be open to the work of that same Spirit within me.
Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may not be attached to the perishable things of this world but seek the things that are eternal.
Grant me the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of your divine truth.
Grant me the Spirit of Counsel (Right Judgment) that I may choose the surest way of pleasing God.
Grant me the Spirit of Fortitude (Courage) that I may bear my cross with you and that I may overcome all the obstacles that oppose my salvation.
Grant me the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself.
Grant me the Spirit of Piety (Reverence) that I may find the service of God sweet and attractive.
Grant me the Spirit of Fear of the Lord (Wonder and Awe) that I may be filled with loving reverence towards God and may avoid anything that would displease him.
Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of your true disciples and animate me in all things with your Spirit.