Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

A little old soul

He was an old soul that I had never seen before. His hair was as dark as coal, and his eyes drew you in. He walked slowly but with purpose. His deep red vestments made him look like a king. When I first saw him, I thought, “Now, that’s how you wear red!” My mother-in-law commented on the gorgeous roses that covered the altar. They were beautiful, but my focus was elsewhere.

Today is the Feast of Pentecost. The day our Church was founded. The day when the Holy Spirit, the Consoler, the Advocate, the Unifier, came into the lives of the Apostles like a roaring wind and flames of fire. This huddled group of fear-filled men and the Blessed Mother received the very Love of God the Father and God the Son in the form of the Holy Spirit. It changed them forever.

As the incense rose from the altar, my thoughts rose to Heaven. The swirls of incense were very visible today, and seemed to move wherever they wished. This reminded me that God’s tremendous gift of the Holy Spirit with His many gifts and graces was washing over the entire Earth today. My heart was open and ready to receive. I prayed deeply for my entire family, for my friends, for my community and for our world.

That’s when this old soul, the priest I had never seen before, began to sing in Latin the Veni Sancti Spiritu or Come Holy Spirit. He humbly sat, pulled the microphone down to his level, and began to sing. His voice is a pure gift from God. It was so awe-inspiring that you could hear a pin drop once he started. When I heard this beauty, I closed my eyes and thought, “Now, that’s how you sing!”

His homily was an amazing story about Blessed John Henry Newman. About 150 years ago, he had traveled to Rome and was heading back to England by ship. His heart was heavy because he had come to believe that the Catholic Church was the one true church, but accepting this truth meant many losses for him. He felt stuck, and then the ship got stuck. The wind just stopped altogether. For an entire week, his ship was stuck on the sea outside the port of Rome, yet not on its way to England either. He realized that God was perhaps allowing this to show him the state of his soul. Newman could do nothing to change his heart or his physical situation. It was up to the “wind” or the Holy Spirit to come into his life and help him move towards the truth. And the wind did arrive, pushing Newman towards a major change for his entire life.

We all must pray for the Holy Spirit to give us the same courage and love that He gave Blessed John Henry Newman and the Apostles. May our hearts burn with this love and give it freely just as we have received it freely.  We will see that God does make all things new.  Won’t you pray with me?

Come Holy Spirit,
fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.
And You shall renew the face of the earth.

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Whoosh, Heat, and Whisper

Sometimes, the Holy Spirit arrives like a whoosh that moves through you from head to toe. Other times, He’s like a radiating heat the moves outward from the inside. And yet, there are times when He is just a small whisper that you must be very still and listening to hear.

At my daughter’s Confirmation in the Basilica, the whoosh arrived as the entrance hymn began. I almost had to sit down. The whoosh often makes tears begin to fall from my eyes which is very humbling for me. I have spoken about my gift of tears in prior blogs. It is not something I would ever choose. But it is a gift and I do accept it now.

When I visited my niece at the hospital, she told me that as I was praying over her and blessing her with St. Jude oil, she could feel a heat radiating from me. It was real and tangible for her and I knew it was simply the Holy Spirit.

This week, I had the honor of sponsoring my friend’s daughter for Confirmation. I expected the whoosh, but it didn’t come. I waited for the radiating heat, but it wasn’t there. It was when my friend’s daughter kneeled in front of me to receive the Holy Eucharist on her tongue from the Archbishop who said, “Body of Christ” and she whispered “Amen” that the Holy Spirit made Himself known to me. What an amazing gift to receive the Eucharist and the indwelling of the Holy Trinity. I felt so unworthy to receive, but I, too, whispered, “Amen.”

 

 

 

The Book Whisperer

I’ve been praying for God to show me those areas of my life where I am blind to my own sin, and boy has He decided I’m ready. Yesterday, a friend handed me a couple of boxes full of books that she no longer will be using. She explained that she had tried to sell them, but for a whole host of reasons, they never were sold. As she explained all the shenanigans (is that a word?) she went through to sell the books but to no avail, she then realized and knew that they were supposed to be given away. She is someone who listens to the Holy Spirit, but also must get banged over the head like me sometimes to listen. So, she saw me and felt compelled to hand all these books over to me.

I have to admit books are my weakness. I know the whole world is in love with e-books and kindle and nook, but me, I like a book in my hands. I like the whole experience–carting it with you places, marking it up, deciding not to mark it up because it is just too good, picking which books to keep on your low shelf or high shelf. If you saw my bedside table, and you like orderliness, you might fall over dead. I have the active book pile, the intermittent book pile, and the near-future book pile. In the active pile, I have many books because I can read three books at one time. The intermittent pile is for when the content is just too much to process or I am not ready for it, so I read a little and then I sit the book aside. The near-future pile are the books I have ordered because they just sounded so great and I want to read them, but I must finish the three I am currently reading.

Okay, so God talks to me through books quite often. Some blog, I will have to share the story of how a book changed my life. But for now, suffice it to say, in that pile of books I found a book I needed to read. I started it right away (preempting all piles on my bedside table) because it was written for young men entering adulthood. I thought to myself, “That’s my son!” I started glancing through it and got hooked. Why? Because the author uses real life examples and his advice is so wise. It is very different from any other book for young men that I have ever seen or heard about. I am about halfway through it, but I realized that some of his advice was for me. As he explains why a person should handle themselves a certain way, I realized that I don’t do that well or at all. I saw so clearly where I am weak, that it became hard to read. I don’t know how to explain this well but it is a bit like watching a train wreck that you are part of?!  I felt thrilled that my son could read such wonderful advice and appalled because I really have some voids in a lot of these specific areas.

So, as you can tell, this was quite a “ride” reading this book. Before panic took over me, I realized that this is why God brought my husband and I together! I started thinking about my glaring weaknesses, and realized that my husband is strong in almost all of them. Seriously! It’s like God saw me as I am really am and said, “She needs some help in these areas.” Meanwhile, God saw my husband and said, “He needs some help in these other areas.” Together, we are a pretty good team, as long as we stay centered on God.

Hopefully, this weekend I will finish reading the book and pass it on to my son. Then, he will have his Dad’s example to help him through those weaknesses of mine. How blessed we are to have each other!

 

What Happens When the Easter Bunny Forgets His Job

I knew our family had changed when I awoke early on Easter morning and realized that the Easter bunny had not come. Our family was so focused on the real meaning of Easter on Holy Saturday that even the Easter bunny forgot to do his job. As I crept past my youngest who had found her way onto the couch, trying not to wake her, I realized what an amazing change this was for all of us. On the counter was my youngest daughter’s favorite plastic bunny with a note hanging around its neck that read: “Dear Easter bunny, Wishing you the blessings and joy of Easter!”

As I frantically put together baskets as quietly and quickly  as I could, praying all the while to my youngest’ guardian angel to keep her sleeping while I did my duty, I realized that while Easter bunnies are signs of Hope, my family understands that Jesus Christ is the real Hope. By the time the family dog heard my scrambling and woke my daughter, the Easter bunny had safely delivered his baskets once again.

Fast forward to today. I think my son had it right. I told him this morning that he has soccer practice tonight. His response was, “On Easter Monday?” Because we celebrate the Season of Easter in our family, we take Easter week off. Yes, you read that correctly. Easter is not just Easter Sunday. It actually is a season that lasts 50 days. My son asked, “Why would they schedule practice during Easter Week? That doesn’t seem right.” Let me be clear, he loves to play soccer and never grumbles about practice. My response, “No one knows or they don’t care. But we do, so we have to both celebrate and offer up these crosses for them.”

Many Christians I know don’t even realize Easter is a season. They ask me, “Why 50 days?” Well, there’s this really important thing that we celebrate on day 50. It’s called Pentecost. That’s 9 days after the Ascension which is another celebration during the Easter Season. Of course, the Blessed Mother and the Apostles prayed for 9 days to prepare for Pentecost. That would be the first Novena! And the Pentecost is the founding of the Church. So, we have Easter Sunday, the day of our Lord’s Resurrection, followed by Divine Mercy Sunday, then the Ascension and it all culminates in Pentecost when the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was so immense that a group of fearful, tentative followers began to share the Good News so profoundly that it changed our world forever!

If you have never celebrated the Easter Season, I suggest you find some resources about these next few weeks and learn more about how to glorify our good God and to prepare for the Holy Spirit coming into your life on Pentecost. It may fundamentally change the way you and your family will celebrate Easter.

 

Holy Wood or Hollywood?

“Putting on Christ” changes everything. It changes the way we see other people, it changes the way we spend our day, it even changes the way we act! My son just finished his role as Jesus in the Passion of Christ. We had two requests for the children to bring the play to other groups. I found this a bit odd because our group is just a group of 14 children with very limited resources and no real acting experience.

However, an email arrived this morning that explained why there was so much interest. Our director, a professional actress who is on the national scene, explained that she learned a tremendous amount from our children. “Really?” I thought to myself. As she explained the details in her email, it all started making sense.

Apparently, there are two significant problems for professional actors: 1) Memorizing their lines and 2) Delivering those lines with sincerity that fits the character.  Our children did the “impossible” by conquering both of these quickly.

Our director spent some time explaining how modern acting has really moved away from Stanislavski who encouraged his students not to manipulate the scene but to find the truth of the scene and to be open to the truth each time that a scene is performed. If you and I go to most theatrical shows, we will see the actors manipulate the scene in a way to manipulate the audience.  As an audience member, we might not even realize that we are being manipulated, because some directors and actors are very good at this craft.  Also, if that is all we see as an audience member , we just accept that is how it is supposed to be.

Stanislavski did not know that when you put this discipline in practice that what you are in fact doing is opening yourself to The Truth and allowing the Holy Spirit to cooperate with it using the actor as an instrument.  I think this is what happened when our innocent acting troupe took their memorization and listening skills seriously. I also saw how many people wanted their photo taken with my son, “Jesus” after the play. They just wanted to share in the moment of Truth which we all had just experienced. What a blessing we had a Director who showed us the truth and beauty of the art of acting!

 

Changing Creative Ideas into Physical Reality

Tomorrow night is the big performance: The Passion of Christ. As we ran through the lights and sound this evening before our final dress rehearsal tomorrow morning, our director was commenting how much she enjoys this time of a production. All the creative thoughts and ideas finally becoming a concrete, physical reality. I agreed with her as I pricked my finger because I wanted just one more safety-pin to hold up the backdrop.

The backstage is something to behold. Giant crosses are resting against the walls. A mannequin’s head holds the Crown of Thorns, which stands next to the purple robe and burial cloth. Costumes hang in rows on coat racks, ranging from browns to greys to shimmering pink. Our backdrop is a rolling cube which allows us to easily change between 4 different backgrounds for the scenery. All of it is very simple but effective.

We have no idea who will show up for this production. Last semester, we set chairs for an audience of 50, and ended up adding another 30 chairs to accommodate the crowd. But that was a Friday night, and we had to go with Thursday evening this semester. We are all wondering if families will skip soccer practice or forget about it being a school night and turn their hearts to the story of the Passion? I’ll let you know how it goes, but for now, I guess I will rely on the Holy Spirit to fill our room. All for Jesus, Mary & Joseph!

I Found the Hidden Treasure

Remodeling is hard work! My son and I just finished ripping out most of our kitchen. We also pulled up carpeting in our front room. In my earlier post, “What Lies Hidden Beneath?” I was sharing that I was a bit afraid of what I might find underneath the carpeting. I found myself comparing the carpet removal process to our spiritual lives.

To recap:
Pristine carpeting yet full of dust = our souls  partially clean, partially murky
Carpet pad (with crumbling sections) = our hardness of heart/unforgiveness
Hardwood floor = beauty of ourselves (body and soul) made in God’s image
Staples (brittle, stuck deep) = sin that needs to be removed

So, we started working on the staple removal process. And let me tell you, it is S-L-O-W going! You cannot stand to do very much at a time because it overwhelms you. For every few staples we can easily remove, the next few break in half, right at the wood floor. Our knees and elbows hurt and are bruised (and we are even using knee pads!)

This was the most mentally demanding work of all because it was no fun and felt like progress was at a snail’s pace. This is much like getting rid of those long festering sins in our lives. When we finally decide to work on them, we think it will be easy. It is not. It can definitely be discouraging at first. Perseverance becomes a real word that means something more than you ever realized before in your life!

As you can imagine, my son and I were high-fiving each other when we pulled the last staple and swept up the final, horrible remains of the crumbling, chalk-like carpet pad. We were so proud of persevering and finishing the job. That’s when our friend arrived and pointed out to us that when they sand and refinish these hardwood floors, all those little holes from the staples will show right back up. We will have to use a special tool to tap the tiny staples that we could not extract back down into the wood. I suppose these small, unextractable “sins” are like what St. Paul refers to in 2 Corinthians 12 when he says, “Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”

But that’s not all! After tapping these down, we have to carefully find each single hole created by the staples or nails along the edges and fill them with a special filler. Aha! Now this is exciting and makes tremendous sense. I feel like I found the hidden treasure! It just came to me that once we are cleansed of sin, we must always remember to ask the Holy Spirit to fill those places we have emptied. I think St. Paul says it best: “I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.” I think we’ll keep that as our prayer in mind as we are on our knees slowing filling each little hole…