Wednesday November 20, 2019
7:46 am
Bishop Hying

Holy Spirit is the fire, energy and inspiring force of God in our lives

As published in the Northwest Indiana Catholic on May 15, 2016   

     

      As we celebrate the glorious feast of Pentecost this weekend, we give thanks and praise to God for the gift of the Holy Spirit! Jesus promises to send another Advocate, the Paraclete, the Consoler, to continue the mission of salvation, to breathe wisdom, energy and holiness over the early Church, to teach the fullness of Jesus to the people until the end of time. As the living and eternal fruit of the love between the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit is perpetually generated and active in the Church and the world.

      I always like to think of the Holy Spirit as the fire, energy and inspiring force of God who gets things done. In Genesis, the Spirit breathes over the waters of creation, stirs up the hearts and words of the prophets, overshadows the Virgin Mary when she conceives Jesus and anoints the Lord at his baptism.  Christ breathes the Holy Spirit on his apostles the night of Easter and sends the fullness of the Advocate on the morning of Pentecost. We believe the Holy Spirit inspired the authors of the Scriptures to write the Word of God, and we invoke the Third Person of the Trinity in every celebration of every sacrament. Just as your smart phone is of no use if the battery is dead, so too our faith, good works and proclamation of the Gospel are fruitless unless the Spirit breathes life into us.

      Various obstacles can get in the way of our faith. Fear of rejection or the opinion of others can keep us silent when we should be witnessing to the love of Christ. Laziness or tepidness sometimes prevents us from being zealous, ardent and sacrificial in the love of God and neighbor. Anger at God, resentments towards others or deep hurts from the past can build a wall that blocks us off from grace and leaves us in a lonely place. 

      Maybe somebody in the Church hurt or rejected us in the past. Being too busy with everything else can blind us to the absolute priority that God should hold in our lives.

      We could define all of these challenges as spiritual artery blockages or hard-heartedness. Just as a person with serious obstructions in the arteries of the heart needs emergency surgery to place stents in the closed places and open up the flow of blood and life, so too, we Christians need the Divine Physician – Jesus - to perform heart surgery on us. 

      When we open ourselves to the power of the Holy Spirit, through prayer and sacrament, the fire and grace of God can break down all of the walls, fear, anger and laziness that keep us from dynamically growing towards discipleship and sainthood.

      Before they received the power of the Holy Spirit, those first followers of Jesus were confused, silent about their experience of the Resurrection, fearful, divided and not sure what to do next. In an instant, the fiery Spirit of God burned away all of their doubt and torpor, sending them out, first into Jerusalem and then later the whole world, to bear witness to the Good News. 

      Once they had drunk of the Spirit, they never looked back, gladly spending the rest of their lives  extending the mission of Jesus Christ and courageously dying for their faith. The Holy Spirit is to the soul what breath is to the body. Without the Paraclete, we are spiritually dead.

      My deepest prayer this year is that every member of the Diocese of Gary will intensively and regularly  pray to the Holy Spirit, asking for the Divine Fire to burn away all of the obstacles, difficulties and divisions that prevent us from fully living our Catholic faith; to melt any hard-heartedness, to open the blocked arteries. 

      As we prepare for the diocesan synod, as we face the challenges of fewer priests and the need for parish planning, as we look at our political, economic and sociological challenges which seem enormous at times, we profoundly need the courage, passion, joy and generosity that the first disciples of Jesus and thousands of saints since have lived so effectively. 

      We must petition the Lord to pour out the fruits of the Holy Spirit on our diocese, parishes, schools, families, children, workplaces, communities, prisons, hospitals, on our priests, religious, deacons, lay ecclesial ministers, catechists and your bishop (boy, do I need it!). 

      Soon, you will be receiving the official prayer card for the Synod, you will be seeing the synod poster in the church vestibule. Articles are now in your bulletin and videos are posted online invite you to study, pray and prepare for the parish synod sessions, which will occur in October.

      The synod is much more than a planning process or a big meeting. It is an experience of the Holy Spirit, who will lead us to a fresh and new Pentecost, sending us forth to witness to the power and love of the Lord Jesus! 

      All for Christ!  All in the Holy Spirit!  All glory to the Father!

    

+ Donald J. Hying

 

follow Bishop Hying at twitter.com/bishophying

 

For more information on the 2017 diocesan synod and Bishop Hying’s pastoral letter, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,” go to dcgary.org/synod.htm.

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