Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

The Spirit Works in Green Time

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Green is the liturgy’s color for ordinary time. Not white, the bright light of Eastertime, or red the color of blood and fire. or purple the color of penance. Green is earth’s color, color of slow growing trees and grasses, of ordinary time.

An unknown 4th century spiritual writer describes the ordinary ways the Holy Spirit works in us. “In varied and different ways” invisible grace leads us. Ordinary time doesn’t mean that every day’s the same.  Sometimes we find ourselves sad at the state of things; sometimes we joyfully hold the whole world in our arms. Sometimes we feel helpless; sometimes we think there’s nothing we can’t do. Sometimes we’re brave; sometimes we escape into the supposed safety of ourselves looking for peace.

“… The soul becomes like any other human being.” Which means, I guess, that we don’t feel spiritual at all.

Far from taking us away from the human condition, the Spirit leads us by human steps in human time. Ordinary time is the natural roller-coaster of life, all right, but the Spirit leads us on.

That’s why the psalms are such wonderful prayers. They’re the great prayers of ordinary time. They take us from one human experience to another. If you don’t experience what a certain psalm describes, wait awhile–you will.

Green is the Season

Green is the season after Pentecost.
The Holy Ghost in an abstracted place
spreads out the languid summer of His peace,
unrolls His hot July.
O leaves of love, O chlorophyll of grace.
Native to all is this contemplative summer.
The soul that finds its way through Pentecost
knows this green solitude at once as homeland.
Only the heart, earth held and time engrossed,
dazed by this unforeknown and blossoming nowhere,
troubles itself with adjectives like “lost.”

Jessica Powers, 1954

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Welcome to Ordinary Time

Creation
The Easter season ends with the Feast of Pentecost and we’re into ordinary time in the church year. Unlike other feasts, Pentecost has no octave; ordinary time is its octave. Most of the church year is ordinary time; most of life is ordinary too, but the Spirit is there just the same.

“Their message goes out to all the earth.” We read the Acts of the Apostles during the Easter season as Jesus’ apostles, led by Peter and Paul, ventured on their way from Jerusalem to Asia Minor and to Rome, empowered by strong winds and tongues of fire, Yes, the Spirit can bring us to the ends of the earth, but the Spirit is also there in the few steps we take every day, though we’re hardly aware.

We tend to minimize ordinary life. Just ordinary, nothing’s happening, we say. Yet, day by day in ordinary time the Risen Lord offers his peace and shows us his wounds. Every day he breathes the Spirit on us. No day goes by without the Spirit’s quiet blessing.

 

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Pentecost

 

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Water and the Spirit

In the easter season the Risen Christ comes to us in signs and sacraments. The Sacrament of the Eucharist is one of his signs. But  let’s not forget the Sacrament of Baptism, another gift we receive from the Risen Lord. He blesses us in water.

Water is a twofold sign of death and of life, says Saint Basil the Great.

“Like a tomb, the water receives the body, symbolizing death; while the Spirit pours in the quickening power, renewing our souls from the deadness of sin into their original life. This then is what it is to be born again of water and of the Spirit, the water bringing the necessary death while the Spirit creates life within us…

“ Through the Holy Spirit comes our restoration to paradise, our ascension into the kingdom of heaven, our return to the status of adopted sons, our liberty to call God our Father, our being made partakers of the grace of Christ, our being called children of light, our sharing in eternal glory – in a word, our being brought into a state of all fullness of blessing both in this world and in the world to come, of all the good gifts that are in store for us. Through faith we behold the reflection of their grace as though they were already present, but we still have to wait for the full enjoyment of them. If such is the promise, what will the perfection be like? If these are the first fruits, what will be the complete fulfillment?”

Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit

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Paul’s Conversion

 

The dramatic conversion of Paul is recalled in today’s  first reading at Mass from the Acts of the Apostles. Luke describes this event three times, acknowledging Paul’s special  role in the spread of the church from Jerusalem to Rome.

Yet, Luke sees Paul’s conversion and ministry as a work of God, who uses the apostle for his own divine purposes. It’s not Paul’s genius or imagination that achieved so much. God’s grace brought him to the ground on his way to Damascus and sent him on his mission.

“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”  Jesus says to him. Their meeting caused Paul to be convinced that faith is a gift that justifies us and that the church is the body of Christ. He did not come to those beliefs on his own.

Paul’s great conversion story in Acts introduces a succession of stories recalling the conversion of the gentiles. Though Paul has a prominent part in these stories, he is still an agent whom God sends and constantly empowers.

The Acts of the Apostles is not just a description of the past;  it’s a template for the church of every age. Personalities like Paul and human factors play a part in her growth, but the church’s advance is not principally through human power, reason, or imagination. The power of God’s Spirit guides and supports it through time.

We need to pray and welcome it.

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Morning Thoughts: Don’t Look At Me

 

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“The Denial of Saint Peter”, ca 1610, Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi) (Italian, Milan or Caravaggio 1571-1610 Porto Ercole) (The Met)

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Never look to a man for answers.

Look to Christ who is the answer.

If you insist on looking to a man, then choose one who points to Christ.

For the best teacher is Christ Himself…and His best assistants are those who clearly say: “Don’t look at me.”


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—Howard Hain

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http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/437986

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Friday Thoughts: Just Up At Dawn

 

utagawa-hiroshige-titmouse-and-camellias-right-sparrow-and-wild-roses-center-and-black-naped-oriole-and-cherry-blossoms-left-ca-1833

Utagawa Hiroshige, “Titmouse and Camellias (right), Sparrow and Wild Roses (center), and Black-naped Oriole and Cherry Blossoms (left)”, ca. 1833

 

Lord, You are good.

Truly Good.

You are a great promise.

You are as good as Your Word.

You set free and You restore.

You truly make all things new.

I have seen great deeds.

Only Your hand can accomplish.

Within spaces.

So big and so small.

I have seen you in the sky and in the bird.

I have heard You cry and felt You shake.

I feel Your smile.

This very moment.

Good morning, Father.

You are so very good.

You are God.

And You alone.

Thank You for teaching me.

For showing me how to be free.

By asking only one thing.

Each and every moment.

What is Your will?

I need know nothing more.

I need not see, nor hear, nor feel, nor sense anything else.

I need not understand, nor remember, nor plan.

I need not desire nor will more than Your will itself.

I am.

Here.

To know.

To love.

To serve.

You.

And You alone.

That is Your will.

Your will is You.

One and the same.

Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

Holy Mother Church.

Holy Angels.

Holy Saints.

Cloud of Witnesses.

Help me, Lord God.

Maker of Heaven and Earth.

To love You more and more each day.

In all Your creation.

Every bit of Your handiwork.

All for Your sake.

Simple. Clear. Honest. Pure.

A sparrow just up at dawn.

Tweet…tweet…tweet…

I hear Your will knocking at my door.


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—Howard Hain

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http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/56918

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