“Beloved: Although you have not seen Jesus Christ you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
(1 Pt 1)
The Great Fifty Days of the Easter Season lead us to Pentecost. What a comfort to know that in all that is happening in our church, state, country and world, the times, though they are a changin’, have the stability, the focus, the energy of a living God whose only desire is to save us and sanctify our daily living.
Growing up, going to St. John School in South Milwaukee, taught by the wonderful Racine Dominican Sisters and a lay staff that, through love, gave me a solid foundation in education and the faith, I realize more than ever the wonders of learning and sustained reflection that help me make it through an ordinary day.
As part of the rigors of a good education, we often had to memorize things. To be honest, we don’t do that enough in a culture that is fast-paced and rooted in instant gratification. I am a big fan of memorization. It keeps the mind energized, clear and crisp. After all, we do Sudoku and mind-benders, and I visit folks who love to do math problems to make sure they keep their minds alive.
I suggest, if you have not already done so, to memorize the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. Rooted in Scripture, they give us a focus so that the vagaries of crazy living and worrying can always be seen against that backdrop of a loving God who wants to be with us in everything and asks us to trust that the Holy Spirit, if memory serves us correctly, can move us along to living hopefully – even in the midst of fearful changes. So here they are:
The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Awe of the Lord
The Twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit
The distinction between a gift and fruit is easy: Once we realize we have the gift, the effects of the gift begin to flow as well. Once we celebrate that Holy Spirit given to us at baptism and sustained and nurtured through prayer and Scripture and sacrament, life gets better, because having remembered the gift, we can see the effects. We can, in a word, be happy, even though we live in uncertain times and sometimes suffer.
Just repeating our memorized lists can fill us with a presence that comforts and reminds us that though things are tough at times, nothing, underline nothing, can “separate us from the love of God found in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We can also be reminded that faith can be the driving force and the direction we take in all things, not just when we are in church, but especially when we live in the up and down journey of life. Faith can have measurable and remarkable effects in our daily experiences.
Once memorized, and experienced, then we can begin to learn more about the gifts and fruits. Perhaps a simple, practical meditation for someone in the work-a-day world, busy with job, school, children, would be to take one of the gifts or fruits, and focus on it for the entire day, maybe Googling it to get more background, and then praying about it, asking the Holy Spirit to fill us with God’s presence, to give us the gifts and help us to realize the fruits in our daily lives.
Maybe we need to print out the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, put them on our medicine cabinet mirror or in our car or on our refrigerator – anywhere that will help us in the middle of the craziness – to remember that God is present whether we ask or are aware, but that when we do take the time to remember, life becomes sweeter, knowing the Presence is with us, until the end of time! (When that is remains a surprise!)