The Holy Spirit

   The Holy Spirit inspires the prophets, the poets and the artists. Animating the whole of creation and pouring grace into our hearts, the Holy Spirit gives life and love. The Holy Spirit makes it possible for creatures to become aware of God.
   The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and radiates Christ bestowing new life, the awareness of God presence that deifies us. With His all-pervading presence the Spirit manifests the Son, and makes us aware of the Son's presence. By the Spirit's love and through the Son, we are brought to know the Father.
   The Holy Spirit revealed Christ even before the Incarnation by inspiring the prophets. The Holy Spirit's mission is to sanctify, to make holy, to make us seek perfection, and to deify us by uniting us to Christ and by dwelling in us as our supernatural life.
   The Holy Spirit is a fire which refreshes the human heart and opens it to the sensibility of the presence of the Father and of the Son. The gift of hope is granted to us by sharing in the life of the Holy Spirit.

Ilustrator: Paul G. YesavageGod Made manifest in Love

   All of God's work is well planned and well managed. The Greek word for God's "plan of redemption" is economia. The Holy Trinity desires that all creation, and most especially human creatures, to mirror the majesty and unity within the Godhead.
   The Father chooses and accepts us as His own. St. Paul writes to the Ephesians: "Praised be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has bestowed on us in Christ every spiritual blessing in the heavens! God chose us in Him before the world began, to be holy and blameless in His sight, to be full of love; He likewise predestined us through Christ Jesus to be His adopted sons ~ such was His will and pleasure ~ that all might praise the glorious favor He has bestowed on us in His beloved" (1: 3-6).
   God the Son, as the perfect Image of the Father, identifies Himself with us in His Incarnation and Resurrection so that we may return to the Father. "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you really knew Me, you would know My Father also" (Jn 14: 6-7).
   The Holy Spirit gives us the life of the Trinity and deifies us by imparting to us the life and knowledge of Jesus Christ. "The body is one and has many members, but all the members, many though they are, are one body; and so it is with Christ. It is in one Spirit that all of us, whether Jew or Greek, slave or free, were baptized into one body" (1Cor 12: 12-13).
   God is present in as many dimensions as exist in the life of humans. God makes Himself present in our marvelous cosmos, in the human word in the Sacred Scriptures, in our most intimate being through grace and when we gather in His body, the Church. God is active in every aspect of our lives. The divine economy is ever-radiant and life-giving.

With Open Hands

   In a small beautiful country there lived an elderly man who looked back on his life with deep peace and joy. He loved well and was well loved in return. He faced hardships and challenges, raised a large family, served his country in the armed forces, and took an active part in his church and community.
   The man had an overpowering love for his land. He believed that God blessed his land with special beauty and it was the pleasure and treasure of his life. So strong was his conviction that when the man was dying, he asked his sons to carry him outside so that he might die looking at his land. The sons honored the wishes of their father because they loved him dearly and the man died clutching some of the soil of his land.
   Coming before Christ for judgment, the man heard the words we all wish to hear someday: "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the Kingdom." He was walking toward the Kingdom when Christ noticed his tightly clutched fist. "What is that?" Christ asked. "This is my land" the man replied with great pride. "This is my most precious treasure. I will never let go of this."
   Christ's face betrayed His sadness as He said: "But only those with openness ~ open hands, open minds and open hearts ~ can enter into the Kingdom. The man was resolute ~ he would not release his treasure. And so he was left standing outside the Kingdom holding on to the soil of his land.
   Some time passed and the man's best friend died. The friend came to plead with the man to let go of his land and enter the Kingdom. "The Kingdom is far no wonderful than we ever imagined" the friend pleaded. "Remember all those afternoons when we sat drinking coffee in the sidewalk cafe and wondered what the Kingdom was like? Well, we were not even close! It is far more wonderful than that. Let go of this and come!"
   The man stood firm. And he stood there, outside the Kingdom, for so long that eventually all the moisture was gone from the land. He needed to stand with one hand under the other catching the dust of his land. What the man thought he possessed; really possessed him.
   Before we judge this man too harshly, we must reflect on when this happens in our own lives. What is it that I hang on to? What possesses me, while all the while I think I possess it? Perhaps I hang on to my opinion about something as if it is the only valid or correct opinion. Perhaps I hang on to my unforgiveness of another, refusing to forgive or be open to any goodness in another. Perhaps I cling tenaciously to my education, or beauty, or youth, or my bank account. What is it that I hang on to at all cost?
   After a long time, the man's grandson entered the Kingdom. The young lad came to his grandfather and said: "Grandpa, take my hand and come with me."
   Finally, the man opened his hand, looked at the remaining dust in his hand and slowing stretch out his hand to the welcoming hand of his grandson. The scriptures say a little child shall lead us (Is 11: 6).
   "Come," the little lad said excitedly. Slowly the man entered into the Kingdom. Do you know what to his total amazement he found there? His land! His land ~ far more beautiful and far more wonderful than he remembered. Only those things that we are willing to let go of, to be free of; are truly ours.
We must prepare for the Kingdom of God now by living today with open hands and open hearts.

Grandma's Lap

   Grandma told a story of a man who took a trip to a strange land. He took a donkey, a rooster and a lamp. He asked hospitality from the people of a small village, but was refused because he was poor and rather odd looking.
   The man decided to sleep in the woods nearby the town. He lit his lamp to study the holy books before going to sleep, but a fierce wind came up, knocking over the lamp and breaking it. The man decided to turn in, saying: "All that God does, God does well." During the night some wild animals came along and drove away the rooster and the thieves stole the donkey. When the man awoke, he saw the loss, but still proclaimed easily: "All that God does, God does well."
   The man then went back to the village where he was refused lodging, only to learn that enemy soldiers had invaded it during the night and killed all the inhabitants.
   He learned later that these soldiers had traveled through the same part of the woods where he lay asleep. Had his lamp not been broken, he would have been discovered. Had not the rooster been chased, it would have crowed, giving him away. Had not the donkey been stolen, it may have brayed. So once more the man declared: "All that God does, God does well."

The Holy Spirit is light and life, a living fountain of all spiritual reality; He is the essence of wisdom, the Spirit of knowledge; He is goodness and understanding, leader to the vision of God. He cleanses from sin; He is divine and makes us so; He is fire proceeding from fire; His word is action and distribution of gifts. Through Him God witnesses and the prophets and apostles were crowned. Oh! How marvelous is this truth of the Holy Spirit! Oh! How marvelous is His work!

from the Vespers of Pentecost

Ilustrator: Paul G. Yesavage

Holy, Holy, Holy...

   The Divine Liturgy celebrates the New Covenant our God has made with us in Jesus Christ. It is our entry into the mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ, of His physical glorification in the heavens and of His Second Coming which we await.
   The divine plan of salvation in Christ is the central celebration of each Divine Liturgy. We remember in the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom: "all that was done for us: the cross, the tomb, the resurrection on the third day, the ascension into heaven, the sitting at the right hand, and the second and glorious coming." There is only one theme for the liturgy: the mystery of God's saving work in Jesus Christ.
   The only offering we as humans can offer to God is the self-offering of Christ, because in it all thanksgiving, all remembrance, all offering ~ that is, the whole of our lives and of our world ~ were fulfilled. What we offer ~ our food, our life, ourselves and the whole world ~ we offer in Christ and as Christ because He Himself has assumed our life and is our life. This offering of ourselves in Christ summarizes all our faith and gives us new reasons for hope and love.
   We offered the bread and wine in remembrance of Christ because we know that Christ is Life. Then when we receive this bread and wine, now His own Body and Blood from His hands, we know that He has taken up all life, filled it with Himself, made it what it was meant to be: communion with God, sacrament of His presence and love.
   This bread is a Body which is "broken;" this wine is Blood which is "shed." Our liturgy, like the Lord's Supper in the Upper Room, is an invitation to participate, as fully as we are able, in the immolation of our Lord's Body and the outpouring of His Blood. We are called to offer ourselves, to allow ourselves to be broken, and our life to be "poured out." The Holy Eucharist is a mystery of love; and the Gospel tells us that there is no greater love than to give our life for those we love.

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