“With His Grace, the Holy Spirit makes the soul virtuous; with the Gifts, He makes it heroic.” (Don Dolindo Ruotolo)
Differing from our natural talents, strengths and affinities, the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit render the soul docile to Grace so as to function ‘in a holy way on a higher plane’ in our everyday life because, rather than it being our natural inclination, our actions are driven by the Holy Spirit. Each gift illuminates the Divine for the soul, but is limited to the willingness of the soul to live out the virtues. This preparation, how one lives their life, must come first. Until then, the Gifts of the baptized, confirmed Christian are inactive. What a waste of Grace! Just think if all confirmed Catholics chose one small way every day of acting with prudence and humility: the 7 Gifts asleep in their soul would begin to awake, rustle, and impact our world. It all starts with us; never underestimate the power of 1 heroic soul–yours!
In Holy Week we were given much to ponder, including Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. Jesus knew it would happen, and still loved him anyway. For us, however, whether betrayed directly and expectedly, or blindsided by the unexpected, it is difficult for us to see the potential worthiness in the act. We seek to forgive others for our own relief, but we need to be transformed in order to love them. Are we prepared to be disposed to God’s re-creating Grace moment by moment? We might shout YES assuming that Grace is packaged in a soft fuzzy moment. But more often the Grace is delivered through a trial, just as transforming coal into diamonds is a process.
We are told at the end of time there will be a sort of trial in the Judgement Day: the chaff will be separated from the wheat (Mt 3:12). In the interim, our current times of trial serve as a type of ‘test run’, showing us which we are becoming: the chaff or the wheat. With the pandemic shutdowns and worldwide economic crisis, we have been given a tremendous opportunity for a ‘pre-test’. We have been cut almost completely from our old lifestyle. This includes suffering the loss of daily sacraments and rightly-ordered fellowship. This also includes cutting the bonds that tie us to our earthly attachments, none of which have true importance. For most, it left us feeling as if we have been freefalling without grounding.
The question is: in that freefall, have I been grasping onto the chord of Fidelity or struggling to grasp onto as many of my old attachments as I can wiggle onto my 10 fingers and 10 toes?
On the Annunciation of Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, the angel Gabriel stayed with Mary long enough to ensure she understood everything he had said. Then he left. She had made a commitment that she couldn’t truly understand as a mere human, and then in a moment she was left alone to go forward living it.
How often have I too felt alone on the journey?
Ash Wednesday is already upon us! Lent is a season of restoration. That may sound odd, because we all know it is a time of atonement. But what is the goal of atonement? The restoration of God’s love within us that has been blocked or kicked out by our errant ways. If we think of Lent in this way, it gives the fuller purpose to our practices of giving up what is bad or unnecessary and taking on new healthy ways of living and thinking.
The question begs…what does God desire to restore?
‘When he comes home from work, he checks in, then ‘checks out’ (porn, Internet, TV, marijuana/alcohol)’
‘She’s always clamoring at me…clinging to me…wanting something of me…wanting me to change’
Any psychotherapist or pastor worth his salt will tell you that in relational troubles, you must first stop thinking about how the other person must change. Every troubled relationship has two people dwelling on the other person.