My dear graduates of Chaminade, Kellenberg Memorial, and St. Martin de Porres Marianist School,
The Holy Spirit shatters all our illusions of a domesticated faith!
I like my faith domesticated. Don’t you? If I follow the Commandments and practice the Beatitudes, if I adhere to the teachings of Jesus and the precepts of the Church, if I pray at set intervals throughout the day and attend Sunday Mass, then I’m doing everything I should. Right? If I live an orderly, upright life – and if I don’t rock the boat – then I have the kind of faith that might not make me a saint but that will surely get me into Heaven. What more do I really need?
“Everything,” I suspect the Holy Spirit might answer. For the Holy Spirit seeks not just to tidy up our lives, but to transform them. He’s less interested, I suspect, in taming our desires than in setting them free; letting them loose; turning them upside down so that we would desire God with our whole mind, our whole heart, and our whole soul. He wants us to live passionately for God, as if we were on fire.
Remember that video we showed you in high school every year, just before the feast of Pentecost? The twelve apostles are all gathered in a dark, shuttered room, when suddenly they hear what sounds like a powerful wind form Heaven, filling the entire house. Then, tongues of flame descend upon each of the twelve, and they join hands; dance in a large circle; and chant, “Hallel, Hallel,” “Halleluiah.” The video might have been a little corny, but it was certainly memorable, and it certainly got the point across: “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
Dancing and chanting, “Hallel, Hallel.” Now that’sthe work of the Spirit! What if our singing at Mass were that spirited!
Remember the years that Blessed Chaminade spent exiled from France in Saragossa, Spain, praying before the statue of Our Lady of the Pillar. It was there that Blessed Chaminade was inspired to found the Society of Mary. Years later, he told a gathering of new Marianists, “I saw you then as I see you now.” Now that’s the work of the Spirit! Whenever we allow God to change the course of our lives, whenever He emboldens us to embrace some enormous new undertaking, that’s the work of the Spirit.
All in. Totally committed! Willing to take on something big, bold, and dynamic for the sake of the Lord. That’sthe work of the Spirit.
“Totus Tuus” was Saint John Paul II’s apostolic motto. “Totally yours.” Now that’sthe work of the Spirit! Nothing half-hearted. Nothing tamed or domesticated. Totally yours!
In our own time, Pope Francis has repeatedly challenged the Church to listen to the promptings of the Sprit, so that we don’t end up like a neat and tidy “museum,” but instead resemble a “field hospital,” ready to care for those who have strayed from the Church; those who have lost any sense of meaning or direction in their lives; and those who, like all of us, have sinned. In language that is hardly tame or tidy, Pope Francis has told young Catholics, “I want to tell you something. . . . I want a mess. . . . I want to see the Church get closer to the people. I want to get rid of clericalism, the mundane, this closing ourselves off within ourselves, in our parishes, schools, or structures.”
Could we put up with “a mess” in our lives if it meant helping someone who is in need? Could we move beyond our comfort zones in order to make ourselves “totally Yours,” totally Christ’s? Do our lives look more like a museum – filled with things to admire and preserve – or more like a field hospital – ready to get a little dirty and endure perhaps no small degree of stress in order to help someone desperately in need?
Look, most of us like what is routine and predictable, neat and tidy, sensible and safe. I know I do! But maybe, just maybe, the Holy Spirit is calling us to set out in a different direction, on a different course of action. In this month when we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost and when many of us will attend the Confirmation of a friend or family member, we might ask ourselves where the Spirit is leading us.
“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
To consider these and other questions, the Province of Meribah is sponsoring, “Slain by the Spirit,” a College-Age Alumni Men’s Evening of Recollection. We will hold this Evening of Recollection on Pentecost Sunday, Sunday, May 20, at the Saragossa Retreat Center, 267 Marcellus Road, Mineola. The Evening of Recollection will run from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and will include the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for that day. This is the same day as the Open House for the new Dolan Family Science, Technology, and Research Center, so you can tour the new facility and then make your way over to Saragossa to discover what the Holy Spirit is doing in your life.
To register for “Slain by the Spirit,” follow the link below. We hope to see many of you there, open to the Spirit of God, which blows where it will!
On behalf of all my Marianist Brothers,