The Readings for the 14th Friday, Tempus per Annum
Do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.Matthew 10:19-20
AS OUR CLASS WAS wrapping up the Book of Acts, our professor, Dr Wendy Biale, noted that the Holy Spirit seems like a very real presence to the Apostles. He tells them things, he sends dreams, he gives instructions. In his book, You Can Understand the Bible, which we used in class, Peter Kreeft gives a list of things (in sum):
- The spirit is her personally, directly, and concretely as a person.
- Miracles are done so powerfully through Paul that even his handkerchiefs are an agency for healing.
- Demonic activity appears and exorcism is needed.
- Confession, repentance, and turning away from sin or clear and strong.
- The faith is so strong that the unbelievers are offended.
- Worship is such a joy that long church services are common.
- Christians are ready to die as martyrs.
- The good news is preached as a historical fact not just as values.
- The faith is not politicized: all powers are subject to Christ.
- The church is bold, brave, and even brazon.
- Prophecy abounds.
- Angels interact with humans, not as myths or symbols but as real persons.
- Though very tiny the church is Infamous. They have turned the world upside down
Compare this to where we are today.
In the movie Xanadu a muse comes to earth to inspire an artist to live his dream. She gives ideas, moves things around, makes connections… for him. It’s like magic. But she falls in love with her artist and so must become mortal. And thus give up her power to inspire. Yet in her love she becomes so much more for the artist.
It’s a very shallow parallel, but I think it’s a better parallel for the Holy Spirit than “the Force” from Star Wars. God really does love us like that. God really does inspire us like that. God really does move into our lives like that. Jesus seems to assume we will have an ongoing part in this conversation: all of us. Not just clergy, not just monastics, but all of us, in all walks of our life.
The Church assumes this as well.
¶2558 “Great is the mystery of the faith!” The Church professes this mystery in the Apostles’ Creed and celebrates it in the sacramental liturgy, so that the life of the faithful may be conformed to Christ in the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father. This mystery, then, requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer.
This mystery then…
Requires that the faithful believe in it, this means that we must assent to it and that we must act in our lives according to the reality it describes. If we only assent to it, with no action in our lives, faith with out works is dead.
...that they celebrate it that is liturgically, and even in the calendar on the feasts of the Church. We’re called to ritually partake in the actions of God.
that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. an ongoing relationship… not something that we pull out on Sundays or when we need it for help here and there, but continually. You don’t wake up one day and pretend you’re not married. Your spouse is always with you, bone of your bone, flesh of your flesh. Forever. God is closer and even closer still. Why are you not talking to him now?
This relationship is prayer. Please note that while some devotions can be prayers, prayer is not devotions. While some liturgy can be done in prayer, prayer is not the liturgy.
Prayer is the relationship itself.
So, possibly, the reason that we don’t move in the world of the Apostles is not because things have changed, but because we have changed. The reason we do not feel the presence all the time is that we have no relationship to speak of.