Pentecost, for Christians, is when we celebrate the Holy Spirit coming down upon the Apostles – it is also referred to as the birthday of the Church. Like Fr. Finnigan said at the vigil Mass, the Holy Spirit animates (gives life to) the Church as the soul animates the body. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ and so the Holy Spirit animates us as members of that Body. But… how animated are we? We receive the gift of the Holy Spirit at baptism, as well as Confirmation for Catholics – but then what do we do with this gift? “Holy Spirit? Oh, yeah, it’s in the back closet under my old yearbooks, behind the Thighmaster . I never really found a use for it, it’s just kind of in the way.”
As an atheist, I certainly didn’t have a use for the Spirit – but the Spirit always knew what to do with me. In those days, when I thought that I was opening my mind, I was actually closing it off to the fullness of reality. When I thought that I was more free to be truly myself, I was actually becoming an even more crippled version of myself, no longer firing on all cylinders: body, mind, heart, and soul. Then, one day, I was silent and still enough to listen… to hear… and then brave enough to accept that which we call God – infinite, eternal, Present Presence, undeniable and unshakable. Two gifts of the Holy Spirit were at work in me, unsolicited: Courage and Fear of (awe in the presence of) the Lord.
Sure, I don’t have the Holy Spirit in the back closet anymore – but can I really say that I am letting the Spirit light me up, burning like a fire in me? “Piety”, another gift of the Holy Spirit, isn’t somber gravity or some placid holier-than-thou isolation – it’s fully animated life. Active and restless in striving for and doing the will of God, a real pious person is, most importantly, JOYFUL. In fact, the Scripture reference to the gift of piety (Isaiah 11:3) speaks of delight. Not because the person is Pollyanna or too ignorant or unfeeling or selfishly pleasured to see sorrow, but because the pious person loves (really, not sappily) his or her fellow humans, loves life, loves the Source of Life, and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, loves living life as it is meant to be lived – and that delight is the deepest, truest joy.
“The time to hesitate is through
No time to wallow in the mire…
Come on baby light my fire…”
© 2014 Christina Chase
All Rights Reserved
song excerpt from The Doors “Come on Baby Light My Fire “