Friday, November 6, 2009

Living on the Holy Spirit

On September 12, 2009 our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, ordained five new Bishops in St. Peter’s Basilica. Recently I was reading the homily that he gave on the occasion and found it to be a wonderful reflection upon the ministry of Bishops, and by extension, the ministry of priests. We who are priests are co-workers with the Bishops, and so what is said of the ministry of Bishops in many ways can also apply to the ministry of priests, and sometimes, it even carries over to the lives of all God’s people, to all who in virtue of their Baptism are part of the priesthood of all believers (which, I might add, is essentially different than the ministerial priesthood). That being the case, I thought it might be good to share some quotations from the Holy Father’s homily and make some comments on it. The Holy Father said:

"The man consecrated must be filled with and live on the Spirit of God."

In Baptism, you and I were consecrated to God. And as the Holy Father says, those who are consecrated must be filled with the Spirit of God. We must live on His Holy Spirit. I think we can all agree that this is a nice statement that rings true, but more than just being a nice statement, it is a challenge for our lives. This short sentence makes me a few question of myself. Am I filled with the Spirit of God? How do I know if I am filled with the Spirit of God? Do I live on the Spirit of God?

Jesus said that we would know a tree by its fruit. We also read in St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians that the “fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” We know that we are filled with the Holy Spirit to the extent that these fruits are active in our lives. I can only speak for myself, and when I look at that list and compare it to my life . . . well . . . I think I need to spend a little more time opening myself to the Holy Spirit in prayer.

Pope Benedict also says that we must “live on the Spirit of God.” In other words, the Spirit of God must be what sustains us. It must we what makes us strong. Again, I look at my life and see so much weakness, so many times where I fall, so many times that I do not persevere. Could it be that I am not living on the Holy Spirit? Could it be that I am living on things which do not strengthen me. Could it be that I am living on spiritual junk food? Could it be that I am not taking the time to receive the food that will strengthen me (The Holy Spirit) in prayer? Another challenge – another place to grow in my call as someone consecrated to God in Baptism and, in my case, in Ordination.

It’s amazing that just one sentence from the Holy Father can lead us to reflect upon our situations and challenge us to grow. We will continue with the Holy Father’s homily soon. Until then, let us pray for one another.

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