Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are without question GREAT GIFTS, necessary and important to be holy and pleasing to our Heavenly Father.  Each baptized Christian received the Holy Spirit, God's “first gift to those who believe.” (Eucharistic Prayer IV)  Although we cannot see the Holy Spirit, we can see what He does. The Divine Spirit guides the Church, is our advocate and makes us holy. The gifts of the Holy Spirit help us become stronger followers of Jesus, act as His disciples and share the good news about Jesus with others.
The Seven Gifts are called “gifts of the Holy Spirit” because the Holy Spirit gives them to us. Therefore they are supernatural gifts, working in a supernatural way in us. These are not gifts just for times of emergency, rather these are gifts that are present in us as long as we are in the state of grace (the soul is free of serious sin). The Seven Gifts assist us in living a life of holiness and virtue. They perfect the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity and the other infused virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance. These supernatural gifts give us a share in the very life and nature of God, help us be attentive and open to the Spirit and make us docile and obedient to His divine inspirations. The catechism identifies the seven gifts as wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.  (CCC 1830-31)
Through the sacraments of baptism and confirmation “we put on Christ,” and the sevenfold gifts of the Spirit become our gifts so that we may become signs of God's presence in the world.
Pope John Paul II said, "With gifts and qualities such as these  we are equal to any task and capable of overcoming any difficulties."

PRAYER FOR THE SEVEN GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT                                                                          
O Lord Jesus Christ, Who, before ascending into heaven, did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of Your Apostles and Disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me, to perfect in my soul the work of Your grace and Your love. Grant me...
The Spirit of Fear - that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may avoid anything that may displease Him.
The Spirit of Piety - that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable.
The Spirit of Fortitude - that I may bear my cross with You, and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation.
The Spirit of Counsel - that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven.
The Spirit of Knowledge - that I may know God and know myself, and grow perfect in the science of the Saints.
The Spirit of Understanding - to enlighten my mind with the light of Your divine truth.
The Spirit of Wisdom - that I may not be attached to the perishable things of this world, but aspire only after the things that are eternal.    
Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of Your true disciples, and animate me in all things with Your spirit. Amen.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother's Day & the Church

Today our nation takes an opportunity to celebrate our mothers. We put aside a day for Mother's Day. Mother's Day actually did not begin inAmerica, but it began a couple of millennia ago. It began by people coming back to the church where they were baptized. They recognized that the Church was their mother at the baptismal font. So the idea was that they would celebrate a day when they would all go back to their mother church. All the converts would be there together, the ones from over the years, in the place where they were baptized. They would celebrate their faith and life that they had learned and received in that church. It did not take much time for people to say, "If we are going to be able to celebrate the supernatural life that we have through Holy Mother Church, then it is also fitting that on this day we should visit our mothers (our natural mothers) from whom we have natural life. 

That is the way Mother's Day began. First of all, by recognizing the life given to us by God in Baptism and to acknowledge that we wouldn't have the life of Baptism if we didn't have natural life, and that we received from our mothers. So we take the opportunity to think about motherhood on both of those levels.

Today is also the 95th anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady of Fatima.  Just as a mother's dignity is connected with her bearing children, Mary's powerful mediation is also due to her being the Mother of God. Mother's love is proverbial. History and everyday life abounds with examples of mothers whose love and concern for their children inspired them to overcome seemingly insurmountable difficulties or endure tremendous hardships. God's love for us is compared to that of a mother. “Can a woman so forget her baby as not to have compassion on the child ofher womb? And if she should forget, I will never forget!” (Is.49:15). Even if the unthinkable would happen – that a mother would forget to love her child – even then God would still love us.

Our Blessed Mother appeared to three little children in Fatima, Portugal, as they were in the fields tending their sheep. Our Lady asked Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta to come to the same place, the Cova da Iria, on the 13th of the month for the next five months at noon. Our Lady's visit filled them with such delight that they could not help but speak of it. They did not know who she was, but simply spoke of a beautiful Lady who asked them to pray the Rosary.

Almost a century later, her message is still relevant. She asked the children to amend their lives and cease offending God, to pray the Rosary daily for world peace, to make reparation for sinners, to offer to God the sacrifice of doing ordinary daily duties well.  Appearing just before the end of World War I, Our Blessed Mother told her children that world peace was possible if people would pray and lead lives pleasing to God. 

As we honor our mothers – Holy Mother Church, Our Blessed Mother, our biological mothers, and those who have mothered us in any way – we are grateful for them and pray that we may always live in a manner that would please them.
Crowning of Our Lady of Fatima during May