10 The Holy Spirit works through natural channels - Fr Hilario Fernandes, sfx

posted May 17, 2018, 8:50 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 17, 2018, 8:50 AM ]
The Church celebrates the feast of Pentecost – the outpouring of the Spirit on the Apostles and a group of believers. The Spirit manifested Himself through some spectacular signs—tongues of fire, strong wind, the gift of tongues, etc. That was the charismatic experience of those present at that moment, and all were blessed with special charisms of the Spirit, especially for the mission and growth of the Church. But in our day to day life, the same Spirit, which we have received at the time of our Baptism, is at work in the daily trivialities of our life. At times, we are tempted to think that only when a person shouts during a charismatic prayer meeting or falls down and rolls on the floor or manifests some unusual signs, that he or she has 'received the Spirit'. The Spirit may manifest at times in unusual ways, but most of the time, He works through ordinary ways or through natural channels. As L. Bermejo says, "...the Spirit's promptings come to us enfleshed, incarnated in concrete historical circumstances that consequently become the channels of grace."

What are some of these natural channels or concrete historical circumstances by which the Spirit works in our day to day life? He may work through the Word of God coming from a reader or a preacher. The Spirit was experienced by the people through Peter's preaching and they were transformed. (cfr. Acts 2,14-42) As we read the Word of God prayerfully, the Spirit may enlighten and inspire us to change and transform our lives or to help someone. During our celebration of the Sacraments by a priest, especially the Eucharist or the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Spirit may prompt us to reach out to someone in need or invite us to purify ourselves of our sinful ways, or to patch up a broken relationship and forgive someone whom we have not forgiven since long.

The Holy Spirit works through the leaders of the Church. Pope Francis could be called a man of the Spirit. His lifestyle and his messages inspire many, and at times, the Spirit surprises us through his creative actions and behaviour. His timely Apostolic Exhortations – Evangelii Gaudium, Amoris Laetitia, and the recent Gaudete et Exsultate, and other letters, are the signs that the Holy Spirit is speaking to the Church in today's world through the Pope. The Spirit is guiding the Pope in the governance of the Church, especially at the top level – the Roman Curia. While commending the good work the Curia does, he had the courage to say, "Like anybody, it (Roman Curia) is exposed to sickness, malfunction and infirmity... there are illnesses like 'spiritual Alzheimer's', the temptation to overwork and not pray: 'Martha-ism'; double lives: 'Existential schizophrenia', 'terrorism of gossip', 'funeral face' ...". To make such bold statements with regard to the Curia's functioning is possible only when the Spirit is at work in a person. Under the influence of the Spirit, the Pope instituted a core college of eight (now nine)Cardinal consultors from different continents, cultures and countries.

The forthcoming Synod in October 2018 on the theme 'Young people, Faith and Vocational Discernment' and the Pre-Synodal meeting in Rome with over 15,000 young people from all over the world (some of them from other faiths) in March 2018 to discuss about their problems and listening to one another – is it not the work of the Spirit? Can we not say that perhaps the Spirit also works through young people who have great desires and dreams and want to contribute towards the wellbeing of people in need? At times, we elders, priests and religious, tend to see mainly the negative in our youth, and forget that the Spirit can speak to the elders and to the Church through the young people.