Friday, January 4, 2013

In His Spirit

"I am the vine; you are the branches."   --John15:5

There are many aspects of the Holy Spirit, as it is known in the Christian world. Its activity while not limited to Christians, encompasses the whole of Creation; we learn of its presence and activities from the Gospels. More importantly we learn about its work from the experiences of our own lives.
 It's popular to think of luck, fortune or mere intuition as the active agents in one's world. And they are. But what if these activities are orchestrated, at least some times, by an over-arching energy, a spirit? What might that be like?

With the coming of the Spirit, there dawns a new thought in the world, a new way; while the Spirit, the angels and the sages were well known to Judaism, it is Christianity that carries it further, banking on the Spirit as part of a tri-une god. The way of the Christ for early Christians was their dawning of what today we think of as "Judeo-Christian" spirituality, even mystical experience.
Following the Christ in the Spirit does not mean conforming to a rigid code of behavior or thought; indeed the Spirit has come to set us and all captives free. Following in the Spirit does not mean that we are now without fault; indeed the Spirit brings forgiveness. Following in the Spirit does not mean denying our unique characteristics; indeed the Creator has already seen to that in forming us to be the good that we are.

Then what is this Spirit about? Jesuit theologian Richard Hauser writes in his classic introduction to the Holy Spirit, In His Spirit, that living under the influence of the Spirit, "[is] being forever concerned with 'building the Kingdom." From stories in the Bible one gets the impression that the Christ and those who follow, the disciples, are on the move.
They do not rest; such is their energy, their spirit and their joy at the realization of the existence of a heaven on earth. "Such is the Spirit's presence in the Christ and in the community that they are propelled forward in their work."

In this activity, they discover and experience the peace, joy and love rained down upon them by the Spirit, the Paraclete. This peacefulness, loving, kind nature is brought forward by the community. "In our day [when] Christians are becoming more and more conscious of responsibility for transforming the unjust structures of our societies through active involvement with society..."
 The Holy Spirit is our sanctifier. We are blessed and strengthened by its action, energized in our activity, in our prayer.

"The Spirit too comes to help us in our weakness. For when we cannot choose words in order to pray, the Spirit himself expresses our plea …"
Romans 8

"The Father knows what you need before you ask him."
Matthew 6

As we grow into a life in the Spirit, a life in its love, over time we may find greater ease in the expression of our innate self; the Spirit operates at the deepest levels of our beings. Its activity flows from the center of our daily lives because we are both bodies and spirits.
Thomas Merton, Christian mystic, insists that prayer is an expression of our entire being; it is rooted in life, and flows from life. In fact, in his view, meditation has no point and no reality unless it 's firmly rooted in life.

There are two principal ways the Spirit moves, easily recognized: first in times of happiness and consolations; secondly when we feel a quiet, inner peace, aware that God is with us; that we are loved wholly. This movement by the Spirit is unaccompanied by much intellectual activity.There is a quiet, a resting; words are less necessary as we come to know a person.
Good friends can enjoy each other's company and say very little. They know something of the heart of the other. The Spirit is many in its works.

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