Where is the Holy Spirit in what we do?

01 May 2015

A common question asked of us after an event is: ‘How did it go?’ We hear it often. Even when we go on holidays or stay at hotel accommodation, there’s always an evaluation sheet. It can be tiresome. But the corporate world seems to demand this!

Even among us Catholics we are often asking the following somewhat similar questions. For example, ‘How did your Easter ceremonies go?’ ‘How did the Archdiocesan Assembly go in March?’ ‘How did the Confirmation Mass go?’… ‘How did “it” go?’

How do we answer this? We have to be careful not to translate everything from the corporate world into our ecclesial world. There might be similarities but there are also great differences!

We must not simply say ‘Oh, the food was OK. It ran smoothly. There was a good attendance. Tea and coffee could have been a bit hotter’. I suppose all these issues are significant but they not the most important thing when you have a Church event! Surely!

As a faith-filled people, just talking on the practical level is not enough. Australians are generally very practical people. It’s both our strength and our weakness.

When we gather as the People of God we need to know more than just the practicalities. For instance, when we had our ecclesial assembly or when we celebrate Confirmation Masses in these months to come, or when we in our liturgical committees review our Easter ceremonies, we’re not just simply talking about ‘an’ event or a concert or a musical. Far from it! When we gather it’s just not just another conference!

When we gather as Christ’s body on earth these are all expressions of THE event. It’s not an ‘it’. The saving events of the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus alive in his Church, particularly in his Sacraments and the gatherings of his people are all part of THE great event! The Christ event!
So, therefore, how can we phrase questions that are more appropriate?
I suppose I am looking for answers to the following question when we review our encounters with Christ in his Church: ‘Where is the Holy Spirit in what happened?’

We might helpfully use the Biblical template, “For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,” (Romans 14:17).

If this could be used as our Biblical template to see where the Holy Spirit is in our missionary endeavours, we could ask ourselves: ‘So where was righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit in our Easter ceremonies, Confirmations, Assemblies and so on?’

This is where the real Christian assessment starts. In a sense we become ‘fruit’ inspectors! We look for the fruits of the Holy Spirit in our missionary endeavours.

Surely this is what the early Church in the Easter readings of this month indicate. As with the early Church so with us. We are trying to make ‘God sense’ of the death and Resurrection of Jesus in our own place and time. We want to make sure that we are dynamic “missionary disciples” (as Pope Francis would say in The Joy of the Gospel).

During the month of May, particularly, we could well look to Mary in knowing the right response to the presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst. She is, and will always be, the first among the faithful. We particularly remember her intercession on the 25th of May, the Solemnity of Our Lady Help of Christians, the patroness of Australia.

In Mary’s ‘assessment’ she always responded with joy and praise. She gave thanks to God for his presence among us more than anything else. She magnified the Lord! Let us try to do the same.

Archbishop Christopher Prowse
Catholic Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn