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Saturday 4 February 2012

If Christ were here today, would He be crucified again? For all the persecuted Christians, check out this painter...who is a prophet in our times

Can you spare a half-hour for this artist? A hint from Drudge opened an extraordinary meditation series on political art, which I usually do not like. However, I think the man is inspired and guess which one is my favorite?

For all the persecuted Christians in the world, including the States.

Go buy something from this man on his website as seen on the videos.

Perfection Part Four-Conversation and the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

For years, Confirmation classes have been taught by those who do not understand the Life of the Spirit. Part of the problem is a misunderstanding or ignorance on the nature of Baptism. The other is the ignorance of the real meaning of the Gifts of the Spirit.

Perhaps the problem is partly the same problem of the modern generations in thinking that any talents which they have are "theirs" and not given by God. Meritocracies create this false ambiance of a person having done it "my way" with "my effort" and "my talents". Garrigou-Lagrange highlights the teaching of the Council of Trent in his section on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, writing that:

To know the teaching of the Church on this subject we shall re­call what the Council of Trent says: "The efficient cause [of our justification] is the merciful God who washes and sanctifies gratuitously (I Cor. 6: II), signing and anointing with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance (Eph. I: 13 f.)." (11)
The Catechism of the Council of Trent fixes this point exactly by enumerating the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost according to Isaias (11: 2 f.), and by adding: "These gifts of the Holy Ghost are for us, as it were, a divine source whence we draw the living knowledge of the precepts of Christian life. Moreover, by them we can know whether the Holy Ghost dwells in us." (12) St. Paul says, in fact: "For the Spirit Himself giveth testimony to our spirit, that we are the sons of God." (13) He gives us this testimony by the filial love which He inspires in us, and by which He makes Himself, so to speak, felt by us.(14)

Now out of these rich paragraphs are two concepts I want to highlight. The first is the idea of "gratuitously" given gifts. And, the second is the fact that we can know if we have the Indwelling of the Spirit.

In Baptism and in Confirmation, God freely and gratuitously gives us the Holy Spirit, and this means that the Trinity dwells in us. The word gratuitous means given freely without us having to earn these gifts. These are not ours to earn, but ours to accept. By Faith, we know we are given the means to live a Christian life of perfection here, now, on earth. We are freely given by God all we need to be saints. As a reminder, these gifts are listed in Isaiah: "And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness, and He shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord." 

All Catholics, who are in sanctifying grace, can exhibit these gifts. All are called to do so. And, how do we observe these in ourselves?

Garrgiou-Lagrange and Thomas Aquinas point to two easy ways to determine whether we actually have the gifts, which we do in Faith, and these are first, our relationship with God and secondly, our relationship with others.  It is that simple.

If we are in a relationship with God, using the Gifts of the Spirit, we are in conversation with God, as St. Ignatius points out, as if He were a friend of ours in the same room. We can discuss anything with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We can be in a habit and attitude of prayer constantly, even when doing work, even menial work. When Garrigou-Lagrange, in quoting St. Paul notes that we can know through the Holy Spirit that the Trinity dwells in us, we only need to look at ourselves in relationship with God first and all others second.

Are we seeking to be in the Presence of God? Do we use the Gifts as a source of Life daily? Do we practice the virtues using these Gifts? Do we express love for God daily, gratefully, in prayer and deeds? The Holy Spirit testifies to our own status.

Second, do we love? Do we sacrifice for others? Do we die to self? Do we want and pursue perfection?

If we can say "yes" to all of these questions, in conversation with God and ourselves, we begin to recognize the Gifts. And why is this important? We cannot use what we do not know we have. If we have love, we give love and if we know love, we can give and receive love. Now, sometimes the only love we receive is that from Christ directly, and not from some other human person, who is not the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Such unrequited love is the love of self-denial and self-sacrifice. The Gifts allow us to give and use that love in practical ways. Love is practical and not merely an idea. Love results in works of love. If we see this, we know we have the Gifts of the Spirit truly, and not just by Faith and Hope, but in Love. 

If we are not exhibiting the virtues, there is a blockage, a hidden sin, which takes an honest examination of conscience and Confession to change. The virtues flow from the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.