By Barb Arland-Fye
My love and appreciation for the Holy Spirit has grown immensely since I joined The Catholic Messenger staff eight years ago this month.
Working for the church has blessed me with an opportunity to be more aware of the Spirit’s role in my decision-making process. Sometimes the awareness is as simple as making note of whether I’m responding to people in a Christian manner.
These eight years have passed so quickly and I marvel at the milestones along my journey of faith — professionally and personally. My older son Colin was a freshman in high school and hadn’t yet been confirmed. My younger son Patrick was a first-grader who was a year away from making his first Communion. Now both have been initiated as full members in the Catholic Church!
The last of the four Fyes to be confirmed, Patrick, celebrated the sacrament of confirmation with his peers at Our Lady of the River Parish on Feb. 20. Family and friends were present for the momentous occasion. Bishop Martin Amos presided at Mass, with our pastor, Father Joe Wolf, concelebrating.
In his homily, Bishop Amos focused on the power of the Spirit in the lives of a Hindu, Jew, Anglican and a Baptist and as referenced in the Koran, Islam’s sacred book.
The bishop’s point wasn’t that all religions and faiths are the same, but that he believes the Spirit moves freely even outside the Catholic Church. “The fact that all these different people see the Holy Spirit alive and active in their lives should only emphasize even more the gift and power of God’s Spirit that each of us possesses,” Bishop Amos observed. At baptism, he told the confirmands, we become temples of God’s Spirit; at confirmation we are sealed by that Spirit; all our lives are lived in the Spirit. The prompting of the Spirit leads and guides us every moment of our lives.
But the prompting of the Holy Spirit is quiet, and unless we unlock the door to ourselves, the Spirit cannot enter, the bishop said. “Unless we enter into the temple where God’s Spirit dwells, we will not hear. Prayer is where we enter that temple.”
What Bishop Amos said next was especially moving to me. “In my experience, I don’t hear God often when I pray, but I think that is where we learn God’s voice so that we do hear God when the Spirit speaks.”
A few years before my father-in-law Bill died, he returned to the Catholic Church after nearly 50 years away from it. Personal crisis brought him to his knees in prayer at home and in the Catholic Church. He attended Mass several or more times a week; helped out at his parish and formed a lasting bond with the pastor. One of my last memories is of Bill lying on his death bed and correcting us as we recited the rosary around him. Bill prayed and he heard the Spirit. It was an answer to one of my prayers.
During an interview with our pastor prior to being confirmed, my son Patrick said St. Patrick would be his role model because of the saint’s faith in God through prayer. The Spirit moved St. Patrick to be a great evangelist who converted many, many Irishmen to Christianity. Our daily prayer routine has allowed my son to know that God is with him, even when he isn’t aware of God’s presence. These are some of the ways I hear God when the Spirit speaks and works in my life and in the lives of those I love.