I often find that what I am spiritually reflecting on and working on appears in the Sunday readings and homily. This I believe is the Spirit at work. It doesn’t necessarily mean the readings and homily are only intended for me—rather the Spirit is able to make the readings and homily speak to each person’s unique spiritual needs if he or she is open and listening. In this, I find awe and strength.
Experiencing the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
This Sunday the readings showed the early church leaders and Jesus’ apostles experiencing the gifts of the Holy Spirit and struggling with what to do with them and understand. Some wanted to possess them—but Moses and Jesus reminded us that the gifts are to be given and shared. This spoke loudly to me. I have been witnessing and experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit at work around me and through me. And this was a reinforcement to me of what I had been observing—a direct call to indeed take notice and heed of the spirit at work and to continue to open myself up to the work of the Holy Spirit. And most importantly, to give it back to others and speak of it to others.
“. . . it was the Holy Spirit that led me to join the community as an associate.”
In fact, as I reflect on the 185 Years of the BVM sisters, the 175 Years of Clarke, and the founder of both, I am reminded that it was the Holy Spirit that led me to join the community as an associate.
I was attracted to Mary Frances’ spiritualism and reliance on the Holy Spirit. In reading her letters, one will notice over and over again that she displayed steadfast faith and an awareness of her unity with them in the Spirit and her community of sisters. Her humility and finding freedom in this inspired me and drew me to want to also belong. In one of her letters I was especially drawn to her statement “I bow and submit to the Holy will of God.” This has become my motto and mission—to be able to live this out each day. This exemplifies Mary Frances’ Clarke understanding of freedom and the commitment to being open to the channeling of the Holy Spirit so that God’s work can be done. It is also what shaped the BVM constitution that states “Growth in prayer depends on the Holy Spirit who guides us in discovering life-giving patterns in prayer, both personal and communal” (BVM Constitutions 23).
“Now do not be uneasy about your affairs; God will help you, and I will help you a wee bit too.”
As the BVMs and Clarke University look towards the future and how to continue to ground the community in this, the Holy Spirit will continue to lead and guide us if we are open. The Spirit will work around us, with us and through us. And even though the future is unclear, the political and church landscape is currently at unease and full of malaise, we can take comfort in knowing the Holy Spirit is at work and find comfort in Mary Frances Clarkes’ words in 1887 that still apply: “Now do not be uneasy about your affairs; God will help you, and I will help you a wee bit too” (Mary Frances Clarke letter 235, 1887).
Indeed, I do feel her presence mingled with the Holy Spirit and at work around us, in us, and through us. We just need to be open to seeing it, receiving it and sharing it.
Featured photo caption: BVM Foundress Mary Frances Clarke
Sister and associates form a community of believers who embrace the gospel vision as lived out through the charism of BVM Foundress Mary Frances Clarke.