From the Rector
COME, HOLY SPIRIT
To the Salesian College Family,
Now that the worst of the Coronavirus Pandemic is over here in Australia, and the various Commonwealth and State Government restrictions have been eased considerably, we are moving uncertainly into a period of recovery and return to some form of normality.
However, as we return to the ‘old normal’ or get used to the ‘new normal’, we need as much help and guidance as we can possibly get. Though we can receive this assistance from many ‘earthly’ sources, our greatest source of ‘spiritual’ help is none other than Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord. In fact, before ascending into heaven following his resurrection, Jesus promised to be with us ‘all days, yes even to the end of time’.
Furthermore, he promised to send us the Holy Spirit to support and accompany us in the ups and downs of our life’s journey. This Spirit would be known by many different names: Helper, Comforter, Counsellor, Strengthener and Healer. But perhaps his most relevant title in this period of transition from crisis to normality is that of ADVOCATE or PARACLETE. This is so because the title of ‘Advocate’ signifies one who pleads for and speaks in favour of another, whilst the term ‘Paraclete’ similarly applies to one who stands beside and stands up for another in a moment of genuine trial.
However, the Holy Spirit is not simply with us as our spiritual advocate, encourager and defender, and our supporter and adviser at all of life’s key moments, but he is constantly available to us through his seven generous gifts which are as follows:
WISDOM, UNDERSTANDING, COUNSEL, FORTITUDE, KNOWLEDGE, PIETY and FEAR OF THE LORD.
Briefly defined, Wisdom enables us to have a wise mind and a loving heart, leading us to charity.
Understanding enables us to develop a thirst and hunger for truth, leading us to faith.
Counsel enables us to judge promptly, fairly and rightly, leading us to prudence.
Fortitude enables us to live with strength and endurance, leading us to courage.
Knowledge enables us to see things in terms of God’s love and providence, leading us to faith.
Piety or Reverence enables us to recognise our total reliance on God and his plan for humankind, leading us to justice.
Fear of the Lord enables us to become aware of God’s glory and grandeur, leading us to hope.
Though all of these Gifts of the Holy Spirit are undoubtedly very helpful in our present situation of recovery and return to normality, it seems to me that the Gifts of Counsel and Fortitude are of particular value and relevance at this time.
Firstly, Counsel is especially helpful to us in moments of difficulty and doubt, because it helps us to make right judgements and wise decisions on behalf of ourselves and those significant others who depend upon us. This gift is a sort of supernatural intuition or prompting, an illumination of the divine, a mentoring or guiding of the Holy Spirit. It promotes the much-needed virtue of Prudence which is a combination of wisdom, discretion, carefulness and commonsense. In a recent edition of ‘The Tablet’ magazine, the editor defines Prudence as the capacity of ‘assessing the risks and making a carefully balanced judgement’.
Secondly, Fortitude is of a great assistance in times of crisis, conflict and tragedy because it involves courage, strength, endurance and resilience. It includes firmness of mind and single-mindedness of heart in doing good and avoiding evil. And it encompasses a willingness to stand up for what is right in the sight of God, even if it means accepting rejection, verbal abuse, physical harm and the many ‘slings and arrows’ of 21st Century society.
Finally, perhaps the most outstanding ‘gift’ of the Holy Spirit at this pivotal time of human history is to bring a sense of newness, freshness, renewal and difference into our present world, and to be an impetus for change, creativity and originality in our personal and collective lives. In this sense, the Spirit asks us ‘What have you learnt from the Coronavirus Pandemic? What did you do or try during the lockdown period that changed you and made you better? What hidden qualities and talents did you discover deep within yourselves in the darkest moments? And what new things, new ideas, and new plans and dreams will you attempt to realise once all restrictions are lifted?’
And as we attempt to answer these questions, let us pray:
‘Come, Holy Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.’
As you reflect upon the presence and influence of the Holy Spirit in your lives, and attempt to answer the questions above, I invite you to enjoy the video below which features ‘If This Time Has Taught Me Anything’ by Kevin McCormack.
In St Francis de Sales,
Fr Greg Chambers