As this edition of In the Word arrives in your inbox we are still rejoicing in the recent feast of Pentecost and the great gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in our Church.
St Arnold Janssen, the founder of the Divine Word Missionaries, had a particular devotion to the Holy Spirit. He felt, that in his lifetime in the late 1800s in Europe, the Holy Spirit was the underrated personage of the Holy Trinity and that more emphasis was placed on the Father and the Son.
Consequently, he imbued the life of his missionary society with a keen awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit, an awareness that remains strong and active today.
As missionaries we are called to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with everyone, especially the poor and the marginalised. We live in an age when more than ever we are conscious of God the Father, the Creator of all and we are aware of our duty to care for and safeguard all of God’s creation. And in all of this, as baptised Christians, we are animated and sustained by the holy lifeforce that is the Holy Spirit.
In my years working as a missionary in Central Australia among the Arrernte people I came to a new appreciation of the movement of the Holy Spirit as the people shared with me their dreaming stories. The Spirit has been moving on our earth since creation and continues to move among us today.
In his famous 1986 Alice Springs speech, St Pope John Paul II told the Aboriginal people: “…for thousands of years you have lived in this land and fashioned a culture that endures to this day. And during all this time, the Spirit of God has been with you. Your ‘Dreaming’, which influences your lives so strongly that, no matter what happens, you remain for ever people of your culture, is your only way of touching the mystery of God’s Spirit in you and in creation. You must keep your striving for God and hold on to it in your lives”.
We must all keep striving for God and remain open to the movement of the Spirit in our life.
As Provincial, I become aware of the movement of the Spirit when I see our confreres fired up with enthusiasm for some new pastoral initiative that is alive with energy. I see the Spirit at work in the loving care of the elderly; in prayerful and patient family life; in the lives of missionaries who are sustained and uplifted in difficult or challenging circumstances, as well as in the lives of the people they serve. I see it when someone has a new practical idea of how to help people living in poverty – whether that be in terms of housing, education, health, or work skills. Wherever God’s love is animated and made real and active in our world, there we find the movement of the Holy Spirit.
And so, as the Church moves from the celebration of the great feasts of Easter, Pentecost, and Trinity Sunday back into Ordinary Time, let us keep our eye out for the presence of the Holy Spirit around us. Let us pray that the Spirit will come and help us in our daily lives and inspire us on to loving action.
‘Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.’
Yours in the Word,
Fr Asaeli Rass SVD