Happy Birthday Everyone!
OK, for the small percentage of people who are actually born today (May 31st) this happy birthday wish might make sense, but the rest of you might be wondering about this joyful greeting. Today we celebrate the feast of Pentecost, also known as the birthday of the Church – not the church building – but the people who are the Church.
Christ promised his disciples that he would send the Holy Spirit to help them after he ascended into heaven, and on Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, they were granted the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These “birthday gifts” from the Holy Spirit were pretty amazing!
For example, Peter, who had been quietly waiting and praying in a room with Mary and the disciples, boldly came out after receiving the Holy Spirit and proclaimed with great zeal the truth about Jesus. In addition to that, the Holy Spirit gifted the disciples with the ability to speak in other tongues! Over three thousand people were baptized that day! For this reason, Pentecost is considered the birthday of the Church.
The cool thing is that the amazing gifts of the Holy Spirit are not just for the apostles, they are for us too! There are seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Fortitude, Understanding, Piety, Knowledge, Counsel, and Fear of the Lord.
Heroic Character Traits
These seven “heroic character traits” are critical in the challenge of helping to spread the gospel – the good news – to all. They empowered Peter and the other disciples, and they can empower us too!
As Frank X. Blisard states in his article, The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, “the seven gifts are designed to be used in the world for the purpose of transforming that world for Christ. Isaiah 11 vividly portrays what these gifts are to be used for: to do what one is called to do in one’s own time and place to advance the kingdom of God. ”
So, we are supposed to do what we are called to do. That deserves repeating: Do what He calls us to do! (Yeah, I know…easy to write, harder to figure out and carry out.) We will have more success in accomplishing this task of spreading the kingdom of God if we use the gifts given to us. Tapping into these heroic character traits, the seven gifts of the Spirit, is imperative!
As baptized (and confirmed) Christians, we have full access to all these amazing gifts. The question is, are we an open channel for the Spirit’s gifts? Or do we close ourselves off to these gifts by our fear, low expectations, or worldly distractions? Do we think we can do this all by ourselves, and put the gifts away on a shelf? Or do we humbly ask for help as we “armor up” and go do His work?
If we take up arms by saying yes to God’s call and get out there to do the work assigned to us, these heroic character traits, these seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, are there to empower us. Blisard writes that “the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are our spiritual weaponry for the spiritual warfare of everyday life.” When you strive to live a virtuous life and take on the battle, the Holy Spirit endows you with these supernatural powers. Now that’s amazing!
So back to the birthday wishes. God in his inexhaustible love has great things for us, not just on Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, but every day! Let us pray and ask Him to bless us with these amazing gifts:
O Lord Jesus Christ Who, before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish your work in the souls of your Apostles and Disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that he may perfect in my soul, the work of your grace and your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of your divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with you and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of your true disciples, and animate me in all things with your Spirit. Amen.
(Prayer from the Champions of the Cross Novena to the Holy Spirit)