1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13
As I was preparing for this homily the image that came to mind seemed a bit odd to me, but wouldn’t go away. The image was the drink known as a ‘Black and Tan.’ You begin with a good pint glass and fill it about halfway with Bass Pale Ale. Then you take a bent spoon and with the bottom of the cupped part facing up, very slowly pour Guinness on top of the spoon and allow it to settle in the glass. The density of the beers being different and the gentle pour aided by the spoon results in the beers not mixing but layering, giving it the description ‘Black and Tan’.
The reason that image came to mind is that the Holy Spirit is given to us at baptism and desires to transform our entire life, making His way into each and every moment of our day. The problem is that sometimes when we encounter God we take various types of spoons and put them in the way such that God is still part of the pint glass that is our life, but it doesn’t mess with everything. We try to make our life a Black and Tan in that we can have our nice time where God is welcome to do all sorts of things, but we can also have those places where God isn’t really part of the equation and can keep to Himself and we can keep things as we like them.
One of my favorites depictions of Pentecost is one in which Our Lady is standing joyfully in the center ready to receive the Holy Spirit but the rest of the Apostles and disciples are all falling down, fleeing the scene, many with their hands moving as if to shield themselves. It seems right because Our Lady was perfectly open to the Holy Spirit from the start but the others, like us, had to be purified and prepared for His arrival in their hearts. This is a difficult process – hence, our reluctance to begin it, instead turning to sin, grasping for control, or simply keeping ourselves to busy we don’t have time to hear the voice of God speak.
In response to any of these fears or the tendency to busy-ness, I want to invite each of you to join me in doing a ten-minute challenge for the week. Cardinal Mercier, of happy memory, was once asked about the secret of sanctity and he had this to say:
I am going to reveal to you the secret of sanctity and happiness. Every day for five minutes control your imagination and close your eyes to all the noises of the world in order to enter into yourself. Then, in the sanctuary of your baptized soul, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit, speak to that Divine Spirit, saying to Him:
O Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore You. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, console me. Tell me what I should do; give me Your orders. I promise to submit myself to all that You desire of me and to accept all that You permit to happen to me. Let me only know Your Will.
If you do this, your life will flow along happily, serenely, and full of consolation, even in the midst of trials. Grace will be proportioned to the trial, giving you the strength to carry it and you will arrive at the Gate of Paradise, laden with merit. This submission to the Holy Spirit is the secret of sanctity.
So I invite you to join with me this week in putting this secret into action. Take five minutes away from all the things of the world and rest with the Holy Spirit, pray the prayer above and then rest for a few minutes with the Holy Spirit once more, as He may desire to speak. Then, go about your day. As Cardinal Mercier noted, you’ll soon notice that there is a peace that has come to all the other things of the day. The craziness of the world around you will still be there as before, but the peace of soul we desire will have increased and that is the desire of the Lord as today He seeks to give us peace as He gave it to His disciples. Come, Holy Spirit. Come and bring us your joy. Come and bring us your grace. Come and bring us your peace.