The Gift of the Spirit

A reflection on Pentecost Sunday by Mother Maria Michael Newe, OSB

In Eden, after the Fall, the focus of Adam and Eve that was once directed toward God and eternal things was drawn to earth like a magnet. Love was twisted from being centered on God to being centered on self, and this is the great tragedy of our fallen state. But Pentecost changes everything for us. The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to strive to love rightly again. The gift of the Spirit prompts us to hate the weeds (our sins) that keep trying to take root in our souls. Our goal should be to return to Eden in our souls; and we do this through contrition and Reconciliation, responding to the Spirit’s promptings to continually uproot our vices by sorrowing over them and seeking the loving mercy of the Father. Remember the parable that Jesus Himself uses to teach us about the love of our Father in Luke 15, and let us never tire of running to the One who receives us as the loving father receives his prodigal son.

Not only does the Spirit grant us the grace of conversion; various virtues and gifts are given as well. In The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena, we read her beautiful insight into how the Lord deigned that we each receive different virtues in order to build each other up, to build up the Body of Christ for the good of the world. The Lord said to her, “Why do I give this person one virtue and that person another, rather than giving them all to one person? It is true that all the virtues are bound together, and it is impossible to have one without having them all. But I give them in different ways so that one virtue might be, as it were, the source of all the others. So to one person I give charity as the primary virtue, to another justice, to another humility, to another a lively faith or prudence or temperance or patience, and to still another courage. … I have distributed them all in such a way that no one has all of them. Thus have I given you reason—necessity, in fact—to practice mutual charity. For I could well have supplied each of you with all your needs, both spiritual and material. But I wanted to make you dependent on one another so that each of you would be my minister, dispensing the graces and gifts you have received from me” (click here for full text of The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena). How very cunning of the Lord to make us need one another. Do you know what your primary virtue is? Ask! Ask! I need your gifts. The Church needs your gifts. Strive eagerly to know our virtues so that we can serve each other well. Remember that without the virtue of love, all the virtues count for nothing. Yes, above all, we must strive to love as God does, first of all by allowing ourselves to be loved by God. Then we will restore Eden in our souls, and in this way bring the Kingdom of God to earth. May we all do this, and may He bring us all together to life everlasting!