I shared the following story in a past article, but it is worth repeating.
Many years ago, I had the great privilege of witnessing an all-boys high school lyre ensemble perform for the middle school in which I found myself. It was completely mind boggling to see these young men proudly play a lyre. A lyre is a lap harp. These harps varied in size according to the part that the musicians took in their performance. Most, not all, did not fit on their laps!
One would expect such a performance to include classical melodies. Nope, not one classical melody was performed that afternoon. Rather, these young musicians skillfully played rap and reggae on their harps! Yes, I would not have believed it either unless I saw it with my own two eyes!
This is a story I used as I presented the story of St. Patrick trying to teach the Irish people about the Trinity through the use of the shamrock. I asked my students, “What would you use to explain the Trinity?” Miguel, my resident philosopher, raised his hand eagerly and declared, “I would use a lyre!” Smiling, I said, “Please explain!” “Well, one side of the lyre represents God, the Father. The other side symbolizes Jesus.” I butted in, “What about the Holy Spirit?” “Sister, be patient, I am getting to that! The love bond between Father and Son can be found in the strings that flow from each side. When the Father looks at the Son, he sighs. When the Son looks at the Father, he sighs. This breath is the Holy Spirit that plucks the strings that only lovers can hear.” I was stunned at his image. Today, I would add that the workings of the Holy Spirt call us to live out our individual calling from God: to be holy!
In my next series of articles, let us look at holiness and the work of the Holy Spirit.
First and foremost, holiness is a work of God. We cannot become holy on our own power. Yes, we are called to be holy as a means of the Sacrament of Baptism, but we cannot do it without God. Heck, we cannot change any aspect of ourselves without God’s help. I’m sure that those of you who have dieted and maintained your new weight for a long time can attest that it was not under your power. Or, those of you who are in recovery from any addiction know that God is the only one that can give you the power over the addiction. God is the only one who can make us into saints!
With that being said, you might wonder, “What role DO I have in becoming a saint?” Glad you asked! I often say that even though God has the power, He does not move a parked car. If we are in park and determined not to respond to his grace, then He will not force Himself on us. Rather, in order to be operative with Him, we must be open ourselves, accepting our personal brokenness and poverty, to His grace.
“Holiness is not the realization of a given model of perfections that is identical for everyone. It is the emergence of an absolutely unique reality that God alone knows, and that he alone brings to fruition. No individual knows what his own holiness consists of. Holiness is only revealed to us by degrees, as we journey on, and it is often something very different from what we imagine, so much so that the greatest obstacle on the path to holiness may be to cling to closely to the image we have of our own perfection.”1
How do we know the path that God wants for us? Follow His inspiration! The more we follow the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the more grace is given to us. For me, the ability to do this is “Look at your Feet Spirituality.” This is 100% a “Sister Geralyn thing.” It means wherever your feet are is where the workings of grace and the Holy Spirit is. It does not lie in the future or in the past, but right now at this present moment.
Figuratively looking at your feet will determine which virtue you are called to practice. Is a somewhat annoying co-worker speaking to you as you are stressed with trying to get something completed? Perhaps patience is the virtue that the Holy Spirit is asking you to practice. Or, maybe you feel discouraged over something. Perhaps the virtue “at your feet” is fortitude.
This is how the Holy Spirit works: gentle whispers in the midst of our day to day work. The trick is to be attentive to the whispers, the “strings that lovers can hear!”
1Philippe, J. In the School of the Holy Spirit. (2002). Scepter Pubs, p. 18
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By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, The Catholic Witness