Stories Seldom Heard
June 1, 2020
Welcome to Stories Seldom Heard on this Feast of Pentecost.
The Holy Spirit, whose dramatic arrival we hear of in the Acts of the Apostles, and the One we remember and celebrate at Pentecost, is the same Holy Spirit we hear of throughout the First and Second Testaments. In the First Chapter of Genesis, we hear of this Spirit’s presence as it hovered over chaos before the world was created. This Spirit guided the Israelite people through the desert as they journeyed towards the Promised Land. The Spirit’s presence was often announced by the prophets to remind the Israelites that God traveled with them. “I (Yahweh) will pour my spirit on all humankind. Your sons and daughters will prophesy.” Old and young, women and men, slaves and free people will all receive the same spirit. (2) We also hear of the Spirit being poured out on Jesus at his baptism. Many times in the gospels, this Spirit strengthened and comforted Jesus’ disciples.
Pentecost is a time for us once again to be renewed by the Spirit. The Feast awakens in us our desire to actively participate in the Spirit’s invitation to help bring about the reign of God. The Spirit has never left us, but often we forget to draw on the Spirit’s power and presence. Pentecost is a Feast that encourages us to renew our desire to live “Inspirited lives.” In other words, to make conscious choices each day that enables the Spirit to inform our actions, strengthen our convictions and sweeten our conversations.
Sometimes because our lives get so busy and we get distracted, we don’t take the time to consciously identify the activities of the Holy Spirit in our lives and our world today. However, it’s not hard these days to see and name the Spirit at work. Pentecost reminds us do just that. There are so many people whose generosity and selflessness witness to the Spirit’s presence. These people and their services are true manifestations of the active presence of the Holy Spirit. Wherever we find true Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Courage, Knowledge, Wonder and Reverence, we are blessed by the Gifts of the Spirit. Wherever there are Love, Joy, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control, there are the markings of the Spirit’s presence.
We Dominicans have a special tradition on this Feast of Pentecost. We have a “drawing.” In other words, each of us receives a card with a “Gift” or “Fruit of the Spirit.” Since the cards are small, it is easy to keep them in our pockets as we travel throughout the day. While we stand in line or wait for a stop light of turn green, the cards remind us of that day’s commitment.
So, I offer you an invitation to pray with us during this special Pentecost Season. The following descriptions and reflections on the Fruits of the Spirit are for your personal daily meditations. Each day as we choose one particular Fruit to pray with, may we also pray that our eyes be opened to those who exude that Fruit of the Spirit in our world.
As an example, when praying for the Fruit of Joy, I can’t help but pray for the hospital community whose cheers accompany a covid19 patient as she/he leaves the hospital and continues full recovery. Even in the midst of exhaustion and pain, those workers are filled with a joy that only the Spirit can give. You know the list: teachers balancing professional and family obligations; medical professionals using their expertise wherever it is needed; delivery people arriving at our doors with food, masks, medicine, packages of all sorts; struggling families sharing what they have with other hungry people; farmworkers and day-laborers picking and packing fruits and vegetables; business owners stretching out their hands to support their employees. There are so many others on our list of “Inspirited People.” So let us pray together for the Holy Spirit to continue inspiring all of us as we meet the challenges in our lives each day.
The Fruits of the Holy Spirit
SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1Love. This word doesn’t refer to warm feelings but to a deliberate attitude of good will and devotion to others. Love gives freely without looking at whether the other person deserves it, and it gives without expecting anything back. For whom shall we pray today?
Question: Am I motivated to do for others as Christ has done for me, or am I giving in order to receive something in return?
Joy. Joy is gladness that is completely independent of the good or bad things that happen in the course of the day. Joy is given by the Holy Spirit and actually seems to show up best during hard times. In the midst of difficulties, we place our trust in God’s Love. For whom shall we pray today?
Question: Am I experiencing the joy of life on a regular basis. Is my happiness dependent on things going smoothly in my day?
Peace. Peace is not the absence of turmoil, but the presence of tranquility even while in a place of chaos. It is a sense of wholeness and completeness in spite of the chaos around us. For whom shall we pray today?
Question: Am I frazzled by the crashing waves of turmoil in my life? Am I experiencing “the peace that passes all comprehension?” (Phil 4:6-7)
Patience. Patience is described as long-suffering, forbearance, perseverance, and steadfastness. It is the ability to endure ill treatment from life or at the hands of others without lashing out or paying back.
For whom shall we pray today?
Question: Am I easily up set when things go wrong or people irritate me, or am I able to keep a godly perspective in the face of life’s irritations?
Kindness. When kindness is at work in our lives, we look for ways to adapt to meet the needs of others. It is moral goodness that overflows. It’s also the absence of malice. For whom shall we pray today?
Question: Is it my goal to serve others with kindness, or am I too focused on my own needs, desires or problems to let the goodness of God overflow to others?
Goodness. Goodness reflects the character of God. Goodness desires to see goodness in others and is not beyond confronting or even rebuking (as Jesus did with the money changers in the temple) for that to happen.
For whom shall we pray today?
Question: Does my life reflect the holiness of God? Do I desire to see others experience God at a deep level in their own lives?
Faithfulness. A faithful person is a person of integrity. Aware of God’s faithfulness to us, we strive to keep our commitments to one another and to God. For whom shall we pray today?
Question: Are there areas of hypocrisy and indifference toward others in my life, or is my life characterized by faith in Christ and faithfulness to those around me? For whom shall we pray today?
Gentleness. Meekness is not weakness. Gentleness is not without strength. A gentle person strives to negotiate in times of conflict. She/he forgives others, corrects with kindness, and lives in tranquility.
For whom shall we pray today?
Question: Am I brash or headstrong? Can I be firm on important matters without intimidating others? Do I strive to negotiate difficult decisions?
Self-control. Our natural desires are often at odds with God’s Spirit and want to be in charge. Self-control is literally releasing our obsession with those desires, choosing instead to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. It is power focused in the right place. For whom shall we pray today?
Question: Are my desires controlling my life, or am I allowing the Spirit to direct me to the things that please God and serve others?
Come Spirit of God grant us the power to be gentle, the strength to be forgiving, the patience to be understanding, the endurance to accept the consequences of holding on to what is right. Come Spirit of God help us put our trust in the power of good to overcome evil, the power of love to overcome hatred. Come Spirit of God enlighten us with Your vision. Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of Your faithful and kindle in us the fire of Your love. AMEN.
1. Since the Holy Spirit is God and God has no gender, I will interchange “she” and “he” when referencing the Holy Spirit.
2. Book of Joel, Chapter 3:28
"Stories Seldom Heard" is a monthly reflection written by Sister Patricia Bruno, O.P., a Dominican Sister of San Rafael, California. This service is offered to the Christian community to enrich one's spiritual life. The articles can be used for individual or group reflection. If you would like to support this ministry, please send your contributions to: Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, c/o Sister Patricia Bruno, O.P., 2517 Pine Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
Special thanks to Mary Ellen Green, and Maria Hetherton who have helped in editing this article. To make changes or remove your name from “Stories Seldom Heard” mailing list, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you. Bob McGrath.