by Shannon Rasmussen
CGS SonFlower Board President
As we live each liturgical season, God brings us new delights that fill us in ways we never knew possible. Maybe it is hearing those words of scripture with new ears or becoming delighted in a piece of the Mass because of our own further work with the materials in the Atrium. However, at the celebration of Pentecost, it is none other than the overwhelming recognition of God’s abundant gifts—given to us directly through the Holy Spirit. We receive each gift more prominently at different moments in our lives. We already know these gifts.
But what gift When working with the children before us in the Atrium setting, we ponder these gifts more deeply. We begin to understand their meanings and how they apply to us too. How do we put these gifts into action? With the younger children, I notice we often ask, is the Holy Spirit telling us we need more of in our own lives this year? How can we use these gifts of the Holy Spirit for something bigger than our own spiritual strengthening? How can we best utilize these gifts for the betterment of our struggling society?
In a letter to Diognetus (found in the non-Biblical readings for Easter #6 of the Office of the Hours, p. 1996-1998), it is clear that we are an integral part of our sometimes-dark world. In this letter, it says, “To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all cities of the world but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen.
“…It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together.”
When working with the children before us in the Atrium setting, we ponder these gifts more deeply. We begin to understand their meanings and how they apply to us too. How do we put these gifts into action? With the younger children, I notice we often ask, “Which gift of the Holy Spirit do you want?” Then, when they are older, we might ask, “Which gift do you need?” We as adults also go through this progression in our desire for the Holy Spirit’s great gifts. Sometimes our earthly experiences speak loudly about what gift we most want. Later, though, we find ourselves inundated with an abundance of all the Holy Spirit’s gifts, and it no longer is what we want but what the Holy Spirit needs to give us so that we are appropriately strengthened to be the soul of the world. Even the apostles could not fulfill their mission without receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
God desires to give us a gift. The appropriate response to a gift is to receive it with grace, joy, and gratitude. Then we can use God’s spiritual gifts to further build up the kingdom of God here on earth. Once we receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we must then determine how to pass on those gifts to others around us—our spouse, our family, the parish community, the children with us in the Atrium, and those beyond our Christian bubble. This may be someone of another faith background or someone with no faith at all. How do we live out the fullness of these gifts so others may come to better know who God is?