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The Spirit Is Real in Our Lives
By Diane M. Houdek
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, May 5, 2013
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John’s Gospel explores complex and spiritual ideas, far different from the earthy parables of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Sometimes we might think these philosophical discussions have little to do with our daily lives. But again and again Jesus returns to words we know very well: love, peace, joy, freedom from fear.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit to remind the disciples of all that he has told them. This same Spirit moves in us when we face difficult situations. The Spirit gives us the words we need to bring peace to a tense meeting or a hurtful relationship. The Spirit that soothes us to sleep in the middle of a stressful night. The Spirit that reminds us of the good within ourselves and people we love.

Sometimes we forget what we know in the pressures and tensions of our everyday lives. Family, work, the unsettled state of the world, press in on us and in the clamor we can forget our focus, our purpose, our need to surrender to the Spirit. Sometimes all it takes is a little nudge, a reminder that we know that there’s a better way, the way of Jesus, the way of the Spirit.

The Spirit’s nudging reminders keep us focused on the things that matter: peace in our hearts and in our world, love for ourselves, one another and our God, the faith that’s rooted in our baptism and grows and strengthens as we face life’s challenges.

That same Spirit moves through our Church as well. The Acts of the Apostles reminds us that while the Spirit moved in wondrous ways to encourage the growth of the new community, people still had to resolve serious conflicts among themselves. In their day, no less than in ours, the community struggled with the question of rules and laws, of who’s in and who’s out, of what was essential and what was human tradition.

The strong leadership and dedication of people like Paul and Barnabas helped cut through the controversies of the day and reminded the new Christians of the man and the faith they hold dear. We see that same spirit in the best of our leaders today.

The second reading from the Book of Revelation seems a good counterpoint to the controversies in Acts. Human institutions, no matter how lofty their intentions, can become mired in human misunderstanding and sin; in God’s kingdom those failings will be transcended.

As we move through these days between Easter and Pentecost, our readings remind us to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to guide us, to speak to us and for us, to draw us ever more deeply into the love of God. While we never lose sight of the human ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, we know that the resurrection means that we are called into something even greater than this life here on earth. All that we do here, serving our brothers and sisters, should reflect and point to that eternal reality.

The readings from the Gospel of John during these final weeks of Easter often seem to repeat the same things over and over again. But, like a favorite melody that runs through our minds, the words of Jesus in John’s Gospel can soothe and calm us, can move us forward, can give us the peace and courage that are the truly the gifts of the Spirit.

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Charles de Foucauld: Born into an aristocratic family in Strasbourg, France, Charles was orphaned at the age of six, raised by his devout grandfather, rejected the Catholic faith as a teenager and joined the French army. Inheriting a great deal of money from his grandfather, Charles went to Algeria with his regiment, but not without his mistress, Mimi. <br /><br />When he declined to give her up, he was dismissed from the army. Still in Algeria when he left Mimi, Charles reenlisted in the army. Refused permission to make a scientific exploration of nearby Morocco, he resigned from the service. With the help of a Jewish rabbi, Charles disguised himself as a Jew and in 1883 began a one-year exploration that he recorded in a book that was well received. <br /><br />Inspired by the Jews and Muslims whom he met, Charles resumed the practice of his Catholic faith when he returned to France in 1886. He joined a Trappist monastery in Ardeche, France, and later transferred to one in Akbes, Syria. Leaving the monastery in 1897, Charles worked as gardener and sacristan for the Poor Clare nuns in Nazareth and later in Jerusalem. In 1901 he returned to France and was ordained a priest. <br /><br />Later that year Charles journeyed to Beni-Abbes, Morocco, intending to found a monastic religious community in North Africa that offered hospitality to Christians, Muslims, Jews, or people with no religion. He lived a peaceful, hidden life but attracted no companions. <br /><br />A former army comrade invited him to live among the Tuareg people in Algeria. Charles learned their language enough to write a Tuareg-French and French-Tuareg dictionary, and to translate the Gospels into Tuareg. In 1905 he came to Tamanrasset, where he lived the rest of his life. A two-volume collection of Charles' Tuareg poetry was published after his death. <br /><br />In early 1909 he visited France and established an association of laypeople who pledged to live by the Gospels. His return to Tamanrasset was welcomed by the Tuareg. In 1915 Charles wrote to Louis Massignon: “The love of God, the love for one’s neighbor…All religion is found there…How to get to that point? Not in a day since it is perfection itself: it is the goal we must always aim for, which we must unceasingly try to reach and that we will only attain in heaven.”   <br /><br />The outbreak of World War I led to attacks on the French in Algeria. Seized in a raid by another tribe, Charles and two French soldiers coming to visit him were shot to death on December 1, 1916. <br />Five religious congregations, associations, and spiritual institutes (Little Brothers of Jesus, Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Little Sisters of Jesus, Little Brothers of the Gospel and Little Sisters of the Gospel) draw inspiration from the peaceful, largely hidden, yet hospitable life that characterized Charles. He was beatified on November 13, 2005. American Catholic Blog You know, O my God, I have never desired anything but to love you, and I am ambitious for no other glory.

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