Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Holy Spirit and Babies

I was driving to give a talk a couple of weeks ago on Marriage, Family, and the Sacraments, praying and preparing as the road zoomed below. I was pondering on just how these three things relate when I got zapped by the following thought...

Catholics say every Sunday in the Apostle's Creed that the Holy Spirit "proceeds from the Father and the Son." The Holy Spirit is the Eternal Fruit of the Love-Gift between the two Divine Persons of the Father and the Son. 

Whoa... If that sounds way too abstract, Augustine in the fourth century gave us a helpful image in saying that the Divine Love in the Trinity is "enfleshed" in the human love of Lover, Beloved, and the Love between the two. This image blossoms beautifully in Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body in our own time. Stay with me friends while I try and work this out!

The Father loves the Son eternally. The Son receives that Love forever, and forever returns that Love. Since the Gift of Love is Eternal, the Fruit of that Love is in itself Eternal! In fact, it is a whole and distinct Person! The Holy Spirit. Anyone ever in love can attest to this Third Party, this seemingly separate and distinct ocean of Love in which the Two suddenly find themselves immersed in right up to their hearts. In vernacular terms, and here quoting Schoolhouse Rock "A man and a woman had a little baby.... yes they did. They had Three-ee-ee in the family. That's a magic number."

Now to get to the thought that zapped me on the turnpike heading west... The Holy Spirit, the Eternal Fruit of the Love between the Father and Son, we believe, is God operating in our hearts, moving us, inspiring us to Love, and Goodness, and Beauty, because that's what Love does. The Holy Spirit makes us holy, if we allow Him into our hearts, minds, and bodiesJust so, the Fruit of the Love of the earthly Lover and Beloved (baby!) makes us holy. Babies are like the Holy Spirit.... in the flesh! THAT'S IT! Huh?

A child coming forth from the beloved and the lover, a husband and wife, becomes the operative agent in our hearts, making us holy and whole. Children, like the Holy Spirit, break us and remake us. They bring us out of ourselves, they push us out into the deep where we never thought we could go, and they are the "occasion of grace" that can make us saints. 

So the new revelation in the spiritual life of our little family is to say "Come Holy Spirit! Speak to us, Your servants are listening" as we discern in the cries, laughter, smiles, gurgles, giggles, and yes, the poopie diapers of this domestic church, just what is the Holy Spirit of our children teaching us? 

For the family, holiness and the path to perfection are ever-present. The bells of the monasteries summoning us to prayer are the bellows of the baby crying out "Change me Dada!" And shouldn't my prayer to God be the very same thing? "Come Holy Spirit! Change me!"

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