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The Holy Spirit Among Us

We've finished our 5-part series on "Why Synodality?" and now welcome guest blogger Kari Campbell for the next two weeks. Kari is one of our tech wizards, as well as a catechetical leader, a full-time employee for the US Government and a mother of five!

When we think about the Holy Spirit and its manifestations, we tend to think of the flames above the heads of the disciples, a feeling of Enlightenment, or some unseen guiding force. But what do you think of when you think of the Holy Spirit in others? How do you recognize the Spirit’s voice, presence or movement? This seems important right now as our Church embarks on becoming synodal...that is, centering the voice of the Spirit in our decision-making and action plans.

Is it speaking in tongues or does it have some other sort of manifestation that is more obvious? So here’s what I think. I personally don't think the Holy Spirit is obvious at all. In fact, I sometimes envision it as a quiet whisper wanting to be heard, often drowned out by the day-to-day hubbub. Other times I think of the Holy Spirit as some sugared-up five year old, running in all directions and demanding attention, but oh-so-hard to understand. As you can tell, I’m all over the place about how the Spirit manifests itself, which, now that I think about it, is probably accurate. To box in the Spirit seems contrary to the idea that it blows where it will.

My mind is on the Holy Spirit because my son was confirmed this past Pentecost. That started me wondering exactly how the Spirit works. What is it? How do we see it? Is it always there? How do we know that what we hear is the Holy Spirit versus our own unspoken wants, perspectives, biases or fears? So many questions.

I often asked my son where he might like to serve after Confirmation - which ministry is calling him (sadly, we have no baseball ministry). I wonder if he has been invited by the various ministries to join, or if he has been talked to and encouraged to join an area of interest after he receives Confirmation? I can honestly say that I don't see very many of our older parishioners reaching out and trying to engage our young people, not just our Confirmation class but even as young as First Holy Communion. We look at First Holy Communion and Confirmation as huge and exciting times for our children: families celebrate it, religious education celebrates it, and the parish celebrates it. But here's my question:

When do parish ministries come forward and say "Come join us!" or "Can you help me?" or "Would you like to learn what we do?" Where and when does that happen? I’m curious, “Does it happen in your parish?” Comment on this blog and let me know. I’m looking for insight into how to make space for the young to learn and serve, to discover the Holy Spirit within, around and among them. I suspect that larger parishes don't have this issue, but small parishes (like mine) struggle to run various ministries, let alone get teens or children involved. Here’s my only insight so far: if you do struggle with involving the younger generations, perhaps simply invite your youth to “Come and see” and then to really take part and join in the many workings of the church ministries. Let that newly animated Holy Spirit flow through them to you and the ministry you serve! And allow them to see that same Spirit within you and as a result of your ministry.

As I keep thinking about this, I also wonder if the Holy Spirit walks among us so much that we have become immune to its voice. Are we, in essence, ignoring the Holy Spirit as it strives to work within us? Are we deaf to its voices, whisperings or nudges?

Are we recognizing the greatness that is in each and every one of us? What does the presence of the Holy Spirit look like in our youth? They're called to "be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit nd to" become an active member of the church. But what does that mean, and what does that mean for us 'older' members?

I want you, my dear reader, to stop and think about the various ministries that don't allow the young adults/teens to participate (yes I'm picking on them, we all have them or have seen them). Young people are not invited to participate (or are outright excluded) because someone doesn't like their views, considers them too young to understand, or perhaps they don't like change (after all, if it's not broke, don't fix it). So, exactly how are our confirmands supposed to find their place? I continue these ponderings in Part 2 of read on! And thanks again for letting me know how the ministries in your parish are making a "preferential option for the young."

Image: Part of an original painting done for the Pentecost Vigil Project by Jerry Duenas. See his work here.

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