After celebrating the liturgical seasons of Lent and Easter in unprecedented lockdown, the Church resumes Ordinary Time. However, life as we are presently experiencing it is anything but ordinary.
People talk about “this time” without speaking the words coronavirus, pandemic or Covid-19. We check on family and friends to see how they are doing during “this time.” We wonder what life will be when “this time” has passed.
Pope Francis asks that we not waste this time, challenging us to make it a time of spiritual growth—a fruitful time.
Each year between Ascension and Pentecost, our community awaits the coming of the Holy Spirit with a Pentecost retreat. As the apostles and Jesus’ mother Mary, along with women and men disciples, gathered in the upper room following the Lord’s Ascension, each year we too prayerfully await the Spirit’s coming anew into our hearts and world.
During Pentecost retreat this year of the pandemic, I found myself pondering the twelve Fruits of the Spirit: Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Generosity, Gentleness, Faithfulness, Modesty, Self-control, Chastity. Imagine a world where our thoughts and actions are guided by the fruits of the Holy Spirit. I feel these virtues offer a blueprint for personal transformation, a standard of living as we make our way into a new time, post Covid-19.
We have witnessed countless examples of the fruits of the Spirit in action: people caring for one another, reaching out with helping hands and open hearts in empathy, kindness and respect; adults and children dancing, singing, laughing and bringing joy to others, not allowing human suffering, despair and boredom to stifle their spirits in the face of this mysterious virus.
Might God be calling us to something greater than merely “getting through this time”? Each day there are opportunities to create a world where strangers become neighbors and neighbors become friends, a world where I discover in “the other” actions and feelings very much like my own.
Growing into a new time calls for conscious willing, effort and risk. Practicing the fruits of the Holy Spirit in everyday life, by reaching out to one person at a time, allows the love and mercy of God to permeate our world. The fiercest virus is no match for the spread of God’s love.
We have read the Acts of the Apostles during the Easter season. The Acts recount the story of Christianity’s beginnings. The exhilaration of the Spirit’s coming at Pentecost was followed by conflict, persecution, strained relationships and the pangs of growth. But Jesus’ apostles and disciples were changed. They became passionate witnesses, leaving us a glimpse of what is possible when the doors of our hearts and minds are opened and our actions guided by the fruits of Jesus’ Spirit. Behold, I am doing something new—do you not see it?