Thursday, September 15, 2011

Where is the Spirit?

The last two days, Br. Joe, Br. Craig and myself, took some time to go to Nashville for prayer and reflection on what is happening in Union and Grainger Counties.  Fr. Wil Stienbacher, long time Glenmary missioner guided us in this reflection.

Even through Br. Craig and I have only been here for thirty days, and as Br. Joe says, he was here for barely thirty hours, it was still time to take a moment for deep reflection.  One of the truths is that no body brings Jesus anywhere.  Jesus is already present everywhere before anyone arrives.  Therefore, one of the early tasks is to pause enough so our eyes, ears and hearts can be open enough to perceive how Christ is already working through the Holy Spirit here in Union and Grainger Counties. 
The view from our front door.  The Spirit of God is in the beauty.

To gain this insight, we have to acknowledge our biases, our prejudices and  preferences, and seek the signs of the fruits of the Spirit.  One guide for this is from Paul's letter to the Galatians "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." (5:22).  In the anti-drug March on Sunday, August 21 and last Sunday's prayer in the court house for grandparents days, the Spirit was singing.  The communal style of prayer, where everyone prays at once out loud at the same time, was different from other communal prayer experiences, but the fervour and the desire was uplifting.

In our local gatherings of the Catholics, now both in Union and Grainger Counties, we have heard stories of faith, of struggle and of belief.  Many have expressed our coming here to begin a Catholic Church in Maynardville and in Rutledge as answers to long offered prayers.

In the various social agencies we have touch based with, a care for the poor and those on the edge of life is present.  God's grace is already here.  Our task is to discover it, embrace it, nurture it, and go with it.  Yet, that all takes discernment and prayer.  In the midst of the Holy Spirit blowing over these counties, the reality of sin also exists.

In the guidelines of service as written by Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI, states, "Don't be afraid to smash idols and don't be afraid to bow in reverence!!"  There are idols of false worship in all places also.  The sins of each of us three missioners can limit the Spirit's work.  The sin in the Catholics and other Christians can hinder the clarity of God's love around us.  Social sins often are left unconfronted because we are part of the social fabric that creates them. This prevents the reign of God emerging more clearly.  However, before idols can be smashed or altars be reverenced, we need the wisdom of the Holy Spirit and the eyes of God which can only come from prayer and discernment.

Therefore these last two days began opening us up to be more reflective, prayerful and discerning about God's presence within us and around us, before us and behind us.  The Lord has put much in motion.

The Spirit is flowing all ov'r this land.
The Union and North Grainger counties are meeting in mission teams searching for rental property, developing prayer ministries, seeking membership promotion and considering resource potential.  Our next Mass and Meeting will be September 22.  Grainger County (Rutledge) met Monday with 32 in attendance.  They will meet again Saturday, September 17 one hour before the Spanish Mass there.  All of this are signs of God's grace.  Yet, each step requires prayer and discernment.

The Spirit is here.  May we be open enough to allow her to guide us.

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