Sunday, May 24, 2015

About That Third Person of the Trinity....

Over the years, I haven't had much inclination to pray to the Holy Spirit or particular awareness of the Spirit's presence. I have generally favored prayer to the Father, or to the Son because he seems more accessible. The Spirit was just kind of out there for me. Real, yet abstract, distant. Lately, however, it's been different.

Last fall, I experienced the Called & Gifted process from Siena Institute, and my relationship with the Spirit changed dramatically. I became acutely aware of where the Spirit has been active in my life. In the discernment of my charisms and what they mean, I have learned that the Spirit has been actively calling me to the various ways in which I serve through those gifts. There are, as I had always suspected, no coincidences.

Unsurprisingly, when I took the Spiritual Gifts Inventory, I learned my dominant charisms are Music, Teaching and Writing. However, in the weeks after my interview, some things opened up for me. It became clear that the moments when I heard an unmistakable voice leading me toward change and growth were of the Spirit.

Yes, I have heard the Spirit speak. Twice. Let me tell you about these moments, as evidence that the Spirit can communicate to position us where we are called to use our charisms.

The first incident was when I found myself, a Catholic for less than three years, at a national meeting of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions. Looking around the room at the professional liturgists and bishops present, I asked myself,  "What am I doing here?"  Immediately, the response came: "Because you can do this."  I responded by entering a degree program to learn more about what "this" was and to equip myself to do it. The "this" was ministry...

The second time occurred after I had been searching unsuccessfully for several years for a full-time position in ministry. At that point, I had been serving as part-time liturgy coordinator at my parish, while my day job was mostly clerical. I also had a writing job on the side for the local paper. I was restless with the patchwork of putting together three jobs to make a living - and not fully using my talents.

Over the summer, I began hearing a distinct voice in my head: "Bloom where you're planted." I was puzzled as to why this thought kept coming to me. In the fall, I made my Cursillo and during the communal penance service, on the way back to my seat after my confession I once again heard that annoying mantra: "Bloom where you're planted." This time I pushed back: "I can't bloom where I'm planted.Lord. I HATE where I'm planted!"The response was immediate and surprising: "Then, plant yourself where you can bloom!" I had never thought about leaving town. The job search led to a dual position as director of religious education and liturgy in a parish where I was a total stranger.

Over the years since those events, my progress in ministry has been more event-driven, but I learned to see the workings of God in occurrences that forced me to change or grow. I have been recently much more aware that recent requests for me to write and teach are part of the Spirit's plan for use of those charisms. (I have always shared my singing in parish and diocesan settings, because I have known for a long time that since I was born on St. Cecilia's day, the gift of my voice was God's plan and needed to be shared for God's glory and the good of his people, not to elevate me.)

Looking back, I now know that the voice I heard was that of the Spirit, because these events were clearly connected with my vocation to use my charisms to serve others. Called & Gifted made that very clear to me. As to writing and teaching, the C & G experience changed things for me in ways I never expected. I now have a greater clarity about why I have been given these gifts - and as to why, of late, writing and teaching opportunities have come to me without me looking for them. I also find a great renewal of energy to write and teach.  The Spirit gave these charisms and the Spirit continues to lead me in using them to build up the Church.

I pray that others whose charisms have not been activated may come to understand where the Spirit is directing them. The Holy Spirit is indeed "the giver of life" - a life filled with abundance of joy in using one's charisms to serve.

Come, Holy Spirit! Fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love!


  1. Joyce, thanks for sharing your story - how appropriate for the feast of Pentecost , it's wonderful to see how you're using your charisms. Inspired!

  2. Thanks, Suzanne. I think it's important for people to see what this can look like, although we know it's different for every person. Called & Gifted helped me understand why these things have happened to me. I cannot say enough about its usefulness.