Wednesday, 16 July 2008

World Youth Day: "Called to live in the Spirit"

The young people gathered in Sydney for World Youth Day meet on Wednesday morning for the first of three sessions of catechesis. These sessions consist of a time of worship, a catechesis with questions/answers given by a bishop and finish with the celebration of Mass. The theme for the Tuesday catechesis is "Called to live in the Spirit".

For our "first Friday" Adoration at the beginning of this month, I used the three themes of the WYD catecheses. I will publish the notes of these catecheses each day to accompany the catecheses in Sydney.

Scripture Readings
Luke 1:26-35

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end." And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?" And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.

Acts 2: 1-4
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

At the beginning of the Gospel (ie the book that tells the story of Jesus life on earth): the Holy Spirit comes upon the Virgin Mary and empowers her to conceive the Son.

At the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles (ie the book that tells the story of the beginning of the Church on earth): the Holy Spirit empowers the Apostles to preach the Christian message, and make the Church/Body of Christ present on earth

The Holy Spirit is present at the beginning of the two key phases in the presence of Christ on earth, his Incarnation and his presence in the mystical body of the Church

As Christians, we are called to live in the Holy Spirit. How do we experience this call in our lives?

The Sacraments of initiation:

Baptism: calls us to live the life of grace, of the Spirit
Confirmation: when we receive particularly the gift of the Holy Spirit
The Eucharist: when the Spirit brings us into communion with the Son in Holy Communion

During our time of silent prayer, we ask that we might answer the call of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We pray that we will be faithful to his gifts received in Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist.

[Two Accounts of the baptism of St Edith Stein]

Edith Stein spent New Year’s Eve (1921-1922) in prayer. On New Year’s Day 1922, at age 30, she received holy baptism in the parish church of Bergzabern and her first holy communion. She wore her Protestant friend Hedwig Conrad-Martius’s wedding cloak, and Hedwig also acted as her God mother. Father Breitling invited everyone to a celebration afterwards. For all participants the day remained unforgettable. Only the day of Edith’s clothing ceremony in the Cologne Carmel equalled the day of her baptism in splendour and happiness. Hedwig Conrad-Martius, who on that day stood by Edith too, writes: “Edith had always had something childlike in her nature, but the childlike joy, and sense of security she had now achieved, were, if I may say so, enchanting”.

[Nikolas Lauer “Edith Stein: remembering a colleague” in Never Forget pp.95-97]

Hedwig Conrad-Martius describes a certain privacy that was a feature of her very close friendship with Edith Stein, such that Edith was to say to Hedwig about her conversion to the Catholic faith “That is my secret”.

“This tension did not trouble the profound sense of community that united us: the test of this was when, at the request of Edith and with the permission of the bishop, I was chosen as god mother for her baptism, something I agreed to do with joy. The day of her baptism she wore my wedding cloak - there was inflation and you could not buy anything. I followed here closely towards the altar. Years later I was present at her clothing in the Carmel of Cologne and after the ceremony I was able to talk with her at length through the grill ….

“Edith always had, by her nature, a childlike soul and a friendly attitude. But the spirit of childhood, the spontaneous joy and the feeling of being certain that she had now gained, was, if I can speak of it like this, an enchantment. The double meaning of the wonderful word grace - freely given gift and charm or delight in a human sense- were here joined together.”
[Hedwig Conrad-Martius “Edith Stein” in Archives de Philosphie (1959) XXII No.2 pp.163-174. My own translation from French]

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