Sunday, 6 January 2013
Father Ignatius was helping a few volunteers clearing out a storeroom deep in the basement of the church. It was dark and somewhat humid down there as well as dusty amongst the cobwebs that accumulated over the years.
The intention was to redecorate the basement, connect it to the mains electricity supply, and use the area reclaimed from years of neglect to more profitable use than just storage space for unwanted bits and pieces.
The helpers had brought with them extension cables and lit up the place a little. Slowly they took out old bits of furniture, wooden boxes full of books and other knick-knacks, church ornaments, statues and whatever else had been deposited there by previous generations.
Father Ignatius and an antique dealer friend started cataloguing the items as they were recovered from the bowels of the church in order to decide whether they were of any value and worth keeping, or whether they would be sold or got rid off.
“Rather musty in here,” commented one of the volunteers carrying a large vase.
“Creepy too … if you ask me,” complained another, “I wouldn’t be surprised if this place is haunted. Is there not an old crypt at the end of this corridor?”
“Boooo … hooo !!!!” moaned another helper eerily covering his head with an old blanket.
“Grow up George …” cried out Sonia.
“Are you having fun down there?” enquired Father Ignatius from the top of the stairs as he catalogued yet another candlestick.
“Hey Father … look what I’ve found down here,” replied Sonia coming up the stairs followed by the other helpers who needed a short break.
She carefully carried a large framed picture with the glass still intact. The wooden frame needed a little cleaning but otherwise it looked in reasonable condition. The helpers wiped the dirt from the frame and glass to reveal a brightly coloured painting of a dove flying high with rays of light or fire descending on a heart.
“Wow … this is beautiful,” said George.
“Isn’t it just …” said Sonia.
“It’s the Holy Spirit …” exclaimed Father Ignatius, “I wonder how long this has been down there.”
“Why is He depicted as a dove?” asked one of the volunteers, “and fire too … The Holy Spirit is a bit of an enigma I think.”
“I understand what you mean …” reflected Father Ignatius, “the Holy Spirit can seem an enigma to some …
“He appeared as a dove at Christ’s baptism, and as tongues of fire at Pentecost when He descended on the apostles.
“I suppose many people still misunderstand who the Holy Spirit is.
“We are taught about God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit …. He doesn’t seem to have a title or a description.
“It was St Hilary of Poitiers, a Bishop in the 3rd Century AD, who first described the Holy Spirit as ‘the gift’.
“He is the gift given to us by God after Jesus ascended into Heaven. He is the very Spirit of God Himself. His very soul come back to us on earth to dwell within us and to help us in our Christian life.
“That’s why He is sometimes referred to as the Helper, the Counselor, God’s own Being living within us.”
“God living within us …” repeated George.
“Yes …” said Father Ignatius, “can you imagine that? God. Living within us. Guiding us. Helping us. Teaching us. Advising us when to speak and when to remain silent. What to say and what to do.
“Isn’t that wonderful? Or is it too difficult to imagine or believe?
“Isn’t it a tragedy that these days many people are too willing to believe that the devil can possess an individual unwillingly and reap havoc in their lives; which of course is true.
“Yet … they find it difficult to understand that the Holy Spirit of God is willing to abide within us and lead us to an eternal better life in Heaven. And He only does so when we ask Him, when we invite Him in our hearts …
“All we have to do is believe … and ask Him.”
They reflected silently for a few seconds when eventually Sonia said “I think we should hang this picture prominently in church.”
“I agree …” replied Father Ignatius, “and it will give me an opportunity to talk about the Holy Spirit in my sermon this Sunday.”