Last week I read a reflection from the Constitution on the Church in preparation for today’s feast of Pentecost. There was a line there I had not noticed before: The Holy Spirit “enables the Church to grow young…” That’s a great thought. Every year we notice the aging process in ourselves. We can’t move as fast or jump as high. The mind lets us down and we think we don’t look as good as we did just a few years ago.
The offer of a recipe for youth is very attractive. The answer is not to be found in face creams, exercise and hair colour. The key to ‘growing young’ is found in life in harmony with the Spirit of God. This is what keeps the human heart beating young.
We don’t have to believe this simply because the Constitution tells us. A simple experiment will give a more personal experience of the life that is on offer.
- Set one week in which you seek to live in harmony with all you know God to be asking of you. (much of this will have come to you through the gospels and the teachings of the church. Some of these teachings you may struggle or even disagree with. Whatever, for one week, just do it!)
- We know that prayer is an essential relationship in the life of the Christian. Notice that I call prayer a relationship. Prayer is not the reciting of incantations in order to please and appease God. Prayer is awareness of my desire to be connected to God. Sometimes this desire is expressed in formal prayers and spoken or silent expression. At other times I am just aware of my hunger and longing for God. This fundamental human need for prayer is the most significant mark of our healthy humanity. This is good news for the person who is struggling and who knows their weakness. It is a bit of a challenge for the person who thinks they are doing pretty well on their own! As a part of your week, set regular time for prayer. Ten minutes morning and evening. One minute every time the traffic light turns red. Two minutes during the tv ads…
- If you suspect God might be seeking change your behaviour in some way, then commit to making this change – at least for one week. For example we know that Jesus taught us to love our enemy. This is a bit of a challenge since my enemies do not deserve my love. But, for a week try it! Think of the teaching of Jesus and the Church on care for the needy, justice and honesty, sexuality…
- There are many other challenges that the Gospel and scriptures put before us. These are communicated with more explanation in the teaching of the Church. It is common for Catholic’s to treat these teachings as a smorgasboard of suggestions and to live only those that come most easily. The invitation of this Pentecost feast is to put yourself, one hundred percent, in the upper room of waiting. When the disciples did this, their main motivation was fear. That’s a good enough reason to open up to God. Perhaps you have a fear of growing old, and sickness and death? The Holy Spirit is waiting to grow you young.
- At the end of your week (or at bedtime on day two if that is all you can manage), ask yourself if you are more happy with yourself than you were a week ago. If you are happier, then keep the rhythm of life you have set going for another week. God created us to be happy, and the Spirit if given to us to enable us to live happily, and to give us eternal youth.