The domestic church is like an enclosed garden; a planned space
for the cultivation, nurture and care of the family.
The present is the only chance to build our family as a domestic church.
We were incredulous that our guest gave us a most unusual gift on Thanksgiving Day. Hosting international students to join our family in celebrating this American holiday, we usually receive gifts such as foreign candy, trinkets, scarves, and even a stuffed camel with actual camel hair. We were surprised to receive from one of them a shower head with a hose! We politely thanked our guest and wondered how he came up with the choice of this gift - who does that? We shared many laughs with family members at receiving a piece of household hardware. It was one of those things that make for interesting conversation and filed in the funny family memories. However, two days before Christmas, our shower head cracked - causing water to spray in numerous crazy directions all over the bathroom!
Open to the Holy Spirit
Many times, we turn to God when the heat of the noon day sun beats on our hearts or the raging waters sweep us away. We silently pray and earnestly ask for the gifts that we already received but have left on a shelf un-used. The Holy Spirit who is our Teacher, Comforter, and Helper not only dwells in us but the gifts of the Holy Spirit have been bestowed on us, particularly when we received the Sacrament of Confirmation. For most of us, these gifts of the Holy Spirit remain as noble words but play no active role in our daily lives: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, fear of God. These gifts of the Holy Spirit, known as sanctifying gifts, are characteristics of Jesus that He manifests in their perfection and that He freely shares with His body, the Church. If we are open to the work of the Holy Spirit within us, these gifts come to bear not only in having the "power" to live the demands of a holy Christian life but they also equip us in our relationships, especially in our marriage and family. In effect, they are given to us so we can become like Jesus and love like He loves. Let us waken to the presence of the Holy Spirit in us and use the gifts which are lavished on us.
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Let us ask the Holy Spirit everyday to stir up in us His gifts to be active in our relationships. How many times are we called to respond to our spouse and be at a loss as to what to do? "Lord, give me the wisdom. I ask for the ability to judge this situation rightly and act according to Your truth." How many times do we face an immediate situation and not know the possible consequences of our decision? "Lord, give me the understanding to penetrate beyond the surface and see what is at the heart of this situation." Everyday, we parent our children of varying personalities in different stages of development, "Lord, I ask for counsel, direct me in this particular matter so that it moves my child towards You." As Christian spouses and parents, we know what is the will of God in many situations, but we feel weak to follow through because of our own frailty or the influence of others. "Lord, give me the fortitude, the firmness to do good and to avoid evil." Many conflicting and confusing messages assail us and our family to obscure the Christian message. "Lord, help me, my spouse and our children to know the right path and not wander from it." When the world teaches us and our children to elevate ourselves and our own choices, we pray, "Lord, give us the gifts of piety and fear of the Lord that we may worship you above all else, honor you with our lives and obey your teachings that bring life."
Use the Gifts
". . . and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us." (Romans 5:5)
When we are docile to the Holy Spirit and use the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially in our relationships, they do not remain on the shelf as spiritual gifts, but they become incarnated in our words and actions and bear fruit in our relationships. A gift is activated when it is used for what it was designed. Although we enjoyed the shower head as a conversation piece, our family appreciates it more for showers.