September 01, 2012

MISSION MATTERS: Gifts of the Spirit

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Last week, we gathered at the University Mass of the Holy Spirit to pray that God will bless all our efforts this academic year. The Mass of the Holy Spirit has a rich and long tradition throughout western culture. It is a time when we ask God to send down His Spirit to give us all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, traditionally wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, courage, reverence and hope.

If we recall that our Mission is the pursuit of truth for the greater glory of God and for the service of humanity, we can see that the first four gifts of the Holy Spirit are necessary. We all need wisdom, understanding, knowledge and counsel to continue to find the truth in all the many ways that are part of Saint Louis University. We have each been given some degree of these gifts, but all of us know we can still use more of each gift to help us advance during this coming year, throughout our lives.

We also know that each of us can be more courageous in the way we allow our gifts to give glory to God and to serve others. We all could use more help to take the risks it takes to advance in all the other gifts. It is not always easy or comfortable for us to step outside our routine, or what we know, to find new opportunities to learn or to serve, each other and all others.

Each of us also needs God's help to find reverence for ourselves and others. Sometimes we need help to see ourselves in a light other than what we normally use to judge ourselves. Likewise, we need help to see others not the light of our own dim view of people, but to see them as gifts God has given us.

Finally, hope is the real gift of our time. Sometimes newspapers, TV, the radio and the Internet are full of items which make it very hard to have hope. We all need help see beyond the works of this world and see into the good promised to us.

Most of the time, we can see and understand that we — each and all — have some of these gifts to some extent. If we reflect about the way the SLU community has responded to bad situations this summer we can understand how these gifts have been used to glorify God and to help others, in deeds, not just in words. We can see how people gave of themselves and their gifts to comfort others in hard times. And we can all be proud to be part of that kind of community; it gives us hope that we can make our Mission more than just words.

Let us begin this academic year not only with prayers for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but also with the firm resolve that we will use these gifts in the ways we know we should. Let us resolve to help make all of us in the Saint Louis University community more caring and concerned for each other, by being more courageous in our own efforts to care for each other.

With this approach and appreciation of the gifts of the Spirit, each small act of ours which reflects those gifts will combine with similar acts of others, all of us working together to change our residence hall, our family, our classroom, our office, our campus, our city and our world.

And then we can all build a small part of the Kingdom of God in the world. A. M. D. G.

D. Highberger, SJ
P. Stark, SJ

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