When stay-at-home orders were first announced and politicians announced what were essential businesses and what weren’t, I had a lot of questions. In my specific view of the world, I disagreed with some of the businesses they deemed “essential”.
One of the businesses I was confused by was landscapers. When no one is going out, why does your lawn need to be perfectly manicured? Even with all of my confusion, I will admit this, I definitely appreciated that they kept working.
I have been cooped up in my apartment day in and day out. The only time I leave my apartment is for my daily walk around my neighborhood. On this walk, there are the most beautiful flowers outside each apartment complex. I am so very thankful for each and every one of those flowers, and every hard-working landscaper who put them there. Here are just a few.
As I wander the neighborhood and admire the beautiful bright colors of each flower, I am not even admiring all that there is to see. This is because humans can only see in the “visible spectrum” of light, but the full spectrum of light includes much more.
Even though humans can’t see the full spectrum, some creatures see different parts of it than we do. For instance, insects can see ultraviolet light (UV). They use this ability to see parts of those beautiful flowers that I can’t see.
Plants want their pollen to be spread around, so in order to make it easier for insects to do so, plants broadcast secret messages in UV. These messages, unseen to the human eye, tell insects how to spot the nectar, where the pollen is, or are landing strips showing how to approach the flower.
Isn’t that cool? Something that we can’t see, but that keeps our ecosystem going. It keeps life going.
This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday. This feast celebrates the day that the Holy Spirit came down in the form of flaming tongues to the Apostles. On that one day the Holy Spirit was VERY visible, but the Holy Spirit is not as physically visible to us today as the flaming tongues back then.
When Jesus was preparing to leave, He spoke of an “Advocate” that he will be sending in His place once He leaves.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you.” (John 14:15-17)
Jesus tells the disciples that the world cannot see it, but that we will know it because it is a part of us. This is exactly what the Catholic Church teaches about the sacrament of Confirmation. (I’ve been working on my church’s curriculum, so it’s on the brain!)
The sacrament of Confirmation is the final sacrament of initiation. This rite declares the confirmand a full adult member of the Catholic faith. During the sacrament, the confirmandi are sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. At the time of Confirmation there are no flaming tongues that appear above their heads, but the Holy Spirit is present, it is now forever a part of them through the gifts that it imparts.
The 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit that are given are:
These gifts are unseen. They do not come wrapped with a bow, but they are with you forever. You now have the ability to grow even stronger in these gifts thanks to the invisible assistance of “the Advocate”.
Yes, I said grow. When you are confirmed it doesn’t mean that you’re instantly an expert. You may be gifted with the gift of Knowledge, but that doesn’t mean that at the MOMENT of confirmation you now know EVERYTHING. It is something you must continue to work at, but the Holy Spirit is always there to help you on that journey. What gift do you want to grow in?
The Holy Spirit is unseen, but the Church teaches us that it guides us towards the choices that bring us life, specifically life eternal. Just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. There are many things all around us that we can’t see, flower coloring or the Holy Spirit, but they are working to keep life blooming all around us.