Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
February 9, 2004
Come Holy Spirit, heal our land
Perhaps the greatest need in our world today is for a spiritual awakening. And such an awakening can only come through an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Our problems are manifold. In Canada alone, more than 100,000 unborn babies are being killed every year. There is rampant divorce, with all the lasting hurt that means for the children of those marriages. There is the pit into which aboriginal people have been thrown and from which there appears no escape. There is poverty and waste of human potential. There is the pillage of the environment and looming shortages of fossil fuels and other resources. There is the impending desecration of the family through same-sex "marriage." There are new diseases and a growing inability to pay for health care. There is a worship of material things, and ignorance and downgrading of things of the spirit.
The problems are enormous, with no solution in sight, and they cry out to heaven for justice. They are all human problems, but they are also problems of the spirit. And what are we mere mortals to do?
Our time is not unlike that of the great Hebrew prophets, the time of exile. The people had abandoned God and finally they had been torn out of their country and taken to a foreign land. Hope was in short supply.
In this situation, the prophet Ezekiel had a vision of God putting him down on a plain with a countless number of dry bones. And God commanded him to prophesy: "O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord: 'I will put breath into you and you shall live. I will fasten sinews on you, bring flesh upon you, overlay you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord'" (37:4-6).
The bones came together and rose to their feet. And the Lord promised to put his spirit into them and restore them to their own soil. The exile lasted for decades, but eventually the Lord brought the people back to their home.
And what would be the signs of our being restored to our own soil? The first would be a new vision of God's glory. We would see a profound increase in reverence for the greatness of God, such as through Eucharistic adoration. Second, that reverence would create a greater awareness of our sin and the harm it does. The confessional would no longer be neglected, but rather people would flock to the sacrament of Reconciliation.
Third, there would be a new appreciation in society for faith and repentance. Many would come to or return to the Church. Fourth, the spirit of criticism and complaint, so widespread in our society, would be replaced by a spirit of rejoicing. Fifth, the faithful would be aware of their responsibility for spreading the Good News to the ends of the earth. Sixth, ecumenical cooperation would flourish. Christians would act on their unity in the Spirit.
Seventh, truth, not relativism, would be the driving force of society. We would see an end to repressive tolerance and a new respect for the doctrines of the Church and for moral truth. Eighth, there would be an abiding social concern, inspired by love and solidarity, for righting the injustices of society.
Such a return to our soil, to the soil of human flourishing, cannot come about through our own initiative. It requires the grace of God. Our role is to pray for that grace, to beg God to send his Spirit and renew the face of the earth.
Our history is that of a people who relied on a spiritual elite to lead the way. But Vatican II said that is a false way. The truth is that all the baptized are holy and called to holiness. We need to grow together. The role of the laity is to permeate the world with the spirit of the Gospel.
Vatican II was prophetic on that score. We need the priestly, prophetic and kingly laity to implore the Holy Spirit to come heal our land. Oh, Holy Spirit, place us in God's good soil and bring us to the fullness of life.
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