Chasing the Spirit: A Letter to the Catholic Exchange Community #5

“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit”  (John 3:8).

Catholic Exchange wishes everyone a blessed Holy Week.  May this Easter be filled with the joy and power of Christ’s resurrection.

Catholic Exchange’s President, Harold Fickett, is keeping a Holy Week Journal at The Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia.  Here are a few highlights:

Augustine pointed out that the best way to think of how God experiences time is probably as an eternal present — the whole of universal history exists before him at once.  Time-past and time-future are both time-present. The liturgical year conveys this eternal perspective; initiate us into this dimension.  That’s why we re-enact the drama of Christ’s Passion each year, pretending when we hold high our palm branches on Palm Sunday, that we don’t know the drama’s outcome.  Because from the eternal perspective, Christ is always being crucified and always rising again.  Christ was sacrificed “once and for all,” as the Apostle writes, but from the perspective of eternity — in that eternal now — Jesus is also continually offered for the life of the world.  He continually conquers death so that we might rise with him.


Again, though, why was I so uneasy starting out for the monastery?  I came up with the idea of keeping this journal, mostly, I believe, because I wanted to put myself on the line.  I wanted to seek after God in a new way through this retreat, and I know writing about things helps me concentrate.  Concentrating on God, however, is a risky proposition.  There’s a reason at every angelic appearance in the Bible the angel always says, “Fear not.” I hope God has something in particular for me to learn here this week.  And, at the same time, I hope he doesn’t.


For about two years — just before the economic crisis hit and the financial wobbles began — I was keeping a regular morning hour before the Eucharist.  I devoted most of this to reading morning prayer and the Bible, but I reserved some time as well for silence.  I’d just say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening,” and try to stay quiet before the Lord. I never felt anything in particular, but I did notice that people began responding to me differently.  People I knew only casually started being more open with me. In turn, I figured out that the first — and sometimes the last — part of witness is caring.  I could be an “evangelical Catholic” by loving others and letting God attend to their souls.


Stories of betrayal — from Adam and Eve and ever after — repeat themselves in the Scriptures and in all of our lives as well.  As I prepare to go to Confession, I’m thinking of the ways I conspire against God’s rule in my life and refuse Christ’s love.  I would like to think that all of this is only the cravenness of Peter — the human instinct for self-preservation.  When I look hard at my life, though, I have to admit that sometimes I’m as “shrewd” as Judas, clinging to my own views of how a Messiah ought to behave and what He should require.   I hedge my commitments when I think I have a better plan.  This is not pretty.  And it’s the grief and sorrow I bear into the Confessional with me on too many occasions.

If you would like to follow Harold’s journal through the week, go here.

As we move to the end of this Holy Week, we will continue to bring you soul-stirring reflections on the meaning of these, our Christian High Holy Days by the fine Catholic authors you expect to read on CE.  And we have even sprinkled a few great classic and too-seldom heard hymns reflecting on Christ’s passion around our site.  In case you have missed them here are some links:

And Can It Be? (Amazing Love)

What Wondrous Love is This?

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

O Sacred Head Now Wounded

May the words of these songs and the reflections by our writers, along with the liturgy in your parish, help you accompany Christ to Gethsemane, to Golgotha and finally to the glory of a most…

Happy Easter!

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