We can learn a lot from Catholics who have gone before us and from those witnessing the faith today.
Take, for example, the Church Fathers, early teachers of the faith such as Sts. Clement, Justin and Augustine. They saw the dawning of the Church, when Catholics struggled with many of the same sins, temptations and societal issues we still face today.
The Holy Spirit guided them in teaching and preaching the faith to all. Before ascending into heaven and returning to the Father, Jesus promised to us the Holy Spirit, who, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, "comes to meet us and kindles the faith in us. By virtue of our baptism ... the Holy Spirit in the Church communicates to us, intimately and personally, the life that originates in the Father and is offered to us in the Son" (No. 683).
This is just one of dozens of citations about the Holy Spirit in the Catechism. Yet, the third person in the Holy Trinity remains elusive to many of us. Still, we would be wise to listen to him and let him guide us.
The Fathers of the Church often spoke of the Holy Spirit. OSV author Mike Aquilina, who writes in a guest column this week on Page 17 about how they were effective in youth and young-adult ministry during their day, includes this quote from Church Father Didymus the Blind in his book, "The Way of the Fathers" (OSV, $10.95): "The Holy Spirit is the plenitude of all gifts and nothing is given in the divinity without him, because all of the advantages that are received from the favor of God's gifts flow from this fountainhead."
Modern-day witnesses of the Holy Spirit's work abound if we just look around. We can find one example in the new DVD "Champions of Faith," where baseball stars speak out about the importance of their faith in their lives. OSV columnist Robert P. Lockwood reviews the film on Page 8 this week, just as the second half of the Major League Baseball season has revs up.
The players are using the gifts that God gave them to witness to his saving power. We may not all be professional baseball players but we are all still called to use the gifts -- or charisms --God gave us for the glory of the kingdom.
In this week's In Focus (Pages 9-12), author Ralph Martin gives the biblical and historical background on the charismatic rediscovery of the Church, rooted in the Holy Spirit. He also briefly examines the traditional charisms of the Holy Spirit such as prophecy, exhortation, teaching and generosity. In an accompanying piece, David Mangan gives pointers on how Catholics can discern their charisms, reminding that the gifts are not for us, but for those whom we serve.
God gives us all special gifts. Do you know what your gifts are and are you using them to build the kingdom?