FAITH AND CULTURE | Commissioned in the Spirit

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In the United States, society places a premium on the ability to get things done in a timely fashion. This pragmatic way of being permeates many aspects of our personal and professional lives. In short, we are individually and collectively accustomed to moving with intent and resolve.

In our personal interactions, we plan family gatherings, events, vacations and even our end-of-life directives. We dread the idea of hosting significant events without taking care of everything — our meticulousness is often such that what ought to be a joyful occasion ends up causing undue stress. Gone are the days when neighbors and friends stroll down the block and knock on doors, unannounced.

And in our professional lives, this practical approach to life takes on even greater urgency. We are expected to be tactful, strategic and purposeful in undertakings. More and more, we are encouraged to be diligent and are rewarded for being efficient and productive in work projects. Consequently, we spend a great amount of time making sure our work reflects clear, timely and measurable outcomes — at the end of the day, we learn to multitask and do whatever it takes to make it happen.

This penchant for a spirit of efficiency and productivity in our culture and society has served us well. While there may be moments of stress associated with it, overall we seem to thrive on it and are generally content. Even in some of our darkest moments, we manage to rise up and move forward with trust.

This same spirit of resilience, movement, optimism and boldness manifests itself in our faith life. As a community of faith, we are heirs to a Spirit that not only summons us to wholeness and community (Genesis 1:2; Ephesians 4: 4-6), but also enables us to act with confidence (2 Corinthians 5:5-6). We know that each one of us has been equipped with the necessary graces to bring about God's work of building up those around us, especially the poor (Ephesians 4: 11-14).

Furthermore, we know in faith that the Spirit moving us forward is capable of accomplishing great things in us: "For this reason, I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you ... for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline" (2 Timothy 1: 6-7).

As Catholics, we readily look at our work and realize how much we have been gifted. Our Catholic tradition is full of holy men and women who have gone before us, modeling the way of power, love and tenacious discipline. In our own country, Catholic missionaries and immigrants were instrumental in building hospitals, schools and other service agencies still with us today. In fact, many of our thriving academic, social and health systems trace their origins to visionary communities of religious men and women who generously gave of themselves, often at great personal sacrifice.

Indeed, knowing that God didn't give us a spirit of cowardice has great power to move us in our own time. While division and discourse seems all too common, it's significant to remember and reconnect to this unifying Spirit that is ours in faith: "Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us" (2 Timothy 1: 14).

Let us not forget that ours is the Spirit of boldness, commissioning us to proclaim and build the Kingdom of God, summoning the best of our human abilities and compelling us to make no small plans. Like those before us, we are invited to image new possible worlds and to enact them into existence with confidence, trust and resolve.

Orozco is executive director of Intercultural and Interreligious Affairs for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. 

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