You have seen us Catholics do it. Maybe it’s when an ambulance or fire truck go by with lights and siren on. Maybe it is at a restaurant just after the food is served. Some baseball players, like Dave Concepcion of the Big Red Machine in the ’70s, even make it before stepping into the batter’s box. Certainly you’ve seen us do it at Mass or at any liturgical service.
We make the sign of the cross when we pray and bless, usually both before and after, even though there is no rule or requirement to do so. Making the sign of the cross is a tradition traced back to the first centuries of Christianity. At that time, it seems Christians would make it on their foreheads, as Catholics do today at Mass before the proclamation of the Gospel.
This uniquely Christian gesture reminds us who God is, the mystery of the Trinity. I’d like to focus on one person of the Trinity, the person who is, in a sense, the glue of God: the Holy Spirit. Interestingly, I refer to glue quite often in ministry.
When couples come in for marriage preparation, at our second meeting, I ask them if they have ever used Gorilla Glue. Many of them have. They tell of how strong a bond it makes. It is advertised as “The toughest glue on the planet” and when not careful, I have ruined dress pants with it. As suggested by the manufacturer, when used with a little water on one of the objects to be bonded, it comes alive. A chemical reaction creates a foaming fluid which results in so tight bond that is nearly impossible to break.
What do the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, a married couple and glue have in common? Tight bonds, unity is their goal and reality.
We know one way to describe the Holy Spirit is to say that the Spirit is the love between Father and Son. This love is so awesome, powerful and glorious, that it proves to be another experience or another person of God. In other words, we experience the love, power and glory of God among us, in so many gifts and fruits, such as understanding, wisdom, fear of the Lord, love, joy, peace, patience and long-suffering. These gifts and fruits of the Spirit also foster powerful unities.
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit is the tight unity, among God’s very self, the Spirit also unifies the church, whether it be a diocese, a pastoral region or a parish church. When the Spirit is called upon and welcomed, the Spirit unites husband and wife into one, to be a sacrament, a real presence of Jesus among us. From the spiritual unity of spouses, the family is made one and becomes a “domestic church,” a little church in itself. There is another place to which the Holy Spirit brings great unity: our local communities
This time of year it is joy to see the Holy Spirit, the glue of God, at work in our communities through so many people. They cooperate with the Holy Spirit, uniting our communities and churches through yearly celebrations and festivals.
For example, after a year of behind-the-scenes preparation, Botkins Community Club members, village government and other leaders in Botkins and their families have been working more directly and tirelessly for weeks to complete preparations for the Botkins Carousel this weekend. From the fun and classy Carousel Queen Pageant to the parade and everything in between, the unity and joy of God is incarnated. Sure, the devil will try to divide and conquer by tempting some to overindulge, for example with too many brats or too much beer. However, with moderation and care, God’s very unity is strengthened in the community.
For those of us in Petersburg Parishes, north of Sidney, we begin with Carousel, move to Wapakoneta, St. Joseph’s Festival on July 4, and then round out the summer with St. John, Fryburg’s Homecoming, on Sept. 7 and St. Lawrence, Rhine’s, Turkey Shoot on Sept. 27.
Praise the Lord for so many leaders in our churches and communities! They are open to the Holy Spirit, the glue of God, inspiring them to work toward unity in our communities, one of the awesome attributes and goals of our Triune God!