Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XI, Issue XV

And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of G-d more perfectly." -- Acts 18:24-26

Charles fingered the book thoughtfully. This "Way" had inspired Fred to die for something... not a coerced death or a whipped up entering into the ways of a mob, but a reasoned decision that something was more precious to him than life itself! The Notes to Priscilla and Aquilla guides were indeed considered dangerous and subversive. Fred had surely paid the price for possessing one, but here it was. Charles was alone with the volume and though he believed it was dangerous, his curiosity gnawed at him. "Surely I am strong enough to resist blatant fallacy!" he reasoned. He knew he should turn the volume in to be burned... but he was alone.

The knowledge that Fred had found something larger here drew him onward."What, pray tell, was this 'More Perfect Way?'" Surely the Worldstate had a way more perfect than any profession of dogma... and if so, what was the contrasting thought that would help him recognize it? Trembling, he opened the little book.

The Seven Gifts of the Spirit, the book began. They were found in the old books of the Prophets:
The Gifts of the Spirit 

But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: A spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A spirit of counsel and of strength, A spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD (piety), And his delight shall be the fear of the LORD."
-- Isaiah 11:2,3a

Wisdom: It is the capacity to love spiritual things more than material ones;

Understanding: In understanding, we comprehend how we need to live as followers of Christ. A person with understanding is not confused by the conflicting messages in our culture about the right way to live. The gift of understanding perfects a person's speculative reason in the apprehension of truth. It is the gift whereby self-evident principles are known;

Counsel (right judgement): With the gift of counsel/right judgment, we know the difference between right and wrong, and we choose to do what is right. A person with right judgment avoids sin and lives out the values taught by Jesus;

Fortitude (courage): With the gift of fortitude/courage, we overcome our fear and are willing to take risks as a follower of Jesus Christ. A person with courage is willing to stand up for what is right in the sight of G-d, even if it means accepting rejection, verbal abuse, or physical harm. The gift of courage allows people the firmness of mind that is required both in doing good and in enduring evil;

Knowledge: With the gift of knowledge, we understand the meaning of G-d. The gift of knowledge is more than an accumulation of facts, it also helps us to choose the right path through life;

Piety (reverence): With the gift of piety/reverence, we have a deep sense of respect for G-d and the Church. A person with reverence recognizes our total reliance on G-d and comes before G-d with humility, trust, and love. Piety is the gift whereby, at the Holy Spirit's instigation, we pay worship and duty to G-d as our Father, Aquinas writes;

Fear of the Lord (wonder and awe): With the gift of fear of the Lord/wonder and awe, we are aware of the glory and majesty of G-d. A person with wonder and awe knows that G-d is the perfection of all we desire: perfect knowledge, perfect goodness, perfect power, and perfect love. This gift is described by Aquinas as a fear of separating oneself from G-d. He describes the gift as a "filial fear," like a child's fear of offending his father, rather than a "servile fear," that is, a fear of punishment. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."

The source of the traditional names of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Septuagint and the Vulgate read “piety” for “fear of the Lord” in its first occurrence, thus listing seven gifts."

Charles read eagerly.  In Galatians 5, there were also 'Fruits' of that same Spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."

But these were somehow 'subversive' and illegal? It seemed to Charles that any society propelled by such virtues would be a happy one indeed! Locking the door to his room, he read on. Sometime in the dawning hours of morning, he got to the handwritten notes in the end. The notes spoke of a dialogue with the Divine, there was a peace to be found there... unlike the heavy peace under the hand of Worldstate. "There is freedom here!" thought Charles. "It is a freedom created by timeless principles that guide the one who possesses them, not a peace imposed by oversight... unless one saw that reverence for the Divine was stronger than mere human oversight.

Charles carefully wrapped the little book in his clothes and secured it in his luggage. For now the promise seemed greater than the life he now lived. Joe's notes clearly pointed in that direction. Fred had added to the dialogue in his own hand as well. His notes were brief, but honest. Charles knew his friend well enough to see that. Perhaps he too would find the courage to pray, as suggested. Perhaps he would have to pay the ultimate price for the ultimate Gift as Fred had? He whispered that much to the Almighty as he pulled the van onto A2 heading East toward Siberia.


(to be continued) [click to read]

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