Living in the Spirit

Today’s homilist for this Second Sunday of Easter borrowed, I believe, from an essay by Ron Rolheiser. In the Gospel, Jesus breathes on his disciples and says to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Fr. Rolheiser asks the question, what does it mean “to live in the Spirit?” In his answer he quotes St. Paul, who he says

speaks with a clarity that leaves almost no room for vagueness or false sentiment. He begins by … telling us that, if in our lives there is “lewd conduct, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, bickering, jealousy, outbursts of rage, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factionalism, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like”, then we are not living in the spirit, pure and simple. Conversely, we are living in the spirit when, in our lives, there is “charity, joy, peace, patience, endurance, kindness, generosity, faith, mildness, and chastity.”

* * *

Today is also my oldest daughter’s 32nd birthday and the last day of this year’s Masters Tournament, annually the first of the four major championships in professional golf.

My family’s annual men’s retreat at Loyola, in Morristown, N.J., often took place on the same weekend as The Masters. This meant that when my father and his brother, both avid golfers, went on retreat, they had to miss all but the final day of live television coverage. That was a bit of a sacrifice for them, which made sense, I suppose, given it was often still during the Lenten season.

But the retreat weekend still made for a nice golf tradition too, especially in their retirement. On Friday Dad would drive down from Connecticut to my uncle’s house in New Jersey. They would play a round of golf, then head over to the retreat house for room assignments, dinner, orientation, and the first reflection. Retreats end with Sunday lunch, whereupon the two brothers would head back to my uncle’s house to watch the last round of The Masters.

I enjoyed going on retreat with my brother too, but any time we spent together that weekend had to be at the retreat house (or nearby), because we came from opposite directions, hours away, to get there.

This year’s retreat is next weekend, but my wife and I have long-standing plans with my son and his in-laws. They are a God-loving group, so we will still be “in the spirit,” I’m sure.

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