Holy Spirit as Advocate

Overall, Week 3 (last night’s class) went very well. Along the way, however, I encountered a few things that I’m not satisfied with and hope to change. Here’s the run-down:

  • We began with a brief prayer and I thought I would introduce the idea of the young people sharing petitions – very simply, thanking God for blessings and praying for the needs of others and/or our own needs. I gave a few examples and told them that we would pass a candle around the group. When they received the candle, they could share a petition aloud or hold the candle silently for 5 seconds or so before passing it along. We began with prayers of thanksgiving and not one student prayed aloud (and there was occasional giggling). I told them that they were being shy and encouraged them to share aloud. Next, we offered prayers for the needs of others and/our ourselves and the result was the same! I commented that they may not be used to sharing prayers out loud with others and said we would continue to do this each week and that I hoped they would begin to feel more comfortable in doing so. I’m sure it’s just going to take 1 or 2 brave souls to break the ice!
  • We had a nice review of the first 2 weeks and they did well at recalling the BIG IDEAS…one of them even recalling the word INCARNATION from last week to describe the event of Jesus becoming flesh.
  • We introduced the night’s topic: the Holy Spirit and talked about what it means to be an ADVOCATE. We talked about how lawyers, doctors, nurses, counselors, etc. were advocates and that Jesus used this word to describe the Holy Spirit. We then listened to a Mariah Carey song (“Anytime You Need a Friend”) to reinforce the idea of what it means to be an advocate and I told them that many of the lyrics of that song can be compared to what the Holy Spirit wants for us:

Anytime you need a friend
I will be here
You’ll never be alone again
So don’t you fear
Even if you’re miles away
I’m by your side

  • We next talked about how we can recognize the Holy Spirit in our lives. I showed a brief clip from the movie Ghost that shows people going to a “spiritual advisor” (played by Whoopi Goldberg) who is a con artist. I explained that this is NOT how we Catholics seek to be in touch with the spiritual world. We don’t believe that there is a separation between the spiritual and physical world that requires some mediator (a psychic, etc.) to reach across for us. Rather, Jesus is our mediator and, through the Incarnation, we recognize that the spiritual and physical worlds come together in our hearts, where the Spirit resides.
  • We then read from the text book about the Holy Spirit.
  • I showed them a TV antenna (rabbit ears!) that I brought in and asked them to explain what it does. They explained that an antenna is receptive to the signal being sent, making it possible for a TV to display a picture (until Feb. 17, 2009, that is!). I talked about how God created us with “human antennae” which makes it possible for us to be receptive to the Holy Spirit – those “antennae” being our mind, will, emotions, imagination, and memories.
  • They next went with their little mini-votive candles to their “sacred space” for a guided reflection in which I told them to pay attention to how the Spirit may be speaking to their minds, wills, emotions, imaginations, and memories. Before starting, I needed to relocate a couple of kids whose sacred spaces were just too close to someone else’s.
  • With quiet background instrumental music and the lights dimmed, we spent about 15 minutes in reflective prayer, beginning with some breathing exercises and then just imagining Jesus being present with them and talking and listening to him.
  • Throughout the prayer, most of the kids were good except for a couple of voices that continued to make comments aloud and or engaged in some giggling (I have a couple of incessant gigglers! Sweet kids but oh do they giggle!). In all, it was pretty quiet though.
  • I gathered them together before we left and gave them feedback about their behavior during the prayer and what they need to do in order for this to be a more productive time. I especially talked about the chatter and giggling and how a few of them needed to overcome that.

So, in all, I felt very good about the session even though I spent a lot of energy dealing with typical adolescent behaviors that make this work so challenging. Knowing that these are typical behaviors, however, helps me to feel more patient with them while at the same time challenging them to show more mature behavior. I definitely feel like we’re making progress. I can’t believe that next week marks a full month that we’ve been in session already!

About Joe Paprocki 2351 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

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