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Come Holy Spirit, Give Us Goodness

This is the sixth of a 12-part, once-a-month series on the Fruits of the Holy Spirit. This month’s fruit is Goodness. Be sure to see previous posts beginning with CHARITY and check back next month as another contributor explores the fruit of LONG-SUFFERING.

When tragedy strikes, people often ask the question “Where is God?” While God does not cause tragedy – He is after all, all good – He does permit it to happen. I believe He does this that we might see His Goodness.

A tornado touched down in Moore, OK last week and left lasting devastation. At least 24 people died, including 9 children. As with any tragic event, the beauty – the goodness – of God comes through in the aftermath. People will do good things; they will provide clothing and shelter, they will comfort the grieving, and they will care for the sick and wounded. All of these things give us a glimmer of the goodness of God.

Goodness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and it seems like it should be a hard one to pin down. In a world rife with disease, violence and apathy it can be difficult to see goodness, especially goodness of a supernatural sort. Mother Theresa is probably the most widely known figure who embodied this fruit. She cared for the lowest of the low, the sick, weak, and dying. In reality, every EMT, Nurse, Doctor, First Responder and volunteer on-site in Moore is ripe with goodness. Something as simple as bringing a meal to a grieving family is a way to feed the hungry.

Goodness, as a fruit of the Spirit can be seen in the Corporal Acts of Mercy:

To feed the hungry.

To give drink to the thirsty.

To clothe the naked.

To shelter the homeless.

To visit the sick.

To visit the imprisoned (formerly known as “to ransom the captive”)

To bury the dead.

The works of mercy come from Matthew 25:31-40

And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty. And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.

Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in: Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.

It is easier than we think to share the fruit of goodness. I know that the Acts of Mercy my family received in the days, months and years following our infant daughter’s death were – and are! – glimmering beacons of God’s love for me in a time where my life seemed covered in darkness. While not all of us are able to perform Corporal Acts of Mercy for the suffering in Moore, we can find people in our everyday lives who are in need of goodness and we can always remember the suffering in our prayers as we perform the seventh Spiritual Act of Mercy: Pray for the living and the dead.

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A Tribute to a Living Saint

Have you ever had one of those people in your life who you just could not live without and who has had such a profound impact on you and on others that you could not help but regard that person as a living saint? Well, I have the privilege of not only knowing and loving such a person, but the honor of calling her “Mama.” Today, June 26 is her birthday. God has blessed the world with her for 65 years, so in honor of my mother and her birthday, I share with you this tribute.

My mother, Priscilla, has affected me and my life in profound ways. There has not been a day that has gone by that she has not told me she loves me, in thought, word, or deed. The day I had my first child, she was with me in the delivery room and I looked at her and said, “Thank you, Mama.” It was at that moment that I truly understood why she loved me so much. All I could think was that I had mighty big shoes to fill; my mother was exactly what a mother should be.

My mom is an incredibly selfless person. She gives of herself and never asks for anything in return. She retired and took care of my youngest child everyday while I worked; she currently takes care of her elderly parents, one of which has Alzheimer’s and is bed ridden. Growing up, my mother (and father) sacrificed and worked hard to make sure my sister and I attended Catholic school from grades 1-12. She went without the big house, nice cars, and vacations so that she could pay tuition. We are her priority and her joy in life. I always feel beautiful in her eyes in every way. She is a wonderful grandmother and her grandchildren admire her and love her incredibly. Every Sunday, she took my grandmother, her mother in law, with us to Mass and spent time with her, treating her as if she were her own mother. Her undying love for my dad has resulted in a 44 year marriage. She has shown him love and patience and faithfulness like no other.

My mother has never been a didactic Catholic. She does not try to impress with dogma, nor does she patronize with her goodness or preaching of Truth. She prays quietly in her own way, but she is one who St. Francis described as “preaches the Gospel always, uses words if necessary.” Her goodness shines through in her day to day interactions with others. Everyone who crosses her path is left with a better sense of themselves and a feeling of peace. Complete strangers, at the grocery store, at the airport, divulge every detail of their personal strife to her and they are left with a hope and feeling of not being alone in the world. It is quite amazing! My sister and I are continually astounded when we witness one of these episodes. In a ten minute conversation at the airport, she consoled a woman, whom she had never met before, over the loss of her adult child to suicide. The woman walked away with a peaceful smile on her face. These miraculous occurrences were commonplace for me growing up.

She has taught me how to forgive. When she is hurt by someone, usually someone who has taken advantage of her generosity and goodness, she immediately forgives. She moves past these hurts in an amazing way. I look to her example on how to forgive those who are hurtful and hateful; I see that she instinctively wishes goodness on such people. She is fiercely loyal and protective of those she loves, but in the gentlest manner. I can say anything to her—anyone can—and never feel judged or berated. I often think this is the type of person the Blessed Mother must have been.

This type of person does exist. I constantly pray to be like her. I even named my daughter after her; I hope that she will be like her Nana in some way, any way. Thank you for allowing me to share this remarkable example of Christ’s love with you all. She is truly a Living Saint.