The Flame: September-October 2021
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

St. John Paul II penned this prayer to the Holy Spirit:
Holy Spirit, Spirit of Pentecost: help me to clarify what is ambiguous, give warmth to what is indifferent and to enlighten what is obscure, so that I may be for the world a true and generous witness of Christ’s love because no one can live without love. Amen.

On most days I remember to pray that prayer. I believe it captures what we need to do in our time and reminds us that we can only do it by living in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Clarify what is ambiguous: it is easy to get confused. Pressures externally from our culture and internally from our broken human nature seek to squeeze us into a worldly mold. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. The Holy Spirit helps us see things clearly and act courageously.

signs In C.S. Lewis’ book The Silver Chair, Eustace Scrubb and Jill Pole are sent from our world to Narnia to find a prince who disappeared after the tragic death of his mother, the queen. Jill was given four signs that would help them find the prince.

The first sign was that Eustace would find an old friend as soon as they arrived in Narnia. Jill told Eustace about the sign as she arrived. Eustace watched an old man get onto a boat and sail away. Later he learned that the old man was a friend who had aged 50 years while Eustace aged one year. Sign one was muffed.

The second sign directed them to travel north to the city of the ancient giants. They started off in the right direction with Puddleglum, their guide. However, they were soon distracted by foul weather and the fair promise of a queen like person who told them where they could get a warm bed and hot food. These distractions led them to miss the city. They walked by the ruined city of ancient giants. Instead, they were trapped in a different city of giants who were going to have them as the main entrée for their late fall festival! Muff two!

The third sign was that they would find writing on a stone of that city of ancient giants. They were to do what the stone said. From the city of their capture they could read the message on the ruined walls of the ancient city. It read: UNDER ME. Somehow, they had to break out of the city where they were on the menu and get underneath the ruined city of the ancient giants. This they did only to be immediately captured and led off through a series of underground caverns, tunnels and lakes for days. Though this seemed to be the most depressing part of their trip, it was the only part so far in which they were actually following a sign.

The fourth sign was this: You will know the lost prince, if you find him, by this: that he will be the first person you have met in your travels who will ask you to do something in my name, in the name of Aslan. The underlings led Eustace, Jill and Puddleglum to an underground city of sorts. The queen-like person they had met earlier was the one who ruled it. However, she was out of the city, putting the finishing touches on her takeover of the Upperworld. Instead, Eustace, Jill and Puddleglum met her lackey, a handsome but quirky person who was in charge while she was away. After a meal of sorts, this person became even quirkier. He was locked in a silver chair for a period of time during the night during which he went raving mad. While under this spell he begged the Upperworld people to release him from the chair. It was the last thing they wanted to do. He was raving like a lunatic. Then he shouted, I beg you, in the name of Aslan, release me!

When Eustance, Jill and Puddleglum heard the name Aslan, they froze. This was the fourth sign. Are we to release this lunatic? They decided to do it. They reasoned that Aslan did not say they would not be killed or that everything would turn out OK. Aslan simply said that they needed to do what the person requested. So Jill, Eustace and Puddleglum said good-bye to each other and then undid the fasteners to release the raving man.

Sure enough, once the man was released he bounded across the room and grabbed a sword. However, he took the sword and struck the silver chair. He then introduced himself as the missing prince now set free from the curse of the underworld queen.

The point is this: we have been given many signs from God that reveal him. However, due to our fallen world and fallen nature, we do not always remember them, understand them or act upon them. God, in his mercy, continues to guide and assist us. And as we act in the name of Jesus, we cut through the ambiguity of this world and fulfill God’s plan.

The Holy Spirit is our helper and friend. Instead of getting caught up in the confusion of the world, and the discouragement it leads to, let us seek to be filled ever more fully with the Holy Spirit. Let us soak our thinking in the Word of God and the revealed truth of the Catholic faith. Then, acting in the power of the Holy Spirit, we will be able to clarify what is ambiguous, give warmth to what is indifferent and enlighten what is obscure. We will become true witnesses of the love of Jesus Christ, and lead others to the source of true meaning and love. For no one can live without love.

In Christ,
Fr. Bob Franco