On-going series of online formations from the Verbum Dei Family, United Kingdom

The online formations continue as an ecclesial initiative following some promptings of the Holy Spirit in the UK Verbum Dei Family, especially between Olly, Margarida and James.  The formations have dealt with different themes regarding spirituality such as “How to make a Project of Life” and “The Incarnation and the Theology of the body” and contemporary ethical issues such as “How to counter the growing movement for Euthanasia?” and “Gender identity and Catholic teaching”.

Recently James gave a formation on the “Desires of the Spirit” in line with the forthcoming celebration of Pentecost. He shared the various biblical images of the Spirit such as water, a dove, wind and fire, but reminded us that the Spirit is a person. The Spirit teaches us how to pray, and groans within us and in creation (see Romans 8:22.26). These groans can be understood as the desires of the Spirit. Fr Bill McGarry, SJ (+ AMDG 2018): “Since these desires are such a precious gift, they should be attended to. It seems true enough to say that much prayer and self-examination consists in attending to these desires and simply resting in desire.”

The online participants (mainly UK based, but also Switzerland and as far as Canada) were invited to connect with the desires of the Spirit in their heart. Some participants found it novel and invigorating to recognize these desires as the presence of the Spirit. The insights of Fr Bill helped us: “We cannot presume that all desires that seem good are in fact good. Likewise, we cannot presume that God wants us to follow even all good desires. We might be called to follow one among several.” The formation ended with a reminder that the Spirit leads the whole Church into unity in diversity, in the form of communion. The Spirit is the principal agent of the mission, so we asked the Spirit to fill us with fire so we can be faithful to the mission work entrusted to us.

In the feedback and questions session, at the end, various participants commented on the dynamic and interactive nature of the formation which helped them assimilate better the content. Some comments were:

An excellent and very practical formation. A tool to really discern what your real desires are and how to realign with God’s desires for us. (Sue)

It struck me that desires are a gift from God, and He wishes us to work for them, so that there is a flourishing of ourselves. Then the work of God is unfolded in us and benefits those around us. (Laurinda)

Very very good and timely, a lot of food for thought very much needed. (Cathy)

This formation helped to awake myself to Pentecost and to the presence of the Holy Spirit. We are often submerged in our daily tasks, and prayer can be dry. The formation fired my heart to search for God, for my desires and the desires of God for me/us. (Gabor and Gina)

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