Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Push Back the Dark

We just endured the shortest day of the year.

Fittingly, Christmas is on the horizon.

Positioned in the midst of the winter solstice, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ at a specific moment in the history of the world, a recognition of His Incarnation in our hearts and lives today, and a recognition that He will come again.

We celebrate the Light of the World during a season where we fight against the darkness. We push back at it with Advent wreaths, shining in full glory with all four candles ablaze. We push back at the darkness with lights on our trees. We push back at the long nights with lights on our houses and across our neighborhoods and cities.

From now until the summer solstice, our world will push back at the dark with much success. Each tomorrow will enjoy a few more minutes of light, building upon the gains made by every today.

Let us follow suit: keep pushing back the dark.

Zechariah, the father of St. John the Baptist, made this connection between light and his Nephew, "In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace."

The dawn from on high shall break upon us, to push back the dark. 

In the midst of all the presents and dinners and cookies, let us remember the real reason for Christmas, to push back the dark. 

And, when December 26 dawns, let us realize that the real work of Christmas begins, and that Christmas is a season, not just a day. It is a lifetime, a daily invitation to let our lights shine - His Light within us - for the whole world to see.

After opening all of the packages, and Christmas songs no longer fill our televisions, radios and devices, let us push back the dark. 

In the words of Howard Thurman:
When the song of the angels is stilled, when the star in the sky is gone, when the kings and princes are home, when the shepherds are back with their flocks, the work of Christmas begins: to find the lost, to heal the broken, to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner, to rebuild the nations, to bring peace among the people, to make music in the heart.
Keep pushing back the dark. Go light up the world.

Merry Christmas!




Sunday, December 8, 2019

His, Now and Forever

"For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever."

In a post last week for the Alliance for Catholic Education, my colleauge Betsy Okello focused our Advent journeys by challenging us to wait in joyful hope, to enact the words prayed by the priest during the celebration of the Eucharist after the Our Father.

In our materialistic world, waiting in joyful hope during the season of Advent for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ, is difficult. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, Santa, Frosty, Rudolph, elves, reindeer, and presents fill stores, yards, screens, and hearts. Our to-do lists mount: Christmas concerts, parties, pictures, cards, gifts, cleaning, cookies, outfits, travel.

In the midst of the noise, the traffic, the lines, the distractions...Do you hear what I hear?

Listen. It takes focus, discipline, and effort.

It is faint, far away.

A voice, crying out in the desert, shouts, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!"

Hear it again, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!"

Attune your senses to an echo from an ancient time, "Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths!"

See the figure in the distance. As the details become clear, notice clothing made from camel hair, a leather belt, a disheveled beard, a meal of locusts and wild honey.

As he draws closer, observe the crowd behind him, following him, listening to him, imitating him, sensing that he is the return of Elijah, the one to signal the Messiah is coming soon.

Behold how easily he dismisses a group possessing apparent power, authority, and connections as he explodes, “You brood of vipers! Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance." Watch this privileged group turn away, grumbling amongst themselves about how he just blew his only shot at their endorsement.

Absorb his message for all of us, "It's not about me or you. It never has been."

Heed his words as he points us toward Christ, "I am not worthy to carry His sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. He will fill your life with purpose and meaning beyond measure and make you into who you were created to be. All of this is about and because of Him. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are His, now and forever."

This Advent, may we, like St. John the Baptist have the courage to be different from the world.

This Advent, may we listen to and internalize his words:

Repent. In all of the busyness of this season, make room for Jesus. In prayer, give
Him the first part of your day, your week, your Advent, your Christmas. Return to Him in the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation. Allow His grace to overwhelm you with new life.

Make straight the paths. What is most essential right now? What could you courageously leave out of Advent, or intentionally bring into it so that it’s more about Him and less about anything else? What could you do differently to stand out from the world so that you can point to the Cause of our joyful hope when people question just what you’re doing? Turn your cards into messages of evangelization. Take time while shopping to pray for those for whom you’re buying gifts. Recognize traces of the Light of the world in the decorations fighting against December’s darkness. Notice echos of the choirs of angels in the silver bells, jingle bells, sleigh bells and other sounds of the season.

Produce good fruit. The wonder of the season is wrapped up in the wonder of God’s love, wrapped up in a blanket, wrapped up in our humanity, wrapped up in God’s plan to save the world. Follow this example and give Him your finest gift: you. Honor God by giving yourself to others through acts of service, charity, and mercy.  

It’s not about you or me or gifts or cookies or concerts. It never has been.


The kingdom, the power, and the glory are His now and forever.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Hunger


“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” 
-St. Augustine, Confessions

One of my favorite characters in The Chronicles of Naria is the valiant mouse Reepicheep. Ironically, one of the tiniest characters in the series has the largest spirit, the most courage, and unparalleled purpose. 

He hungers to serve Aslan in any way possible and to ultimately make it to Aslan’s country. One of the greatest lines in the whole series centers on Reepicheep’s intense hunger to join Aslan: 

My own plans are made. While I can, I sail east in the Dawn Treader. When she fails me,
I paddle east in my coracle. When she sinks, I shall swim east with my four paws. And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan’s country, or shot over the edge of the world in some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise...(Lewis, 1952, p. 213)
Reepicheep illustrated by Pauline Baynes. 

In C.S. Lewis’s books, Aslan symbolizes Christ. 

Reepicheep represents the best in all of us, the us that God created us to be. He hungers for Aslan, or Christ, with such ferocity that nothing else will satisfy him. 

Because we believe we are made in the image and likeness of God, we bear the imprint of our Creator. As such, we desire something more than what can be found here on earth. 

If we are honest with ourselves, nothing will satisfy the deepest longing of our hearts to reunite with our Heavenly Father. Things of this world point toward Him. We believe that God is in all things and that the world is charged with visible signs of His invisible presence. 

But, no matter how great the best things of this world are, they cannot completely fill us. 

Only God can. He is the only thing that can satisfy our hunger. 

Our hunger for the best thing, God, propels us to greatness and is what draws us to this ministry. The more we grow in holiness, the more we desire to grow in holiness. 

Because of our hunger for God, we yearn for greater accomplishments and strive for more heroic actions to make Him known, loved, and served as Catholic school leaders.  

One problem with our plans to imitate Reepicheep and hunger for only God is something that also helps us in this effort: dopamine. 

Famously known as the feel-good neurotransmitter, dopamine helps motivate us to seek things that bring us pleasure, and produce more dopamine.

Dopamine is triggered in anticipation of your favorite Thanksgiving dish. You’re welcome. 

It is released after we bite into (insert your favorite Thanksgiving item here). Our bodies flood with this feel-good chemical. We help ourselves to seconds, thirds...fifths? 

Dopamine is also triggered in pursuit of a goal. We set out to accomplish something. Arriving at small check-points along the way, we receive small hits of dopamine, propelling us toward our target. As we get closer, anticipation mounts and dopamine floods our brains when we arrive at our final destination. 

The stronger the hunger for the reward, the more the reward satisfies us if/when we receive it thanks to dopamine. Having received the reward and dopamine, we hunger for more of both. This is both dopamine’s blessing and its curse.

We get dopamine from so many sources today, especially our devices, that we become desensitized to it. Social media provides a series of dopamine hits, making it hard for you in a moment of dopamine free-living - waiting, reading this reflection - not to pick up your phone and start scrolling or switch tabs to a dopamine-inducing stimulation. 

The hunger we have for dopamine distracts us from pointing our noses to the sunrise. 

Thanks to Silicon Valley executives, dopamine fasting is a thing. Dopamine fasters think that denying our brains the production of dopamine for short periods of time helps us achieve greater concentration and focus. Once the fast is over, we can return to the sources of our dopamine hits with greater awareness, enjoying them more than we did before the fast. 

The science behind this trend is sound. Fasting can lead to greater concentration, focus, and awareness. As Catholics, we would be wise to take this centuries-old practice back. 

Within our Catholic tradition, fasting does not just lead to greater concentration, focus, and awareness, it points us toward God, the source of our deepest longing, and helps us to recognize that nothing can fill the innate hunger we have for Him except Him. Fasting reorients our vision, gives us clarity about how to get there, and supplies energy for our journey.  

Our fasting fuels us to hunger for the thing that really matters: God. 

This awakens us to the mission that God has for our lives and focuses our efforts to accomplish it. It strengthens us to make Him known, loved, and served with even greater conviction, and more profound effect.

While dopamine fasters are returning to the source of their emptiness, let us fast so as to return to the source of our life.  

In doing so may we, like Reepicheep, make plans to point our noses to the sunrise and hunger for only God.


-Lewis, C.S. (1952). The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. New York: Scholastic. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

It's Not Just a Symbol

The Eucharist is the source and summit of our Catholic faith. Yet, only one-third of Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist (https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/08/05/transubstantiation-eucharist-u-s-catholics/).

Only 50% of Catholics know Church teaching on the Eucharist. Batting .500 would be amazing in baseball and many other sports and endeavors. But, roughly the same percentage of atheists (47%) know that the Church teaches that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Jesus.

Almost 70% of Catholics think that the Eucharist is just a symbol, 20% of whom know the Church's teaching on it.

It is not just a symbol.

It is not a symbol of Jesus, or of the Last Supper, or of bread, or life, or the Passover, or anything.

Catholic writer Flannery O'Connor famously defended the Eucharist as more than just a symbol at a dinner party with friends. She writes:
Well, toward morning the conversation turned on the Eucharist, which I, being the Catholic, was obviously supposed to defend. Mrs. Broadwater said when she was a child and received the Host, she thought of it as the Holy Ghost, He being the "most portable" person of the Trinity; now she thought of it as a symbol and implied that it was a pretty good one. I then said, in a very shaky voice, "Well, if it's a symbol, to h*** with it." That was all the defense I was capable of but I realize now that this is all I will ever be able to say about it, outside of a story, except that it is the center of existence for me; all the rest is expendable. (https://muse.jhu.edu/article/20417/summary)
The Eucharist, instituted at the Last Supper, is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. In the sixth chapter of John's Gospel, Jesus teachers His Real Presence in the Eucharist as more than symbolic. Known as the Bread of Life Discourse, Jesus's language continues to press toward the fact that He is the Bread of Life.

Notice how His language intensifies with each iteration of this teaching:

  • Verse 35: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst."
  • Verses 47 and 48: "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life."
  • Verse 51: "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
  • Verses 53 - 56: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him."

As this teaching progresses, people in the crowd murmur, quarrel and leave. In response, Jesus does not back down or soften His language to the realm of symbolism.

He leans in and declares that His flesh is true food and His blood is true drink. At two different times He leads off with the phrase, "Amen, amen". Not one, but two. Not once, but twice.

Truly.

Verily.

It is so.

He is the Bread of Life.

The Eucharist is not a symbol.

Amen.

Amen!

This is really hard to believe, which is why it's a mystery of our Catholic faith.

I've recently been praying for Jesus to help my unbelief. Ever since my daughter, Elizabeth, made her first Communion earlier this year, I have been receiving Jesus under both species. My church growing up never offered the Precious Blood, so in churches where both were offered, I typically only received Jesus's Body.

And, candidly, a cup shared by an entire congregation scared me. Especially during cold and flu season.

But it's not just a symbol. It's not just a cup of wine shared by hundreds of people.

It is Jesus's Precious and holy Blood, poured out for me and my sins. Eating His Body and drinking His Blood puts His life inside of us, "Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1323).

This teaching is hard.

In a sense, though, it is even harder if it's just a symbol.

Why go to Mass every weekend, especially with young kids in tow, if it's only a symbol? I can read the Bible, look at a crucifix, and show up for the important days if that's the case. This is probably why there is a correlation between belief in the Real Presence of Jesus and weekly Mass attendance.
https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/08/05/transubstantiation-eucharist-u-s-catholics/ 

Why receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, unless maybe I've done something really bad, if it's just a symbol? Jesus already died for my sins, and going into the dark confessional is scary.

What's the point of Baptism, Confirmation, Matrimony, Holy Orders, Anointing of the sick if they, and the Eucharist, are just symbols, if the life and grace of Jesus does not fill us and change us in these moments?

If it's just a symbol, what other teachings are symbolic? Loving your enemies? Being peacemakers? Offering forgiveness? Going out to encounter those on the margins?

What about the Resurrection...?

It's not just a symbol, and if you believe that it is, start living as if you believe that it really is Jesus's Body and Blood.

And pray that Jesus might help your unbelief.

And mine.

Until then, and especially after, act and pray like a believer.

It's not just a symbol.

Amen.

Amen.


*for another take on this same idea, check out this Word on Fire blog: https://www.wordonfire.org/resources/blog/jesus-may-not-need-our-adoration-but-he-asked-for-it/25556/

Thursday, August 29, 2019

God's Will

As a parent, there have been countless times with each of my three children where my interactions with them were nothing more than either side repeating his/her thoughts incessantly.

"Daddy, I don't want to brush my teeth!"

"If you have teeth, you have to brush them."

"But, I don't want to brush my teeth!"

 "If you have teeth, you have to brush them."

The volume of either line might increase. Maybe the pace of delivery quickens or slows. There might even be tears associated with what is said. But, the content remains the same.

In many ways, I think this interplay is similar to the way that I've interact with God as of late, or maybe forever. And, maybe, like a good parent, or least one that is much better than I am, maybe this is the way that God has chosen to respond to me...or maybe not. It's God's response back to me that has me puzzled. 

At various points in my life, I have had many conversations with God about His will for my life. In most cases, those conversations have been incredibly one sided.

I've told God that I want to know His will for my life.

I've asked God what His will for my life is.

I've offered to God what His will for my life should be.

I've prayed for the wisdom, courage, and strength to know, follow and see to the end whatever His will for me is.

And, despite some whispers, some fleeting breakthroughs of grace, I often don't think I've heard God's reply. Does this mean that I'm not following His will for me? Does this mean I'm not praying hard enough, or often enough, or the right prayers? Does it mean that I'm doing His will and His silence is His way of saying, "Yes. Now go and do it."

But, over the past few weeks and days, I've had some glimpses of how I may be able to find an answer.

The first is in the form of the lead singer for the band Tenth Avenue North, Mike Donehey. Mike recently published a book titled, "Finding God's Life for My Will". I haven't read it yet, but Mike's main premise is that instead of asking God what His will is for our lives, we should ask how we need to change so that we can more closely align our lives to His. In Mike's own words, "God's not after our success, He's after our surrender. He's not after our achievements, He's after our hearts."


St. Theresa of Calcutta had a similar message:

“God has not called me to be successful; He has called me to be faithful.”

Stop worrying about God's will and start following the life of Jesus. God's will for me is that I come to know, love, and serve Him. The best way that I can do that is to be as faithful as I can to the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.

I can find God's will for my life by putting the life of God in every ounce of my will. 

Another lead came in the form of a question I recently heard posed by a Catholic consulting group to an organization using its services, "How do you discern God's will?"

At face value, this question seems really deep and philosophical. My initial response was, "I have no idea! If I knew that is all that I would do. Ever!" 

But, after my quick frustration subsided, I realized that the question can be much more practical. What am I doing in my life to discern God's will? What habits, practices, behaviors afford God the opportunity to reveal to me His plan? 

The Mass, frequently receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, reading scripture, praying the Rosary, listening to podcasts about the faith, enjoying Christian music like Tenth Avenue North, spending time in silent prayer, performing service to others, sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament, dialoguing with other disciples, studying Church teaching, keeping a gratitude journal, doing an examination of conscience, praying novenas...

Our rich faith tradition offers many pathways for God's grace to break through our lives. Having a handful that are used for the purpose of discerning God's will can offer Him avenues to reach us.

He doesn't want our success. He doesn't want our accomplishments.

He wants us to be faithful. He wants our hearts.

He wants us.

He constantly pursues us, trying to find ways for grace to interrupt us and turn us toward Him, closer to Him.

God's will for my life is that I give my life to Him. In doing so and by engaging in practices to actively discern His will, I will find God's life for my will.

And, I will find God's will for my life.

I will find God's will.

I will find God.

I will. 

Friday, August 23, 2019

No Adequate Substitute

One of my daily prayers for my children is that they will hear the call that God has on their lives and that they may have the courage to answer it by saying yes.

Elizabeth dances with many ideas of what she'll be when she grows up. Catherine's list is a bit shorter and more consistent.

As for Gabriel, he says he wants to be a flying bulldozer.

Regardless of what they will do, I pray that they will come to know God, love Him, and ultimately choose to serve Him and that they will be who God created them to be - His disciple.

I pray that my fatherhood offers them rich opportunities to encounter Christ, because I believe that they will come to fulness of life only through a relationship with Him. Christ said, "I came so that you may have life, and have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).

I believe that Christ desires the good of my children even more than I do. Because of this, I need to bring them to Him. There is no adequate substitute for a relationship with Jesus.

A few years ago, as a member of the Diocese of St. Petersburg Vocation Enrichment Team, I attended a meeting with Catholics from around the diocese to focus on enriching, enhancing and promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life. The theme for the day: Family - The First Home of Vocations - centered on the role of the family in fostering a sense and acceptance of vocation.

Fr. Alfredo Hernandez, the keynote speaker for the event, retold pieces of his own vocation story, including the simple prayer of his mother for him to discern what God was calling him to do and that if it was priesthood that he would be a good priest.

Citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2221 - 2231), Fr. Alfredo mentioned that the role of parents involves moral formation in addition to physical and intellectual nurturing:
2221 The fecundity of conjugal love cannot be reduced solely to the procreation of children, but must extend to their moral education and their spiritual formation. "The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute."29 The right and the duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable.30 
Parents must recognize their role in moral and spiritual formation and they must accept that it is "almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute" for their influence. Such is the important role of parents in the faith lives of their children!

At times, though, this task can seem overwhelming. Given the magnitude of decisions that parents make on an hourly basis regarding the formation of their children, just surviving seems good enough a lot of the time.

One of the best ways to pass on the faith is by modeling the faith. Children come to learn about love, forgiveness, generosity, compassion, loyalty through the examples of those virtues. And while this seems daunting, it can happen in small, yet profound, ways.

Fr. Alfredo recalled that his mother would call him regalcito de cielo - little gift from heaven - and this shaped his sense of generosity and trust in God. We are made to be a gift and we are called to be a gift to others. Fr. Alfredo's mother made this clear to him through the use of this sweet nickname.

He also recounted reciting this prayer as a child with his dad: "Take my heart. Take my heart. It is yours, and not mine." Once again, this faith sharing need not be long or poetic. Instead, it must be heartfelt, authentic, and consistent.

As Catholic educators, we must help parents and families to establish a culture of joy instead of a culture of the temporary.

Our society tells us to love for as long as love lasts, to commit so long as the commitment is easy.

Our God, however, wants us to make a decision for once and all. To be all in. Totally. Close the door from the inside. Have the confidence to make a definitive - lasting - decision. Be open to the possibility of the permanent, and take whatever small step you need to take now so that you can take the next one, and the next one, and the next one...so that you can be ready to take the permanent one at some point.

True joy is borne from the encounter with others, hearing someone say, but not necessarily with words, "You are important to me." True joy is borne from knowing that Christ died to tell us this.

Our families can and need to be the places where this message is first conveyed. But, if it isn't, our Catholic schools must be places that offer both a surrogate message of worthiness and a prescription to help families grow stronger.

From Lay Catholics in Schools: Witnesses to Faith, written in 1982 by the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education:
The family is "the first and fundamental school of social living" therefore, there is a special duty to accept willingly and even to encourage opportunities for contact with the parents of students. These contacts are very necessary, because the educational task of the family and that of the school complement one another in many concrete areas; and they will facilitate the "serious duty" that parents have "to commit themselves totally to a cordial and active relationship with the teachers and the school authorities". Finally, such contacts will offer to many families the assistance they need in order to educate their own children properly; and thus fulfill the "irreplaceable and inalienable" function that is theirs. (#34)
As Catholic educators, our efforts to partner with families, to communicate early and often, to celebrate the positive while honestly addressing areas in need of improvement, to provide opportunities for involvement, education, prayer, not only develops the relationship between the home and the school for the benefit of the student.

It also sends the message to families, "You are important to me" in more than just words.

True joy is borne from these encounters.

Joy that leads to a fulness of life in Christ, a fulness that only comes by answering the call that He has on our lives.

A joy and a fulness for which there is no adequate substitute.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Encouragement

Encourage - (v) give support, confidence, or hope to (someone)

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Barnabas, Apostle. Interestingly, his name was actually Jospeh. Due to his positive demeanor, though, the apostles called him "Barnabas" which means "son of encouragement". 

He advocated for Saul - St. Paul, before anyone else believed in his conversion. This act alone seems enough to qualify him for this nickname. Barnabas defended Saul, perhaps one of the greatest persecutors of Christians ever, before he became known as an apostle of Christ. Standing up for St. Paul must have brought St. Barnabas much conflict and ridicule.

An encourager, though, supports, offers confidence in, or hope to someone. 

Encouragers play essential roles in our lives. If you think on your own life, consider those people who have encouraged you and your relationship with them. Likely, these relationships are, or at least were, incredibly strong. You probably wanted to be close to this person, growing in excitement during moments together and/or leaving his/her presence having felt stronger, lighter, joyful, hopeful, determined. 

Contrarily, consider people who discouraged you. If possible, you distanced yourself from this discourager. You dreaded your time with him/her. You left encounters with this person feeling dejected, deflated, defeated. 

As a parent, husband, Catholic educator, leader - as a person - I hope to be an encourager. I hope to bring hope to others. I hope to see others as God sees them, encouraging them that becoming the person they were created to be is more than possible. It is necessary. 

I assume that everyone would answer similarly. We want to encourage and be encouraged. 

Given the daily grind of life, and without others to encourage us, encouraging others may be beyond our capacity. Just fighting through our own battles and struggles can leave us feeling drained, with little to nothing to offer others by way of encouragement. 

Enter the Holy Spirit. 

Gerard Manley Hopkins described the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, in the following way: 
For God the Holy Ghost is the Paraclete, but what is a Paraclete?  Often it is translated comforter, but a Paraclete does more than comfort.  The word is Greek; there is no one English word for it and no one Latin word, comforter, is not enough.  A Paraclete is one who comforts, who cheers, who encourages, who persuades, who exhorts, who stirs up, who urges forward, who calls on; what the spur and word of command is to a horse, what clapping of hands is to a speaker, what a trumpet is to the soldier, that a Paraclete is to the soul: one who calls us on, that is what it means, a Paraclete is one who calls us on to good. One sight is before my mind, it is homely but it comes home: you have seen at cricket how when one of the (batters) at the wicket has made a hit and wants to score a run, the other doubts, hangs back, or is ready to run in again, how eagerly the first will cry/Come on, come on! – a Paraclete is just that, something that cheers the spirit of (people), with signals and with cries, all zealous that (we) should do something and full of assurance that if (we) will (we) can, calling (us) on, springing to meet (us) half way, crying to (our) ears or to (our) heart: This way to do God’s will, this way to save your soul, come on, come on! 
No matter our circumstance, the Paraclete is with us, encouraging us, calling us on to do good, to be the people God created us to be, to strengthen us with fortitude, to fill us with wisdom, enlighten us with understanding, guide us with counsel, direct us with knowledge, humble us with piety, and enliven us with fear of the Lord.

Come, Holy Spirit, encourage us! St. Barnabas, son of encouragement, pray for us!

Be encouraged and be an encourager!