A memory from ministering to incarcerated teens:
Many incarcerated minors call themselves Catholic, even though they may be unchurched. They are proud to show their tattoos of rosary beads, the Virgin Mary or the crucifix.
They are quick to make the sign of the cross when we pray—and often they’ll do it rapidly three times, kissing their thumb each time. I believe with many, it’s an obsessive-compulsive habit. I’m told that some gangs make the sign of the cross for good luck before participating in a criminal activity.
Unfortunately for most of these teens, the sign of the cross is the extent of their Catholicism, because they have little or no knowledge of the Bible or of Catholic doctrine.
Often when I see my entire group make the sign of the cross I’ll suggest we do it together. Then I’ll talk about what it means:
“When we touch our forehead we say, ‘In the name of the Father.’ Who is the Father?”
The most common response is “Jesus!”
I’ll say, “If the Father is Jesus Christ, then who is the Son?”
Then they’ll say, with a little less confidence, “Jesus?”
I’ll explain that God the Father is the father of Jesus the Son.
“Next we touch each shoulder and say ‘Holy Spirit.’ Who is the Holy Spirit?”
The usual answer, “The Virgin Mary!”
One confused teen thought the Father referred to his dad, the Son referred to himself, and the Holy Spirit referred to his mom!
I like to explain that the Holy Spirit is the part of God that will actually come and indwell us when we give our lives to Jesus. When He comes in He brings all the fruit of the Spirit with Him, so that we can have the power to live a life that is pleasing to God. Without the Holy Spirit it’s pretty much impossible.
So what is the fruit of the Spirit? We read in Galatians 5:22-23 that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. When we receive the Holy Spirit we receive ALL the fruit, not just some of it. That means we have the love and the self-control, etc. We just need to exercise it.
The Bible also tells us that when the Holy Spirit comes in He becomes our comforter and teacher. He will begin to show us new things. Our desires will change as He opens our eyes and gives us a better understanding of Scripture and life.
- But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
- But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:16
- SONG: I KNOW HIM – by Kathleen
[This life is temporary. This life is short. When this life is over, our bodies will die and become empty shells, but our souls will continue to live forever. Where will the “real you” live? Will you live for all eternity separated from God? Or will you spend eternity in the presence of God in heaven? Learn more so you can make your most important decision: http://www.godlife.com/gospel/ and http://www.godlife.com/en/about-christianity
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