Have you received the Holy Spirit? If you have been Baptized, if you have been Confirmed, then the answer is YES!
What does it mean to have received The Holy Spirit? You will hear many answers to that question but to adapt the common parlance of this generation, it means that we are guaranteed all the downloads and upgrades we require to lovingly, wisely, courageously, justly serve the common good of the Church. To continue the analogy, we must remain connected, open, and willing.
Most Catholics have been brought up to leave all of that sort of thing to the bishops and priests. When first ordained my Pastor informed me that one thing he would never ask me to do was to "think!"
We still have a long way to go but thanks to the Holy Spirit those days are over.
We are rational animals. Failure to think is a cop out.
Last Fall, in England Pope Benedict, through the process of beatification, sent John Henry Cardinal Newman, who died in 1890,on the road to canonization. It was the future saintís oft expressed belief that the consensus of the Faithful is the voice of the infallible Church. Note well, he did not say that the consensus is in itself infallible. It is rather one essential indication of the real judgement of the Church, the Church composed of both teachers and the taught, which is infallible in its interpretation of Divine revelation.
As practicing, concerned Catholics we are responsible for contributing in some degree to that consensus even though it might be only by silent example.
Newman was convinced that good bishops really desire to know the opinion of the laity on what he termed subjects in which the laity are especially concerned. That pretty well covers all of the important subjects that I can think of.
In 1854, when contemplating the formal definition of Our Ladyís Immaculate Conception, Pope Pius the ninth insisted that he could not act until he could ascertain the views of the Catholic people on the subject. In those days it must have been a local, limited sampling.
But in todayís super-connected world the opportunities are boundless and immediate.
It is even possible, though not necessarily desirable, for consensus to be reached and expressed without any formal process. Witness the world-wide reaction to the official position on birth control as expressed in the encyclical Humanae Vitae in July of 1968 ...a position largely ignored and not without serious ramifications.
We Catholics do not come from a Reformation tradition and so it is hard for us to consider and recommend reforms to those authorities directly responsible for Church administration at various levels.
Such action makes us feel disloyal. I suggest that the opposite should be true.
We are now witnessing mechanisms from the grass roots or otherwise through which loyal Catholics, clergy, lay and religious are responding to the urging of the Spirit of Pentecost to play their particular role in the movement toward consensus in matters such as the scandal of thousands, if not millions, of Catholics denied the Eucharist in priestless Churches in so many parts of the world.
In this effort the internet and the Catholic Press are playing a major role.
May truth be served, may balance prevail, may a genuine Faith in the guidance of the spirit be courageously lived by us all.
And finally may the Holy Father and the bishops of the world find solace in the knowledge that they are not alone when it comes to carrying the burden of the day.