A lack of prayer, said Bishop Mario Grech, may be the kernel of the reason for the absence of the Holy Spirit from the church tday. During a mass entrusting the Diocese of Gozo to Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu, Bishop Grech said that the community, once defined by the parish boundaries, is no longer so demarcated since not all within the locality are practising Catholics. “The Christian community is shrinking apace” observed the Bishop, concerned. He said that while it is true that there are many positive signs of healthy spiritual life, less encouraging signs of spiritual sloth and crises are also evident. Quoting the reading from Ezekiel, Bishop Grech said that this excerpt from the Bible is an x-ray of the current situation. Stranded in a valley, surrounded by dry and brittle bones, the Jews told the prophet  “Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost” (Ezk 37:11). They felt demoralised and helpless, living as they were in a foreign land with customs which were not their own. “In the face of all this contrariety, God reassured Ezekiel that, by calling on the help of the Spirit, what was dead would regenerate into life and a defeated people would rise again.

The Spirit gives courage and fortitude

Bishop Grech said that the invocation of the Spirit was paralleled in the New Testament by the events in Pentecost. He said that, like the Jews in the Old Testament, the Apostles were in seclusion, knowing that public opinion was against them as followers of He who had been crucified. “They were perceived as failures, just like their master. They were a hindrance to social progress according to the greats of society and they were heretics in the eyes of the religious establishment. They had every reason to remain hidden” said Bishop Grech. Seeing no glimmer of hope, the Apostles could not imagine a future until, through the power of the Holy Spirit, they found courage and strode forth into the world.

Mary as Mother and Sponsor of the Church

The Bishop of Gozo said that the Holy Spirit gives courage and props up those inclined to give up and fall by the wayside in their spiritual life. Pessimism, loss of hope and awareness of one’s failings may make any Catholic falter “…but Jesus knows what each of us is made of and the Spirit he sends is specific to our needs” said Bishop Grech. He underscored the presence of the virgin Mary in the Pentecostal gathering and said that while at the foot of the Cross Mary is seen as the Mother of the Church, in the Pentecostal gathering she is the sponsor of a newly baptised church.