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Turning to the Spirit

Updated: May 30

Yesterday was Pentecost, the Birthday of the Church. Fifty days after Christ rose from the dead, and 10 days after he ascended into heaven, the Holy Spirit descended as tongues of fire over the Apostles to be their guide, comforter, and advocate. As the Third Person in the Trinity, the Holy Spirit continues to be a source of help as we journey through life.

In John 14:26, we learn the Holy Spirit gives us seven Gifts. They are: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Knowledge, Fortitude, Piety, and Fear of the Lord. We can pray to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to strengthen these gifts, especially if we are facing difficulty. The Holy Spirit also provides us with other attributes, called Fruits. In Galatians 5:22-23, we are told they are: Love (Charity), Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Faithfulness, and Self-Control. At the beginning of the year, students at St. Michael’s School were asked to choose one of these 9 Fruits to focus on during the year. (The tradition of the Church lists twelve Fruits – the above list plus Generosity, Modesty, and Chastity).

School is a place for children to improve in reading, vocabulary, math, science, social studies, and many other subjects. It is also a place for them to learn how to get along with their peers so they can function effectively in a civilized society. Children need to learn skills to use in social settings, just like they do in academic settings. They become aware of their emotions, and they discover that they must regulate their moods. Just like children receive feedback from their teachers, peers, and parents regarding their academic progress, they also experience quite a bit of “fraternal correction” from their peers at school. Fraternal correction is usually uncomfortable, but it is an important part of growing up because it can help us become better people.

Parents should help their children understand how to respond to fraternal correction from their peers. Children should listen without bias, they should try NOT to respond emotionally, and if the points their peers offered are valid, they should try to act on those suggestions. If the points their peers offered are not valid, they can choose to disregard the suggestion WITHOUT anger or retribution. This is where the Fruits of the Holy Spirit can help. After receiving feedback from peers, ask Him for help obtaining or improving the attributes that may be lacking. For example, if a student is told that they hurt someone’s feelings (maybe they ignored the person, or made an unkind comment), then pray for Peace or Kindness. If it is suggested that the student gets “triggered” easily, then they should pray for Self-control.

It is common for students and parents to rush to the conclusion that “bullying” is taking place. While we do see some occasions of bullying, more often than not it is that children are learning how to get along with their peers. They cannot always “get their way,” and not everyone will always agree with them. They need to be reminded that what they are experiencing is normal – everyone goes through it, even mom and dad. Above all, it is important they learn that they have control over their responses to negative feedback or actions – they can choose whether to get upset or make personal changes, if applicable. It’s all part of growing up.

This is a great prayer given to us by St. Augustine to ask for help from the Holy Spirit.


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