by Vince Cascone
During the middle of March, I was able to go to Chicago for a few days to visit my parents with three of our six children.
As is usually the case, this was a road trip. Between our four schedules, we found it necessary to drive home through the night. After a few hours of driving, my eyes were getting tired and we needed to pull off the highway to switch drivers.
My three young adult children were in absolute awe of the number of stars in the beautiful night sky. I, too, was in awe of the night sky, but also of that brief moment in which I was able to share it with Emma, Nathaniel and Jacob. So simple. So beautiful. Such a gift.
Wonder and awe are gifts of the Holy Spirit, also referred to as “fear of the Lord.” In the words of Pope Francis, this does not mean that we should be afraid of God but that we should acknowledge “how small we are before God and of his love, and that our good lies in humble, respectful and trustful self-abandonment into his hands.”
Psychologist Ethan Kross defines “awe” as “the wonder we feel when we encounter something powerful that we can’t easily explain.”
In his article, “Why You Need to Protect Your Sense of Wonder,” David Fessell states: “Often the things which bring us awe have an element of vastness and complexity.”
Fessell goes on to explain how one experimental group, when asked to draw pictures of themselves, literally drew themselves smaller in size after having an awe-inspiring experience. Such an effect has been termed “unselfing.”
This unselfing helps to draw us out of ourselves and toward others. It inspires us to be more generous and compassionate. Indeed, wonder and awe are truly gifts.
As I visit schools, I speak with the eighth grade students and discuss confirmation. Please join me in praying for our eighth graders, and for all of our students, the prayer the archbishop prays during the sacrament of confirmation so that they may receive all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including wonder and awe:
“All-powerful God, Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
by water and the Holy Spirit
you freed your sons and daughters from sin
and gave them new life.
Send your Holy Spirit upon them
to be their helper and guide.
Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of right judgment and courage,
the spirit of knowledge and reverence.
Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.”
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