Tuesday, April 26, 2011

God Moments II: Receiving the Gifts of the Holy Spirit

It has not been possible for me to have written as much as I would have liked during the past few months, but the stories that wait to be written have not disappeared, and will present themselves in God's most perfect timing. Two months ago I was working diligently to finish the sequel to God Moments: Stories That Inspire, Moments to Remember, but work came to an abrupt halt after I contracted a very persistent case of viral bronchitis and subsequent infection down my throat and windpipe. That is a whole other story. For six weeks work on the book was suspended as God had me accomplish other things.

This week, the book will finally travel to Erin Howarth at DDM Publications for professional copy-editing, and after it travels back and forth between us two more times to make sure everything is just right, the book will head to print and will be published fall, 2011.

The following account was taken from the book's forward and tells another remarkable tale of God's constant loving presence, always knowing, guiding, exercising perfect judgment, always with precision timing.

As the stories for this second book in the God Moments series were first being compiled, I asked the good Lord to confirm that it was His will that the book be written. God’s affirmation was deliberate and provided on three separate occasions.

God’s first confirmation came as the book's cover art and theme came to fruition. At the very beginning I knew exactly what picture He wanted on the cover, a beautiful image taken during Eucharistic Adoration at Ss. Cyril and Methodius Slovak Roman Catholic Church. The picture shows Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in a beautiful monstrance, angels bowing reverently on either side, the tabernacle behind the monstrance with a Bible resting on top, and the Holy Spirit represented as a dove at the top of the picture, above the Bible. At our initial meeting to discuss the cover, graphic designer Roseann Nieman and I failed to see how the image fit into the grand scheme of the book, and so we decided to consider other images instead.

When most of the the stories were compiled, they were given to my friend and colleague, Catholic author Paul A. Ray, who did a phenomenal job with the book. Paul decided on the theme, came up with the subtitle, Receiving the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, and organized the stories into distinct chapters, each of which focuses on one of nine (of the twelve) Fruits of the Holy Spirit.

One Saturday morning while having breakfast with my children, I suddenly understood in a Divinely inspired instant how the cover picture God wanted and the theme of the book fit together. The very picture that did not make sense to us in the beginning was a perfect fit. The Holy Spirit tied everything together. The stories in the book involve the action of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit was in the picture God had already chosen before we even knew the theme of the book.

In another moment, God told me the theme of the third book in the series, which confirmed that this second book had to come first.

Several weeks later I brought my son Nick to our parish, Ss. Cyril & Methodius, for his Confirmation retreat. After finding an empty classroom, I set up my mobile office equipment with the intention of finishing the book. On that day, I was feeling quite ill. After sitting down, I looked up and noticed the dry erase board on the wall across the room from where I was seated. The Fruits of the Holy Spirit were listed on the board. What an absolutely delightful moment of confirmation that was, at the very parish where the picture on the cover was taken.

Despite being so close to being finished, work on the book was suspended for six weeks as the bronchitis worsened. Despite my great desire to complete the book, God had not yet provided the words to finish it, and I knew for certain that He would provide them when His timing was right. Work on the book would have to wait, and that is exactly what happened.

Just before Easter, I ran into my friends, author Nancy Carabio Belanger and artist Sandy Casali LewAllen (who wrote and illustrated the award-winning books Olivia and the Little Way and Olivia's Gift), at a café. They were meeting to discuss the exciting youth books in development at Harvey House Publishing, and Nancy brought up God Moments II. During our discussion, Sandy recognized the classroom experience as another God moment, and suggested that the story be integrated into the unwritten forward of the book. Right then and there, the Lord provided the final thoughts for the book through Sandy, all in His most perfect timing.

God Moments II: Receiving the Fruits of the Holy Spirit was completed one year after God Moments: Stories That Inspire, Moments to Remember, and both were completed during Holy Week.

Stories for the book were contributed by a wonderful group of devout Catholics including Catholic authors, Catholic pro-life advocates, Catholic bloggers, Catholic speakers, Catholic publishers, a Marian Catechist, and a Catholic radio show host. My thanks to Nancy Carabio Belanger, Belinda Bondi, Andre J. Bottesi, Rejeanne Buckley, Chris Capolino, Sharon Cecil, Maribeth Criscenti, Ellen Gable Hrkach, Gene X. Kortsha, Janet MacKinnon, Tom Mulcahy, Sean McVeigh, Paul A. Ray, Susan Schoenstein, and Jerry Weber for sharing your personal and very meaningful stories with us in this book.

The Fruits of the Holy Spirit are supernatural works that, according to St. Paul, manifest the presence of the Holy Spirit. The one who performs them recognizes God’s presence by the happiness he experiences, and others the divine presence by witnessing these good works (Galatians 5:22-23). They are, in other words, identifiable effects of the Holy Spirit. 1

May the stories in God Moments II encourage and inspire others to recognize the God moments in their own lives and consider their vital purpose for themselves and for others.

Michele Bondi Bottesi

Holy Week, 2011

1. John A. Hardon, S.J., Modern Catholic Dictionary (Bardstown, KY: Eternal Life, 2008), pp. 222-223.