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Center for Action and Contemplation

The Divine Strategy

Monday, May 29, 2023

For Richard Rohr, the Holy Spirit empowers us from within:  

Power cannot be inherently bad because it is used by Luke and Paul to name the Holy Spirit, who is described as dynamis, the ancient Greek word for power (see Acts 10:38; Luke 24:49; Romans 15:13; 1 Corinthians 2:5). “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. Then you will be my witnesses … to the very ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).  

Once we contact our Inner Source, we become living icons for the Divine Image itself (see Isaiah 43:10). That is what true, humble, and confident power represents. It is the ultimate meaning of a well-grounded person.  

Paul states the divine strategy well: “God’s Spirit and our spirit bear common witness that we are indeed children of God” (Romans 8:16). The goal is a shared knowing and a common power—totally initiated and given from God’s side, as we see dramatized on Pentecost (Acts 2:1–13). As when Mary conceives Jesus by the Holy Spirit, it is “done unto us” and all we can do is allow, enjoy, and draw life from this powerful gift. We would be foolish to think it is our own creation.  

To span the infinite gap between Divine and human, God’s agenda is to plant a little bit of God—the Holy Spirit—right inside us (Jeremiah 31:31–34; John 14:16–26). This is the meaning of the “new” covenant, which replaces our “heart of stone with a heart of flesh” promised in Ezekiel (36:25–27). Isn’t that wonderful?  

The Divine Indwelling is central to authentic Christian spirituality. Yet we could consider the Holy Spirit to be the “lost” or undiscovered person of the Blessed Trinity. No wonder we seek power in all the wrong places—since we have not made contact with our true power, the Indwelling Spirit (see Romans 8:9, 11; 1 Corinthians 3:16). [1]  

Richard suggests that the Holy Spirit’s empowerment is the ultimate answer to our prayers: 

We pray not to change God but to change ourselves. We pray to form a living relationship, not to get things done. Prayer is a symbiotic relationship with life and with God, a synergy which creates a result larger than the exchange itself. God knows that we need to pray to keep the symbiotic relationship moving and growing. Prayer is not a way to try to control God, or even to get what we want. As Jesus says in Luke’s Gospel (11:13), the answer to every prayer is one, the same, and the best: the Holy Spirit! God gives us power more than answers. [2] 

A truly spiritual woman, a truly whole man, is a very powerful person. The fully revealed God of the Bible is not interested in keeping us as children (1 Corinthians 13:11) or “orphans” (John 14:18). God wants adult partners who can handle power and critique themselves (see Hebrews 5:11–6:1). [3]  


[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality (Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2008, 2022), 102–103. 

[2] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Breathing under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps (Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2011, 2021), 57.  

[3] Rohr, Things Hidden, 103, 104. 

Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Exercise in Grief and Lamentation credits from left to right: Jenna Keiper, Jenna Keiper, Izzy Spitz. Used with permission. Click here to enlarge image

On retreat, the CAC staff used watercolors to connect to our collective grief. This is one of the watercolor paintings that came from that exercise. 

Story from Our Community:  

I’ve gradually learned a new (for me) way to pray the Our Father that I would like to share: “Our Father, who are in heaven and whose essence permeates every molecule in the universe, Holy are all Your Names! May your kingdom come, may Your will be done throughout the universe as it already is in Heaven. Please give each of us humans, plants, drops of water, pieces of the earth, sea creatures, creatures of the air, and all animals what we need for this day for our bodies, our minds, our hearts, and our spirits. Please forgive us our sins, and help us forgive ourselves, those who trigger us, or sin against us, or sin against people we love, or sin against any vulnerable person, and please protect us from being seduced be temptations, but deliver us from evil in all its forms, for yours is the only kingdom I want and You are deserving of all my faith, awe, respect and love now and forever, Amen.” I am so grateful God guided me to the CAC, it is changing my life. —Mary W. 

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