The Holy Spirit Moves Us To Repent – Theology Essay
“That is what Pentecost is all about – freedom – from the burdens of life and the burdens of self. And if you don’t have that freedom, then you have not yet had your
personal Pentecost. You have not met the risen Christ and received his power.
This quote is found on page 54 of Half-Wits. Father Peter is giving a speech essentially about life and how each and every one of us can choose how to live it. There are two different states of living – the way Father Peter is living his life and the way Fitzsimmons, up until this point, has been living his life. Father Peter is living, as he says, “free from the burdens of life and the burdens of self” (54). He also says that his life has meaning and that he is a happy, joyful man (54). He has been rid of fear, despair, and anxiety all because of the “personal Pentecost” he refers to. Fitzsimmons, however, has not yet experienced that freedom or that personal Pentecost so he still experiences fear and despair, because of which he has allowed himself to become numb and had decided to close off from the world.
Father Peter is different from Fitzsimmons because he has allowed himself to be open to the power of God. Father Peter realizes he is just a man. He has come to terms with the existence of evil and has turned himself over to God for help overcoming that evil. When he realized that God was the only one who could overcome the evils of the world and asked for his help, he became free from those evils and became a happier man. It isn’t until page 272 in the novel that Fitzsimmons truly experiences this:
“…Fitzsimmons began to be aware of a tremendous sense of release. It was as if a great catharsis had taken place and all the weight of his past life had been lifted from him. He was, he knew, free of the burden of the deaths of Eileen and Sarah, and he was free of the foreboding that Sarz had caused him. He was also free, to some extent, he realized, of self.”
This is where Fitzsimmons finally begins to experience his own personal Pentecost where he can be freed of all the burdens of his past, present, and future. The personal Pentecost can be achieved only once we realize God’s power and our need for his help.
We learned that the divine trinity – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – creates, redeems, and sanctifies. Through this, we can experience trinification and be made members of the Body of Christ. In addition, the Holy Spirit moves us to repent, which is related to the personal Pentecost. When we taste the Father’s pain and submit to it, we are repenting and this is essentially what Fitzsimmons finally does. He has had a lot of pain and suffering in his life and it is only once he finally gives in and submits to it that he can experience true happiness. This kind of happiness is different from what he had before with Eileen, which he says himself was shallow. Prior to this transformation in him, Fitzsimmons was guilty of sloth, one of the deadly sins. As we also learned, sins are the expression of our desire to kill Christ. Once Fitzsimmons goes through his personal Pentecost and repents, he is forgiven for his sins and can now be free from his previous burdens. That is the true meaning of this quote.
“Hey, Jay,” he said excitedly, “Blessed are the half-wits, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
The next quote relates to what we have learned about the Beatitudes. In this quote, Tommy is relating the half-wits to what the Beatitudes say about the meek, the poor, etc. They are similar because one would probably consider a meek or a poor person to be on the same level of happiness as a half-wit. It may often be the assumption that they could never experience what we consider to be happiness. However, the Beatitudes present us with a paradox, a challenge, and a timeliness that prove this fact to be wrong.
The first thing we are confronted with is the paradox of the Beatitudes. A paradox is a seeming contradiction – the statements in the Beatitudes seem crazy, but they are true. Pinckaers discusses this on page 33 of The Pursuit of Happiness: “As for ourselves, don’t we honestly think that riches, joy, health, and a good reputation will make us happy? Don’t we spontaneously seek these things and reject their opposites?” The Beatitudes are actually the opposite of what society tells us we need to be happy. Ultimately, they force us to look inside ourselves and this is when we can find the bottom rock and realize our need for God.
There is also a challenge in the Beatitudes. The challenge is this: many people are living their lives on cruise control, thinking they have it all. What both the Beatitudes and the events they discuss (poverty, tragedy, etc.) force us to do is stop and think and essentially reevaluate the way we are making sense. The Beatitudes confront us with the “realities of existence and show us what lies in our own depths” (Pinckaers, 35). In this confrontation, we are sent inward and challenged to find joy and find God even in the worst situations. It dares you to believe Jesus’ seeming paradox.
The Beatitudes also have a timeliness about them. Poverty, meekness, and sadness – these are all things that speak to all people of all times. They are not problems of the present or the past; they are problems all people must face. Pinckaers refers to them as “questions which have constantly recurred throughout history” (37) and this is something that will always be true, so the Beatitudes will in turn always be true.
In the reading of Half-wits, Fitzsimmons is someone who seems to epitomize the Beatitudes and Tommy may have been pointing him to this in his statement. Fitzsimmons was broken and forced to look within himself in order to find meaning in his life again. When he was with his first wife, the relationship was shallow – it was not true happiness. It was only once he lost it all and experienced many of the things mentioned in the Beatitudes the he was able to start to come to terms with the bottom rock and ultimately find true happiness. On page 147 in Half-wits, we see Fitzsimmons at his ultimate low when he seems to have lost everything: “I cannot put the events in sequence. The moment I saw the blood something happened to my mental process. Perhaps I went a little mad, or maybe it was shock”. For a long period after his trauma, Fitzsimmons was walking around numb. It is only once he lets down his guard and allows himself to experience the pain and deal with it that he can truly start to live again and find the happiness the Beatitudes are talking about. In addition, he is now in a place where he can realize his need for God and the fact that thing most worth crying over would be losing our relationship with Him.
“I had second thoughts,” she said. “I was wrong.”
Fitzsimmons extended his arm; she came to him and clung to him.
“Thank God for second thoughts,” he said.
This quote relates to what we talked about the very first day of class. The bottom rock and making sense of our lives are foundations to moral theology and Christian thought. When we go about our daily lives, we are continuously making sense. We do things such as brush our teeth or our hair and all the while we are making sense. We learned that doing this presupposes the fact that it makes sense to begin with, so this points to something beyond us, independent of our mind and will, that our making sense must lean upon. This thing is the bottom rock.
The “second thoughts” mentioned in this quote come in when something in our lives interrupts our making sense. Sometimes things in our lives happen that cause us to reevaluate the way we are “making sense” – this is the activity of ethics. For Fitzsimmons, his experiences with Sarz and Amy caused him to reevaluate the way he was making sense, or have a “second thought”. Amy also stopped to reevaluate the way she was making sense. The novel itself shows us four different people, two of which know the foundation of their lives (Father Peter and Sarz), and the other two who are unsure (Amy and Fitzsimmons). The second thoughts are necessary parts of life to further connect us with the bottom rock. Without this questioning, many of us would continue making sense of our lives in ways that didn’t make sense.