The Holy Spirit has sometimes been described as the love between God the Father and the Son — a love so real and eternal that it is perpetually generated in that divine relationship as a person. It is this Holy Spirit that dwells in the hearts of the baptized and inspires the many gifts and callings that we receive every day, throughout our lives.

These gifts and callings are not limited to those who we are accustomed to regard as having “a vocation.” I am thinking, in particular, of the charismatic gifts of laypersons. Regardless of our ecclesial status, each of us as disciples is called to foster a deeper communion between the ordained and lay faithful who mutually profit from growth in the spiritual lives of one another.

In other words, there is an intimate connection among all vocations within the Church: the priesthood and consecrated life, those who are married and single, united in eucharistic communion. To put it simply, in our mutual growth in holiness, priests, religious and laypersons complement one another.

If we think of the reality of our trinitarian God whose Holy Spirit personally lives within us through baptism and the life of grace, it may begin to dawn on us that the different gifts among us are precisely the basis for our unity in the one Spirit. St. Paul, in many different Scriptural sources on which we are meditating throughout this Easter season, develops his beautiful image of the Church as the body of Christ.

In one particularly striking passage, St. Paul says, “For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than one ought to think, but to think soberly, each according to the measure of faith that God has apportioned. For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another” (Romans 12:3-5).

Since we, though different, are united in the one body of Christ, our listening to the Holy Spirit is not only an activity within each one of us, in the sanctuary of our hearts and consciences. Hearing God’s call is also something we do with one another, in communion with the whole Church.

This requires a certain discipline and humility. In the process of discernment, which involves listening to Holy Spirit dwelling in us and among us and in none of us exclusively, we may be both challenged and directed in ways different from how we might have envisioned through our eyes alone. It is not just my spirit or any spirit to whom I listen, but the Holy Spirit given to us all.

Last week, we observed the 2018 World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Every Christian life is a calling — or, to use the word of Latin origin, a vocation (vocatio). It begins with baptism, when each of us is invited to become a disciple of Christ.

The question for us, however, is in what way is Christ calling each of us to be His disciple: How will I personally live out this call in the world? For one person, it may be in the priesthood or the consecrated life. For another, it might be marriage or the single state.

Even in these different ecclesial states in life, however, there are specific ministries within the Church in which Christ might be inviting us to participate for a period of time or even a lifetime. The Church is always in need of catechists and teachers to carry out the important tasks of Catholic education and Christian formation.

Liturgical ministries such as altar servers, extraordinary ministers of holy communion and lectors are essential to our liturgical celebrations, as well as music ministers and ushers or ministers of hospitality (welcomers). Some people have extraordinary gifts and talents for storytelling or motivational speaking, for organization and event planning, or for creating welcoming gathering spaces. There is no limit, it seems, to the gifts of God’s people and how they can be shared to build up the body of Christ.

The Holy Spirit, however, does not limit God’s gifts to those that are clearly defined at any given time in history, and there may be other ministries to which a person might be called. Liturgical artists and cantors, spiritual directors, retreat ministers, prayer companions, bereavement and consolation ministers — just to name a few more — are all part of the wonderfully different ways in which the Lord calls us to serve His Church family today.

I am sure you can think of others. If you have a gift, chances are the Lord may be inviting you to enrich His mystical body with its fruits.

One thing always to keep in mind is that the Holy Spirit often is full of surprises. Pope Benedict XVI stated, “In His gifts, the Spirit is multifaceted….He breathes where He wills. He does so unexpectedly, in unexpected places, and in ways previously unheard of…but He also shows us that He works with a view to the one body and in the unity of the one body.”

Before we say things like, “It won’t work,” “We never tried that before” or “This isn’t for us,” we might remember the very unusual events that happened in the Acts of the Apostles (often called “the Gospel of the Holy Spirit”), where the Apostles and first Christians were often led by the Spirit to do things without the benefit of liturgical books and catechetical manuals.

Jesus specifically told His disciples that they would do not only the works He did (which includes miracles, by the way), but greater ones still (cf. John 14:12-14). “What would Jesus do” does not necessarily mean that we are limited to only what Jesus did during His Galilean ministry.

A vocational or ministerial calling always comes from God. But God’s Spirit speaks in many tongues and in many ways. As we continue to celebrate the Easter season, my prayer is that each and every one of us will invite the Holy Spirit to come into our hearts and open them to hear the personal ways God is calling us. Who knows what graces we may receive and what, personally, we may become!