Pastoral Sharings: "Pentecost"

WeeklyMessage Homily from Father James Gilhooley
Pentecost Sunday
June 8, 2014 

Pentecost – A Cycle – John 20:19-23  

A violin made by the 17th century Antonio Stradivari 
came on the market in London. It was valued at $7 
million dollars. Two points made it valuable: firstly it’s a 
Stradivari and secondly in 200 years it had been hardly played. The Holy Spirit is our Stradivari. He has restyled us with His graces at Baptism and Confirmation. But we don’t make use of them.  

Everyone Mother Teresa told us is a pencil in God’s hand. But He gets little writing from most of us. We Westerners should blush at today’s Pentecost. Two thousand years ago our ancestors worshipped trees. They attempted to stay warm without fire in damp caves.
They hadn’t yet invented the wheel. But this was not the case with the sophisticated people of India, the Middle East, and North Africa. They were lining up by the thousands waiting patiently to be baptized with the Holy Spirit by the Apostles & Co.
The Pentecost story comes out of Acts of the Apostles. Its nimble prose is almost a daily history of the early Church. The Acts are a historian’s delight.
The word Pentecost is borrowed by us from the Jews. So too are other elements in our Liturgy. We owe much to the Jews and their genius. We even borrowed Jesus from them. If Christians are anti-Semites, they are guilty of short memories.
Originally Pentecost was a great Jewish feast. The Jews never took any gift from God for granted. They spent quality time thanking God for the first crops. The holy day was celebrated fifty days after Passover.
We celebrate Pentecost fifty days after the Resurrection of Christ. We salute not the appearance of tomatoes in our gardens but rather the arrival of the Holy Spirit on the founding members of Christianity. Today our Christian ancestors were confirmed in the Spirit. The terrible beauty that is the international Church was born. Is there any wonder we shoot off liturgical fireworks at Pentecost?
At the point we discuss, the Jesus followers were leaderless. They were scared. They were short on bodies but not brains. They numbered one hundred forty timid souls – the apostles, Mary, and unnamed individuals. This was hardly a group equipped to take over the world. They clung to each other like fly paper. They were in the large room which had been the scene of the Last Supper.
It was to these frightened souls the Holy Spirit came with His wagon load of gifts. They discovered that Christianity was not designed to be a do it yourself affair. (Daniel Durkin) In charismatic language, they were slain in the Spirit. They began to feel like super strong people. They found themselves ready to take on the cosmos. They heard each other speaking in foreign tongues. These languages would be their passports to evangelize the world.
What happened to them that first Pentecost? Take a glass of clear water. Drop in a few drops of red dye. Ah, red water. A new creation. A few drops of the Holy Spirit into our souls and they became a new creation. A little bit of the Holy Spirit will take us a long way.
The Holy Spirit was already the electricity causing the light to burn but remaining invisible. (Regis Armstrong)
The bedlam occurring in the Upper Room was heard. Someone dialed 911 and a mob assembled. It was an international crowd. They watched the freshly confirmed apostles rush from the Upper Room. They spoke in various tongues about Jesus. The Church was jumping into the fast lane. The world would never be the same.
Many say, “If the Holy Spirit gave us the same gifts, what a job we’d pull off for Christ! We’d turn our town upside down.” The good news is that we received the same cornucopia of gifts at Baptism and Confirmation. These were our personal Pentecosts. The bad news is that we have never thrown the on switch to use these gifts. Most of them sleep. Think of the Holy Spirit as the generous uncle everyone wants. He loads us down with wonderful gifts at our Baptisms and then doubles the ante at Confirmation.
But the gifts become like the Stradivari violin in London. Though increasing in value, they are hardly used.
Today is a good day to blow the dust off our spirits and play sweet music. The Spirit will assist us. He is the master of surprises making the impossible possible. He reminds us it does not require great people to do great things – just unselfish ones. (Patricia Opatz) This Pentecost become God’s well worn pencil. Leave your signature on the world.
Jesus does not need lawyers. He needs witnesses. (Paul VI)

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
June 8, 2014

Pentecost Sunday, Year A—June 8, 2014
Gospel (Read Jn 20:19-23)
Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus surprised the disciples “on the evening of that first day of the week” by appearing in their midst without using a door (locked “for fear of the Jews”). We wonder if He had to calm them down a bit, because He said, twice, “Peace be with you.” We can imagine how startled they were. He showed them His wounds, in case they thought He was a ghost. Then, Jesus gave the apostles an astonishing commission: “As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.”

Solemnity of Pentecost: All Different All One
When I think of  Pentecost Sunday, I have to remember Pentecost of 1984.  I was a young priest then, visiting Rome with my parents.  I was able to assist Pope John Paul II at the solemn Pentecost Mass in St. Peters Basilica. It was just me and the Pope, and about 65 other priests, a dozen or so cardinals, an assortment of bishops and about 10,000 people. Boy did I behave!  There is quite a lot I could tell you about the experience, but what really hit me was the universality of the Church. The  priests who assisted were from all over the world.  The Pope gave his homily in several languages and then confirmed people from all over the world. I was and still am fascinated by the way that we are so different one from the other; yet we are all the same in our faith. 

Reflections for Pentecost Sunday
They were all filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:4)

Today we celebrate that great day when the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and the apostles. The power of God was on display in a dramatic way as three thousand people accepted the gospel, repented, were baptized, and joined the Church.

What followed was an exciting and continuous display of God’s power. People came together for prayer and the Eucharist. Many were healed of sicknesses or delivered from demons. Some felt compelled to care for the poor, and others, to proclaim the gospel abroad. Despite tensions from within and persecution from without, the Church continued to grow, all because the Spirit was at work.

The Feast of Pentecost: The Gifts and Charisms of The Holy Spirit
A reflection on the meaning of the Feast of Pentecost and the person, gifts and charisms of the Holy Spirit. The Feast of Pentecost, originally the Jewish Feast of weeks commemorating the gift of the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai 50 days after the Exodus, was the day when the Holy Spirit was poured out in the Upper Room upon the apostles and other disciples in the form of tongues of fire and a strong wind, fifty days after Easter Sunday, the day marking the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  Pentecost is seen as the birthday of the Church.

Gift of Piety Fosters Fraternal Solidarity, Pope Says
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis reflected of the gift of piety at his general audience June 4, explaining that it is not just a superficial feeling, but, rather, a religious reality that leads us closer to God and to our neighbor.

“In this sense, piety includes the ability of rejoicing with those who are cheerful and of crying with those who cry, of reaching out to those who are alone or anxious, to correct those who err, to console the afflicted, to care for and help those who happen to be in need,” the Pope told those gathered in St. Peter’s Square June 4.

Make Christ Present, Wherever You Are
Katharine made her First Holy Communion last Sunday – a momentous event, a holy moment! Naturally, she received some gifts to mark the occasion: A scapular (the plastic bothered her; I’ll get her a cloth one), a child’s Bible, and a beautiful ceramic holy water font. The font clearly caught her fancy, and she asked me that same evening how we could get the “special” water for it.

Fortunately, I already had a small bottle of holy water in the house, so we hung up the font near her bed, filled the reservoir, and then dipped our fingers to bless ourselves. She went to bed very content – happy to have received Jesus in one Sacrament earlier in the day, and then encounter him again in that mini-Sacramental reminder just before sleep.

A Faith-Filled Heart
Imagine with me now that you are an 18-year-old college freshman and your were just admitted into the hospital. You had awoken earlier, in the middle of the night, with an extremely uncomfortable pain in your arms and chest. You’re now alone, stressed, and scared beyond belief. Finally, after what seems like hours, a doctor walks in and is sporting an awkwardly calming, yet alarming, grin as he shakes your hand and pulls up a chair. He sits down for a moment as he looks at his clip board, then slowly raises his eyes to make contact with yours, and he tells you, “I’m extremely sorry to tell you this, but we have found enzymes in your blood stream that lead us to believe you and your heart are dying.”

Jesus teaches us not merely how to avoid temptation, but how to be prepared for temptations to come
The battle against temptation in our lives is, of course, an ongoing struggle. Some moments and periods of our life provide more temptation than others, but no day goes by without at least some sort of temptation. While it is important to battle temptation in the moment, it is also important to build ourselves up by grace so that in moments of temptation we can draw on that strength and preparation to more easily win the battle.

Clothe the Naked: Acknowledging the Need for Human Dignity
Nake is an archaic English word meaning “to strip clothes off.” To be “naked,” therefore, is to be in a state of “having had your clothes stripped off.”

Why does this bit of pedantry matter? Because it speaks volumes about what our ancestors regarded as the natural state of man.

The Friendship of the Saints
Solomon says, “A faithful friend is the medicine of life and immor­tality”; and he adds the significant words: “They that fear the Lord shall find him.” The Old Testament delights us with the story of the friendship of David and Jonathan. “Jonathan loved David as his own soul”; and David’s love for Jonathan “passed the love of woman.”

Natural Law and the Heart of Man
Is there anything so wicked as a man trying to silence his  conscience?  It is a willful act that happens in stages: Bit by bit, incident by incident, rationalization by rationalization, the voice of a man’s conscience can be stifled—that still small voice within him eventually becomes fainter, until his heart turns to stone and covers the voice within.

How to Share the Gospel With People Who Don’t Care
We are in a situation in the West that the Christian church has never experienced before. We have a good news to proclaim, but those who need to hear are deaf.

Pope Francis Encourages Married Couples
VATICAN CITY — In his June 2 homily, Pope Francis addressed married couples at the Vatican, pointing to fidelity, perseverance and fruitfulness as the three characteristics of authentic Christian love.

Using the fidelity of Christ to sinners as the ultimate example, Pope Francis commented: “It is a faithful love. It is a persevering love. He never tires of loving his Church.”

The Final Confrontation
“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel….

If You Can’t Make Daily Mass

Our spiritual lives are centered upon Jesus’ sacrifice, made present in the Eucharist. Probably the majority of us however, have schedules that keep us from attending Mass on a daily basis. It may come as a surprise to learn that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph – and the majority of Jews at the time – found themselves in an analogous situation. They also arrived at an ingenious solution that we can make our own.

Overcoming Loneliness
Feeling down in the dumps?  Feeling like nobody really understands nor really cares? Feeling dreary, dark and bewildered and confused?  Feeling as if life does not have any real meaning and purpose?  Feel like just throwing in the towel and saying: I have had enough!

St. Ignatius of Loyola would call this a state of desolation. One of the most common manifestations of desolation is that of loneliness—you feel alone in the world and nobody really seems to care about who you are and where you are heading in your life.

The Double Helix of Faith and Family
Over sixty years ago, in a small laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin, Harry Harlow devised a series of groundbreaking and controversial studies.  Using infant macaque monkeys, Harlow was interested in examining early attachment in order to test theories posited by John Bowlby and others about the importance of love and maternal interaction.  He and his students created two “surrogate mothers.”  One was simply made of wire mesh while the other was covered in cloth.

Hope for Eternal Joy
You are created to know God, love God and serve God in this life so as to be happy with Him forever in Heaven. Man is created to praise God, reverence God, serve God and by means of this to save his soul.

These concise and clear statements should motivate our thinking, our decisions, and our actions during the whole course of our life. This should be our philosophy of life: heaven. Our life has as its primary purpose to do all we can, at all times, places and circumstances to attain our goal—eternal life in God. May we long for heaven:  “As the deer yearns for the running waters so my soul longs for you my Lord and my God.

10 Good Reasons to Save Sex Until Marriage
Purity and chastity seem to be virtues that have gone out of fashion. The crisis of values ​​has led many young people to see sex as the center of their dating relationship. Sexually active men are considered “winners” and women “experienced,” while someone who saves him or herself in chastity is taken to be a prude, sexually incapable, or repressed by the Church. However, the reality is completely the opposite. Let’s take a look at 10 reasons to promote sexual abstinence among our youth.

What Happens When You Don’t Believe in Christ…
…you don’t believe nothing. You’ll believe anything.

I’ll leave the Chesterton fans to quote the exact quote.

Someone else has observed that the rise of rationalism in a society will always bring about more superstition. Another observation was that when sacraments are denied witchcraft starts to be on the rise.

Do Muslims Worship the Same God Catholics Do?
CCC 841, quoting the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium 16, from Vatican II, declared:

The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.

Some will say this declaration does not indicate Muslims believe in the same God we do because it only says “Muslims… profess to hold the faith of Abraham,” not that they actually do. So what gives?

Evangelizing Jehovah’s Witnesses
Last month I posted an entry on evangelizing Mormons. I figured it would be appropriate to follow that up with some tips for how to evangelize another group of people you’re likely to meet on your doorstep: Jehovah’s Witnesses. (If you’re unfamiliar with their beliefs click here and here.)

Why Do So Many Churches Have “First Church of” in their Names?
Reader Nick from New York wrote in to ask, “Why do so many churches have ‘First’ in their names? Why do we rarely see ‘Second’ or ‘Third’ churches?”

The blog at Open Bible did a neat little experiment a few years ago, using a random sample of 300,000 church names to look at some of the naming patterns of churches in the U.S.

Looking at their data, you can see the different branches of Christianity favor their own naming conventions. The Catholics tend to use the names of saints, while some of the Protestant denominations are a little more straightforward and descriptive, and often use their location and the order they were founded in their names. That is, the “First Baptist Church of [Town]” got that name because it was the first Baptist church founded in that area.

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