- Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
- Today in Catholic History
- Quote of the Day
- Reflection on Today’s Gospel
Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:
Today is a Feast day marking the birth of the Catholic Church through the power of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost means “fiftieth day” and is celebrated fifty days after Easter. Red is the liturgical color worn by the priest at mass today. The color red recalls the tongues of flame in which the Holy Spirit descended to the disciples of Jesus on that first Pentecost. The color red also reminds us of the blood of martyrs; those believers who [by the power of the Holy Spirit] held firm to their faith, even at the cost of their lives.
I, and the whole family, had a great time on vacation. We spent the week in Mississippi. Went to the beach several days, saw some military and historical “stuff” (Mine and two of my four sons favorite parts of our trips), and ended our vacation with a trip to New Orleans.
The kid’s exposure to the eclectic personalities of New Orleans was a rather humorous event. Their eyes sometimes looked as those of deer in headlights. It led to some fairly deep discussions on the car ride home.
I am presenting a short reflection today, for lack of time to go into as much detail as I have been. Hopefully, next week I will be able to go into more detail of the Gospel reading than here. I pray you still enjoy what I have written.
Quote of the Day:
Sainthood is not reserved for monks living cloistered lives of private prayer, or for martyrs who gave up their bodies to the cruelest forms of brutality. Sainthood is a state of grace for all who avail themselves of God’s holy fire of heart, allowing it to burn, burn, burn, right through to the core.” – Liz Kelly May Crowning, Mass and Merton: 50 Reasons I Love Being Catholic, Loyola Press
Today’s reflection is about the Holy Spirit entering our lives as Jesus’ Advocate
The Easter season concludes with today’s liturgical celebration. Today is the “Birth” of the Catholic Church. As a seed dies to be reborn as a tree or flower, so to did Jesus Christ die to be reborn in each of us.
Pentecost was the beginning of the Church: its birthday. When I was little, and saw all those different famous paintings and icons of the Holy Spirit coming down on the Apostles as flames (tongues of fire), I thought, “Why would God do this? It would burn their heads!” I now know that the Apostles, – – with those tongues of fire on top of their heads, – – represent the candles at the Church’s birthday party. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
Seriously, what is Pentecost all about; what is all the fuss? For me, the answer is simple. Pentecost allows us to see Jesus in an entirely new and exciting way. When we pray, or when we are together at Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, and any other liturgical event, the Holy Spirit – -His Advocate – – wants to reveal Jesus in our hearts. The Holy Spirit wants to show us Jesus’ love, majesty, divinity, mercy, and power. Through the power of fire that represents the Holy Spirit, sins and iniquities keeping us from Jesus’ embrace are burned away.
Jesus defeated sin and death. He was (and sill is) declared “Lord over heaven and earth!” By sending the Holy Spirit, He fulfilled His promise to send an “Advocate”, (a helper also known as the “Paraclete”) who would enable Christ’s believers to be witnesses to His “good news”, and to be a reconciling presence in the world. There is an important connection between the gifts of peace and forgiveness, and the actions of the Holy Spirit working in, with, and through you.
In today’s reading, it is written, “… there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind …” (Acts 2:2). The words “wind and spirit” are also mentioned in John:
“The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
The word “wind” is translated from the Greek word “pneuma” (and the Hebrew word “ruah”) meaning both “wind” and “spirit.” Could it be that the sound of a great rush of wind is a sign of a new action from God in regards to salvation history? With this in mind, I may look at spring storms a little different in the future.
The tongues of fire have always been a curiosity of mine. This type of “fire” is also mentioned in Exodus:
“Mount Sinai was all wrapped in smoke, for the LORD came down upon it in fire …” (Exodus 19:18).
Fire symbolized the presence of God initiating the “covenant” on Mount Sinai. The Holy Spirit, the third “person” of the Trinitarian God, acted upon the Apostles and disciples by preparing them to proclaim the “new covenant”. Jesus previously commissioned His disciples to continue the work that He had begun: to teach, to forgive sins, and to baptize. The Holy Spirit gives them the power to complete His work.
Jesus wants all His followers to be instruments and means of peace and harmony among all peoples, and in all places of the world. So, He gave us the same tool to do His work as well – – the Holy Spirit working through us, in us, and with us.
To speak in different tongues (languages) is a form of ecstatic prayer. This type of prayer is sometimes also called “charismatic” prayer. Interpreted in the book of Acts as speaking in foreign languages:
“… both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.” (Acts 2:11).
This speaking in “tongues” symbolizes the worldwide mission of the church. Everyone speaking differently wasn’t to confuse the masses of people. Instead, “speaking in tongues” actually helps bring all peoples of the world together under one large umbrella: the Catholic, or universal Church.
To live as a disciple of God – – through, with, and in the Holy Spirit, – – is a gigantic privilege. The Advocate (or Paraclete) brings us peace and works through us to teach Christ’s message. Along with this privilege comes a huge responsibility. As the Apostles and early disciples had done centuries ago, we are still expected to spread the “good news” of Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and of His coming again soon. Are we willing to surrender our lives to the Holy Spirit? Are we eager and willing to bring His “good news” to this oft-times violent and secularist world?
Today is the perfect day to allow the Holy Spirit to work through you, and to share the gift of forgiveness and reconciliation with others in your life. Reflect on your need to forgive, and upon concerns you may have with giving and accepting forgiveness. Then ask the Holy Spirit to help bring you peace through the act of forgiveness and reconciliation. Ask the Holy Spirit to burn away everything that keeps you from Jesus. After all, in this case, heart burn is a good thing!
The following prayer may help in finding the Holy Spirit, and in kindling that fire inside you.
“Prayer for the Help of the Holy Spirit”
“O God, send forth your Holy Spirit into my heart that I may perceive; into my mind, that I may remember; and into my soul, that I may meditate. Inspire me to speak with piety, holiness, tenderness and mercy. Teach, guide and direct my thoughts and senses from beginning to end. May your grace ever help and correct me, and may I be strengthened now with wisdom from on high, for the sake of your infinite mercy. Amen.”
Saint Anthony of Padua
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO