Readings & Reflections with Cardinal Tagle’s Video: Pentecost Sunday A & Blessed Angeline Marsciano, June 4,2017

Readings & Reflections with Cardinal Tagle’s Video: Pentecost Sunday A & Blessed Angeline Marsciano, June 4,2017

By the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, Christ’s Paschal Mystery was brought to its completion. The Holy Spirit prepares us with his grace in order to draw us to Christ. He manifests the risen Lord to us, opening our minds. He makes present the mystery of Christ. And he reconciles us, bringing us into communion with God. Saint Thomas Aquinas says that the Holy Spirit interiorly perfects our spirit, communicating to it a new dynamism so that it refrains from evil for love. With the Holy Spirit within us, “it is quite natural for people who had been absorbed by the things of this world to become entirely otherworldly in outlook, and for cowards to become people of great courage” (St. Cyril of Alexandria).

AMDG+

Opening Prayer

Dear Jesus, The gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord are what we commemorate today. With these gifts, we claim that we can travel to the ends of the world to share the Good News. Empower us to share the Good News in every land and every language so that there may be Light to guide all men into Life with You and the Father. Lord, we thank You for the gift of the Spirit that unites us with You and the Father. In your Name, we pray. Amen.

Reading 1
Acts 2:1-11 – They were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled,
they were all in one place together.
And suddenly there came from the sky
a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were.
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in different tongues,
as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven
staying in Jerusalem.
At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd,
but they were confused
because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
They were astounded, and in amazement they asked,
“Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?
Then how does each of us hear them in his native language?
We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites,
inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene,
as well as travelers from Rome,
both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs,
yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues
of the mighty acts of God.”

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34
R. (cf. 30) Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!
How manifold are your works, O LORD!

the earth is full of your creatures;
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
or:
R. Alleluia.
May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
may the LORD be glad in his works!
Pleasing to him be my theme;
I will be glad in the LORD.
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
or:
R. Alleluia.
If you take away their breath, they perish
and return to their dust.
When you send forth your spirit, they are created,
and you renew the face of the earth.
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading II
1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13 – Those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

Brothers and sisters:
No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.

As a body is one though it has many parts,
and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,
so also Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,
whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,
and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.

The word of the Lord.

Or 

Rom 8:8-17

Brothers and sisters:
Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But you are not in the flesh;
on the contrary, you are in the spirit,
if only the Spirit of God dwells in you.
Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
But if Christ is in you,
although the body is dead because of sin,
the spirit is alive because of righteousness.
If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,
the one who raised Christ from the dead
will give life to your mortal bodies also,
through his Spirit that dwells in you.
Consequently, brothers and sisters,
we are not debtors to the flesh,
to live according to the flesh.
For if you live according to the flesh, you will die,
but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body,
you will live.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you received a Spirit of adoption,
through whom we cry, “Abba, Father!”
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit
that we are children of God,
and if children, then heirs,
heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,
if only we suffer with him
so that we may also be glorified with him.

The word of the Lord.

Sequence — Veni, Sancte Spiritus

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!

Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine.

You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul’s most welcome guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;

In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.

O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
And our inmost being fill!

Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.

On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
In your sevenfold gift descend;

Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end. Amen.
Alleluia.
Alleluia

Gospel
Jn 20:19-23 – As the Father sent me, so I send you. Receive the Holy Spirit.

Bishop Robert Barron’s Homily: The breath of life click below:

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.

As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection 1 – A mighty wind

Dr. Scott Hahn’s Reflection click below: 

The giving of the Spirit to the new people of God crowns the mighty acts of the Father in salvation history.

The Jewish feast of Pentecost called all devout Jews to Jerusalem to celebrate their birth as God’s chosen people, in the covenant Law given to Moses at Sinai (see Leviticus 23:15-21Deuteronomy 16:9-11).

In today’s First Reading the mysteries prefigured in that feast are fulfilled in the pouring out of the Spirit on Mary and the Apostles (see Acts 1:14).

The Spirit seals the new law and new covenant brought by Jesus, written not on stone tablets but on the hearts of believers, as the prophets promised (see 2 Corinthians 3:2-8Romans 8:2).

The Spirit is revealed as the life-giving breath of the Father, the Wisdom by which He made all things, as we sing in today’s Psalm. In the beginning, the Spirit came as a “mighty wind” sweeping over the face of the earth (see Genesis 1:2). And in the new creation of Pentecost, the Spirit again comes as “a strong, driving wind” to renew the face of the earth.

As God fashioned the first man out of dust and filled him with His Spirit (seeGenesis 2:7), in today’s Gospel we see the New Adam become a life-giving Spirit, breathing new life into the Apostles (see 1 Corinthians 15:45,47).

Like a river of living water, for all ages He will pour out His Spirit on His body, the Church, as we hear in today’s Epistle (see also John 7:37-39).

We receive that Spirit in the sacraments, being made a “new creation” in Baptism (see 2 Corinthians 5:17Galatians 6:15). Drinking of the one Spirit in the Eucharist (see 1 Corinthians 10:4), we are the first fruits of a new humanity – fashioned from out of every nation under heaven, with no distinctions of wealth or language or race, a people born of the Spirit. – Read the source: https://stpaulcenter.com/reflections/a-mighty-wind-scott-hahn-reflects-on-pentecost-sunday1

Reflection 2 – Pentecost brings forth the birth of the Church

Alexander the Great once came upon Diogenes, the philosopher, looking intently at a heap of human bones. Alexander asked him, “What are you looking for?” Diogenes answered: “Something I cannot find.” “And what is that?” asked Alexander. The philosopher replied, “The difference between your father’s bones and those of his slaves.” No, it is the spirit that will bring life can make the difference. Yes, only Jesus can make the difference. He rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He sends the Holy Spirit to give us the seven gifts: Wisdom, Fortitude, Counsel, Knowledge, Understanding, Fear of God and Piety to his Church.

The resurrection of Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise that God will pour out his Spirit upon all flesh at the end-time. On the evening of the day of his resurrection, the risen Lord imparts to his disciples his great Easter gift, the Holy Spirit: “He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (Jn 20:22). Again the image from the creation story comes to mind. As God created the first Adam into a living creature by “blowing his breath into his nostrils” (Gen 2:7), so also Jesus “breathed on them and said ‘receive the Holy Spirit.’” It is His life-giving Spirit who brings forth the birth of the Church – His Body.

“When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, the disciples were all in one place together… Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire…And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim” (Acts 2:1-4). And the outpouring of the Holy Spirit created the Church to continue the mission of Jesus in proclaiming the Good News of a new way of life – a life of love, peace, joy and righteousness (Rom 14:17). St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, had practice this new way of life by obeying the Lord and proclaimed “How heathen your hearts, how deaf you are to God’s message! You are just like your ancestor: you too have always resisted the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:51). How can I be like St. Stephen who was obedient to the Holy Spirit in his style of evangelizing? Our parish needs Catholic volunteers in our evangelization ministry in order to make our community active and vibrant like that of St. Stephen’s time. Please come…. Watch the video of Bishop Robert Barron on Evangelizing with the Heart of a Shepherd  http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2017/05/01/bishop-robert-barron-on-evangelizing-with-the-heart-of-a-shepherd/

Let’s put into our hearts the prayer of Cardinal Mercier, “O Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore You. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, and console me. Tell me what I should do; give me Your orders. I promise to submit myself to all that You desire of me and to accept all that You permit to happen to me. Let me only know Your Will. Amen”

Reflection 3 – Peace be with you

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

With our present day situation, terrorism and war, conflict and persecution may be quite difficult to avoid. If one knew of a safe refuge, one would bring his family and loved ones there and shut its doors. But Jesus assures us that we need not fear and find ways to insulate ourselves from possible tragedies of life. He tells us that He is with us all the time, every step of the way no matter what happens and that He is always standing in our midst.

He opens our hearts to the truth that we should find peace in our hearts as He lives in us through the Holy Spirit. He has gifted us with the Holy Spirit upon His Resurrection. He said: ‘”Peace be with you”. As the Father has sent me, so I send you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”’

With His Spirit upon us, Jesus completed us for His divine plan of using us in bringing His Word to the ends of the earth. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” With the Holy Spirit in our hearts, with His peace deeply imbedded in our hearts, what then do we have to fear? Amidst the troubles of this day and age, remember what Jesus said: “What concern is it of yours? You follow me.”

Today, let us boldly proclaim the Good News by ministering to the poorest of the poor without too much focus on what we possess but on what we want to share. Not on who will do the work but how we will do our work in anonymity. Not on who will get credit for the work but on who will carry the burden of sacrifice for the good of many. Not on who will direct the various missions but on who will selflessly give more and more of self until it hurts!

Jesus loved us up to the cross. We too should be able to do the same. Doing God’s work beyond our comfort zones could be the cross in our midst. When we give to the poor or give our utmost to community as in helping establish another church in some urban city or help out a neighbor in need… do we say enough is enough for I also have my needs. Or do we give our all until nothing is left for us? Jesus gave His all, His life. We too are asked to model the servanthood of our Lord.

How ready are we to do this in our Lord’s Name?

God gave us gifts to use for His glory. Let us faithfully use them in our mission of bringing Christ to all men and pursue the roles each one has in Christ. Be “men for others” and transform our fellowship into a GIVING community where the Spirit lives and reigns! Let our love and compassion for others be berthed in our hearts as we continue to build the Church our Lord set for all of us!

Direction

Remain united as a Body as we are all united in Christ through His Spirit. Pray for the Spirit to unite us in our mission work.

Prayer

Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.

Reflection 4 – Christian Life is NOT Boring!

A priest was delivering his homily one Sunday morning. A man in the back pew turned his head to one side, put his hand to his ear, and said, “Louder.” The preacher raised his voice somewhat and continued with his homily, which was obviously not too inspiring. After a few minutes the man said again, “Louder!” The preacher strained even more and continued on, but by now the sermon had become quite boring. The man said again, “Louder!”
At this point a man on the front seat couldn’t stand it any longer and yelled back to the man in the rear. “What’s the matter, can’t you hear?”
“No,” said the man in the back. “Well,” said the man down front, “move over, I’m coming to join you.” (M. Ezeogu).

In recent years, we have seen many Catholics leaving the Church. Most of them say that they found the liturgical celebrations boring and lacking in spirit. They were looking for lively and exciting celebrations and they found these in born-again sects. Worse than this is the perception, which may also be true, that Catholics do not have enough passion and ardor for the faith. The famous Archbishop Fulton Sheen said: “Communism is all zeal, but no truth; Catholics have all truth, but no zeal.”

Zeal, enthusiasm, fervor, and energy – all these presuppose the presence of a principle of life and love. When one is in love, he suddenly becomes aware of a new power and vitality that fills him with unbounded zeal and passion for his beloved. In the spiritual life, that principle is the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Most Holy Trinity.

In the account of creation in the Book of Genesis, God breathed on the human form made of clay, and man came into being. After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples and breathed on them, saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is the breath of God that gives life, power, zeal and energy. This was the experience of the Apostles in the Upper Room on that day of Pentecost. They were huddled in one room, for fear of the Jews. When the Holy Spirit came in the form of a strong wind and hovered over each of them as tongues of fire, they literally burst out of their shell and began proclaiming with full enthusiasm and courage the message of the Resurrection. It was the moment when the Church, born from the side of Christ on the cross, was manifested to the whole world. Pentecost, then, can be rightly called the Epiphany or Manifestation of the Church (cf. Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis Christi, nos. 27-29).

In our baptism and particularly in the sacrament of Confirmation, we received the Holy Spirit as God’s gift to us. This is what that salutation in the Mass reminds us: “The Lord be with you”, “And with your spirit.” Indeed, the Spirit of God resides in each one of us. St. Paul categorically declares that our body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor 6:19).

If the Holy Spirit is already given to us, why are many Catholics so tepid and uninspired in the practice of the faith? We proudly claim that we belong to the true Church that Christ founded; that we possess the fullness of the Truth. But why do many of us, instead of being ardent defenders of the truths of the faith, have engaged in religious relativism, watering down the truths of our Christian faith for fear of offending anybody and of being accused as intolerant and judgmental?

The problem is not that the Church has boring liturgical celebrations, outdated doctrinal teachings and rigid hierarchical structure. Rather, the real problem is with many Catholics. Most of us have become too selfish, even in the exercise of our faith. We can see this in our Sunday worship. People come to Mass, but with the focus, not on God, but on the self. They look for an air-conditioned church. They choose the most convenient time. They wear the most comfortable clothes – short pants, sleeveless shirts, skimpy skirts and see-through dress. They want a beautiful choir that will give them listening pleasure. They prefer a priest who has an abundant supply of jokes, stories and gimmicks so that they will always enjoy and be entertained. And, of course, they want to hear, not what God wants them to hear, but what they like to hear. If these items are not met, the conclusion is inevitable: the Mass is boring! It is because they went to church, not for God, but for themselves!

This applies as well with the priest. When the priest is focused, not on God, but on himself, the liturgical celebration suffers. It is reduced into a mere performance or entertainment show. And, consequently, it also becomes boring for him. So, he has to make sure he remains attractive and interesting to the crowd. He has to be “creative”, so that his audience will enjoy and he will be assured of a big number of faithful followers. He then resorts to lots of gimmicks – substituting the liturgical texts with his own words, doing actions and gestures according to his “original creativity”. This becomes all too easy for him to do since the Mass is now being celebrated in the vernacular language and with the priest facing the people.

But the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM, no. 24) is strong in its warning: “Nevertheless, the priest must remember that he is the servant of the Sacred Liturgy and that he himself is not permitted, on his own initiative, to add, to remove, or to change anything in the celebration of Mass”. In line with this, Pope Benedict XVI sent out this pastoral exhortation: “Priests should be conscious of the fact that, in their ministry, they must never put themselves or their personal opinions in first place, but Jesus Christ. Any attempt to make themselves the center of the liturgical action contradicts their very identity as priests” (Sacramentum Caritatis, no. 23).

In other words, therefore, it is clear that even in our acts of worship, both priests and laity, we are so focused on our selfish and worldly pursuits that we become oblivious of God and insensitive to His Spirit. There is nothing essentially wrong with the liturgical celebrations. The only problem is that God is not our focus. One good example of this is the transistor radio. There are times when it emits static noise only. There is no problem with the radio; the station is broadcasting clearly. But the tuning dial of the unit is not set in the right frequency. As a result, the transistor radio cannot receive the music and news from the broadcast station. What is needed only is to move the tuning dial to the right position to get the frequency of the station, and then we get the news and beautiful music.

This is what the Feast of the Pentecost reminds us. The Holy Spirit, the life-giving breath of God is always with us in this world. He is like a radio station on perpetual broadcast. What is needed only is for us to re-focus our own spirits and awareness to the Spirit of God. Then we will enjoy the peace, joy and harmony that God gives. And like the Apostles on Pentecost, we will be transformed into courageous and zealous messengers of the truths of our Christian faith. Indeed, Christian life is not boring, after all! Ang buhay Kristiyano ay masayang tunay! (Source: Fr. Mike Lagrimas, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Palmera Springs 3, Susano Road, Camarin, Novaliches, Caloocan City 1422).

Reflection 5 – God’s Greatest Double Gift

A customer goes back to the store and complained to the cashier. “You are not doing your job well! I just counted my change and it’s ten dollars short!”
The cashier examined the receipt, then checked his records. “Yesterday
your change was ten dollars more. But you didn’t come back to complain.”  “Look” said the customer. “I can understand and forgive an occasional mistake – but two
mistakes in a row is too much!”
To err is human, we say. In Pilipino, we say, “At kung ‘yan man ay kasalanan, ay sapagka’t kami ay tao lamang.” Unfortunately, we have always used this as an excuse for not striving harder for holiness and Christian perfection. As a result, we are resigned to the idea that it is simply not possible to attain holiness, and that it is normal for us to commit sin and be bad. That is what we see now – a total reversal of values. Doing the right thing and being holy are considered unnatural and weird; while sins and perversions have become acceptable and even extolled by the secular media and society.
Indeed, a different spirit pervades the world nowadays. According to Pope Benedict XVI, it is the spirit of general indifference.  In his address to the members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization on May 30, 2011, he said, “The crisis we are living through carries with it signs of the exclusion of God from people’s lives, a general indifference to the Christian faith, and even the intention of marginalizing it from public life.”
For his part, Pope Saint John Paul II had his own observation. He said, “The greatest misfortune of this age is that people consider money as the highest good.” In short, due to their obsession for material things, deemed as the highest good, many people have become too selfish and greedy and as a result, they have grown cold and indifferent to the values of the Gospel, even to the point of pushing God away from their life.
At present, the general condition of the life of the people, particularly in the Western civilization, is characterized by spiritual aridity, moral infertility and lack of unity. This Sunday, as we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost, we pray:“Come Holy Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.” The Spirit of God is the heavenly moisture that gives life, vitality and the principle of unity in the world.
St. Irenaeus gives a beautiful illustration of this: “Like dry flour, which cannot become one lump of dough, one loaf of bread, without moisture, we who are many could not become one in Christ without the water that comes from heaven. And like parched ground, which yields no harvest unless it receives moisture, we who were once like a waterless tree could never have lived and borne fruit without this abundant rainfall from above” (Office of Readings, Pentecost Sunday).
This is echoed beautifully in the Sequence before the proclamation of the Gospel: “Where you are not, we have naught, nothing good in deed and thought, Nothing free from taint of ill. Heal our wounds, our strength renew; On our dryness pour your dew; Wash the stains of guilt away; Bend the stubborn heart and will; Melt the frozen, warm the chill; Guide the steps that go astray.”
Such is the unfathomable and infinite value of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We may even refer to the Holy Spirit as the greatest double gift of God to His people. It is a gift – for the Holy Spirit is given to us freely by God, which nobody among us is worthy of receiving. It is the greatest gift – for it is God Himself who is the Gift. The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Most Holy Trinity. And it is a double gift – meaning, the Holy Spirit was given twice. This is clearly pointed out in the readings. After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples. He breathed on them, and said,“Receive the Holy Spirit.” Then on Pentecost, while the disciples were in one room, the Holy Spirit came upon them as tongues of fire. This is also demonstrated in the sacramental life of the Church. In Baptism, we first received the Holy Spirit, making us children of God, and again in Confirmation, when we are “sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
St. Augustine has an explanation for this: “Perhaps this double giving of the Holy Spirit was done in manifestation of the two commandments of love, that is, of neighbor and of God, in order that love might be shown to belong to the Holy Spirit.”
The Holy Spirit is given to us so that we may be able to practice the commandment of love. God knows how weak we are and how easily we fall into sin. That is why the Holy Spirit is intimately connected with the sacrament that forgives sins. When Jesus breathed on his disciples, he said, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn 20:22-23). Hence, in pronouncing the absolution in sacramental confession, the priest proclaims that, “God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins…”
The Holy Spirit, therefore, reconciles us with God and one another. Unity is, indeed, the fruit of the Holy Spirit. This is what St. Paul pointed out in the second reading. “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…and we were all given to drink of one Spirit” (1Cor 12:13). It is only in the Holy Spirit that we can say, “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father!”” (Rom 8:14-15). So, in the third Eucharistic Prayer, we ask God: “Grant that we, who are nourished by his body and blood, may be filled with the Holy Spirit, and become one body, one spirit in Christ.”
Pope Benedict XVI calls for a new evangelization. In fact, he has already created a new office in the Vatican, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. The Gospel has to be proclaimed in the present world with new vigor, new meaning and new dynamism. But there can be no new evangelization without the Holy Spirit. In this arid and turbulent world, a fresh and vibrant infusion of the Holy Spirit is truly needed. It is only through the Holy Spirit that there can be new life, strong unity and peace among God’s people in the world.
“Come, Holy Spirit, and enkindle in us the fire of Thy divine love. Amen!”
(Fr. Mike Lagrimas, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Palmera Springs 3, Susano Road, Camarin, Novaliches, Caloocan City 1422).

Reflection 6 – The fire falls and frees us

Rabbi Philip Bernstein has written an interesting book entitled What Jews Believe. There he says, “Although Jews are able to understand Jesus, the Jew of Nazareth, they have never been able to understand or accept the idea of the Trinity.” This is a thought-provoking statement. If there is no Trinity, Jesus is not really the Son of God. He is merely the Jew of Nazareth. This is not understanding Jesus. If there is no Trinity, there is no Holy Spirit and nothing to today’s solemnity, Pentecost. But today we are overjoyed to celebrate what Catholics believe about the Trinity and especially the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

One day St. Paul came to Ephesus and found some men who had heard of Jesus but who apparently were poorly instructed. Paul asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They answered, “We have not so much as heard that there is a Holy Spirit” (Acts 19:2). They were baptized with the baptism of John the Baptist. Paul then baptized them in the name of Jesus and the Holy Spirit came upon them with great power.

We have heard of the Holy Spirit but maybe we do not know enough about him and do not appreciate his work. Today we celebrate the day when the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles and the Catholic Church was born. Pentecost literally means “fifty days,” and for Jews it was a harvest festival. For Catholics it comes fifty days after Christ’s resurrection and is celebrated in thanksgiving for a new harvest of souls for God through Christ and his Church.

We believe in the Trinity – three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in one God. The Son became man by the power of the Holy Spirit and was born of the Virgin Mary. He was given the name Jesus. Because we have the Gospels, we know a great deal about Jesus and hence about the Second Person of the Trinity. We recognize the image of Jesus. We have more difficulty in knowing the Father and the Holy Spirit, however. They have not appeared to us as they are and so we cannot picture them. They are known only through their work, and so we used symbols to represent them. Perhaps the two most familiar symbols of the Holy Spirit are fire and a dove. Fire represent warmth, light, enthusiasm and zeal, all associated with the work of the Holy Spirit. A dove represents purity, gentleness, peace and freedom, which are also associated with him. The ancient and beautiful hymn, Veni Creator, calls the Holy Spirit “the finger of God’s right hand.” Yes, God keeps touch with us all through our lives through the Holy Spirit. Through him, God’s power, wisdom and love envelop us.

Every Sunday we profess our faith in the Nicene Creed and say: “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified.” This article of faith rests on Scripture and the constant teaching of the Church. It deserves our close attention.

The Holy Spirit, being the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, has always been active in the world, though knowledge of him and his work was revealed only gradually. “A mighty wind swept over the waters” (Gen. 1:2) when God created the heavens and the earth. The “wind” can be understood as “a spirit of God,” an allusion to the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the Holy Spirit was at work in the world long before Christ’s incarnation, as he inspired the prophets to prepare for the coming of the Savior.

Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and at his baptism the Holy Spirit appeared in the form of a dove. Our Lord was led to the desert by the Holy Spirit to confront Satan. The Risen Lord tells the apostles, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” gives them the power to forgive sins (Jn 20:23), and later commands them to teach and baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Mt 28:19). We know the Holy Spirit accompanied our Lord as he taught and healed, but his work became more evident after our Lord’s Ascension and the coming of the Spirit upon the apostles at Pentecost. St. Peter appeals to him at the election of St. Matthias (Acts 1:16) and St. Paul describes his role in the Infant Church in his letters. He refers to his gifts, ministries and work in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 12:4f).

The Holy Spirit has worked with and through the Catholic Church throughout her history. His grace is conferred through the sacraments, and through his inspiration we have the books of the New Testament.

We know the Holy Spirit as our sanctifier. His work in our lives begins with baptism, when sanctifying grace is infused into our souls, and continues through life as we grow in faith, hope and charity and are blessed with his gifts – wisdom, knowledge, understanding, counsel, fortitude, peity and fear of the Lord.

Nothing in this world escapes God. Nothing happens without his foreknowledge and permission. “Divine providence consists of the dispositions by which God guides all his creatures with wisdom and love to this ultimate end” (CCC:321). Yet people are special and God has chosen to deal with us through the Holy Spirit. He comes to us and for us. He works in, through and with us. This is understandable. We are the only creatures God made in his image, possessing intelligence and free will. And so when the “rubber hits the road” in our lives, it is with the Holy Spirit that we have the courage to overcome temptations, carry our crosses and remain loyal to Christ the King. With the Holy Spirit we get to know and understand God’s will, set priorities and develop values in accord with his inspirations.

St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was brought before the Sanhedrin and falsely accused. In his defense he turned to his enemies and said boldly, “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are always opposing the Holy Spirit just as your fathers did before you” (Acts 7:51). The Holy Spirit can be resisted – beware! (Source: Fr. George M. Franko, “Homilies on the Liturgies of Sundays and Feasts,” Homiletic & Pastoral Review, Vol. CX, No. 7. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, April 2010, pp. 40-42; Suggested reading: Catechism of the Catholic Church, 726-732, 797-813, 1076).

Reflection 7 – The Holy Spirit in Our Christian Lives
Imagine the situation: ten days had gone by since Our Lord had ascended to heaven. The disciples had only just begun to get used to the idea that he had truly risen from the grave.  That fact alone was nearly incredible.  And then there was the utterly curious way he had of appearing to them in the forty days since the resurrection.  They could not simply go and find him at their leisure—rather, he came to them on his own timetable, and especially on the first day of the work week, on what we call Sundays, the first day after the Sabbath.  He would appear to them even inside rooms where they had locked the doors, and huddled out of fear.   Hardly had they grown used to his strange new ways when, strangest of all, he had ascended into the clouds in order to return to his heavenly Father.

Ten days had passed, and they were huddled together again behind locked doors. It must have seemed bad enough when death had taken him away from them the first time, but to lose him again a second time must have seemed unbearable. Their gathering on this particular day seemed no different until they were inside. Outside the house there began to be a noise like a strong, driving wind. Then, without warning, inside the house there suddenly appeared tongues of flame which parted and came to rest on each of the apostles gathered there.  God had come in flame once before—in the burning bush which Moses encountered near Mount Horeb (Exodus 3).  But now the flames that had taken them by surprise burned atop their heads!  Like that bush, none of their hair was singed. Instead, the Holy Spirit came and filled each of them.

The fullness of faith burned away any doubt that may have remained within them. In fact, the tongues of flame on their heads gave new powers to the tongues with which they spoke.  They felt so full of this holy gift that they poured out of the house and started speaking about the marvels of God to the potpourri of Jewish visitors who were just then in Jerusalem, and they heard the apostles in their own languages, in languages the Apostles had never studied or known.  It was just the reverse of the confusion that had overtaken humanity (see Genesis 11) when God had needed to punish the arrogance of the men who tried to storm heaven by a tower of their own building, the Tower of Babel.  In their humility before God, and their trust in what Jesus had told them about his imminent return to his Father in Heaven, the apostles now received powers of preaching that could overcome any misunderstanding and division.

Yet, this wonderful gift of speaking in foreign tongues was only the immediate manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the early Church, and still at work in the Church today. The readings from the first letter to the Corinthians, and from the ancient poetry of the Sequence, bring out the vast range of gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Traditionally, they are enumerated as seven: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord (see Catechism of the Catholic Church #1830-32).  Although they all come from the same source, the Holy Spirit parcels them out differently according to the different needs of the various ministries and works which a given member of the Church will be undertaking.  We need only think of the gift of special fortitude that someone on a dangerous mission will need; or the gift of counsel that will be indispensable in a person to whom others turn for advice.

Through the Gospel read at today’s Mass, the Church would also have us remember some of the special powers which the Holy Spirit began to confer in the early Church, and continues to confer in the sacrament of holy orders. In the passage from the Gospel of St. John that we read today, we hear of the first of Jesus’s appearances to the apostles after his resurrection.  In fact, when this passage is read on Easter Sunday, we naturally focus on the mere fact of his resurrection, and we take delight in the peace he bestows on them.  But in the excitement of Easter and the resurrection, it is easy to miss the reference in that text to the Holy Spirit that is the reason for reading this passage again on Pentecost.

The mention of the Holy Spirit in the blessing Christ gives them is not just to prepare them for the Holy Spirit’s coming at some later time, but already the actual gift of the Holy Spirit as he breathes on them. In fact, it is specifically for one of the gifts that is unique to the sacrament of holy orders: the power to forgive sins.  It was, after all, to redeem us from our sins that Christ suffered and died.  Now he commissions his apostles (and all his priests in the times to come) so as to give us access to that redemption by empowering them to forgive us our sins. And the work, which the Holy Spirit began to do in the Church on that first Easter night, the same Holy Spirit continues to do for the Church ever since.  It is for this reason that we pray, in the course of chanting the special Sequence of this Mass of Pentecost: “Come, Holy Spirit, come! … Heal our wounds, our strength renew; on our dryness pour thy dew; wash the stains of guilt away: Bend the stubborn heart and will, melt the frozen, warm the chill; guide the steps that go astray.”

Our task this Pentecost, and every Pentecost, is to ask again for those gifts that we most need—the special gifts of the Holy Spirit that await those who pray for them. And our task is to make good use of the gifts the Holy Spirit has renewed for the Church in every generation, especially the gift of penance and reconciliation, so that the Lord, who has sent out his Spirit, may renew the face of the earth. Read the source: http://www.hprweb.com/2016/04/homilies-for-may-2016/

Reflection 8 – They were all filled with the Holy Spirit!

Do you know and experience in your own life the gift and power of the Holy Spirit? After his death and resurrection Jesus promised to give his disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit. He said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit! (John 20:22) Jesus knew that his disciples would need the power of the Holy Spirit to carry out the mission entrusted to them. The gift of the Holy Spirit was conditional upon the ascension of Jesus to the right hand of the Father. That is why Jesus instructed the apostles to wait in Jerusalem until you are clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49). Why did they need power from on high? The Gospels tell us that Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit when he was baptized at the Jordan River:

“And John bore witness, ‘I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him… this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit’” (John 1:32,33; Mark 1:8; Matthew 3:11).

“And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit for forty days in the wilderness… and Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee” (Luke 4:1,14).

Just as Jesus was anointed with the Spirit at the beginning of his ministry, so the disciples needed the anointing of the Holy Spirit to carry out the mission entrusted to them by Jesus. The Holy Spirit is given to all who are baptized into Jesus Christ to enable us to live a new way of life – a life of love, peace, joy, and righteousness (Romans 14:17). The Holy Spirit fills our hearts with the love of God (Romans 5:7), and he gives us the strength and courage we need in order to live as faith-filled disciples of the Lord Jesus. The Spirit helps us in our weakness (Romans 8:26), and enables us to grow in spiritual freedom – freedom from doubt, fear, and from slavery to our unruly desires (2 Corinthians 3:17; Romans 8:21). The Spirit instructs us in the ways of God, and guides us in living according to God’s will. The Spirit is the source and giver of all holiness. Isaiah foretold the seven-fold gifts that the Spirit would give: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2).

The gift of Pentecost – the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and the spiritual gifts and blessings of God – are made possible through the death, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus. After his resurrection Jesus “breathed” on his disciples and gave them the Holy Spirit. Just as God breathed life into Adam, so the gift of the Holy Spirit is an impartation of  “new life” for his people. With the gift of the Holy Spirit a new creation begins. God recreates us for his glory. Jesus’ gift of peace to his disciples was more than an absence of trouble. His peace included the forgiveness of sins and the fullness of everything good. Do you want power to live a faith-filled life as a disciple of Jesus? Ask the Father to fill you with the power of his Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13).

Basil the Great (329-379 AD), an early church father, explains the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives:

“The Spirit restores paradise to us and the way to heaven and adoption as children of God; he instills confidence that we may call God truly Father and grants us the grace of Christ to be children of the light and to enjoy eternal glory. In a word, he bestows the fullness of blessings in this world and the next; for we may contemplate now in the mirror of faith the promised things we shall someday enjoy.  If this is the foretaste, what must the reality be? If these are the first fruits, what must be the harvest?” (From the treatise by Basil onThe Holy Spirit)

The Lord Jesus offers each one of us the gift and power of his Holy Spirit. He wants to make our faith strong, give us hope that endures, and a love that never grows cold. He never refuses to give his Spirit to those who ask with expectant faith. Jesus instructed his disciples to ask confidently for the gift of the Spirit: “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13).  Do you thirst for God and for the abundant life he offers through the gift of his Spirit?

“Lord Jesus, I thank you for the gift of Pentecost and for the new life you offer in the Holy Spirit. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and set my heart ablaze with the fire of your love that I may serve you in joy and freedom.” Read the source: http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/jun4.htm

Reflection 9 – When we receive the Holy Spirit, He will fill us with joy!

Exhortation: Ask God for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Today is Pentecost, the birthday of the Church. Happy Birthday, Church! Before Pentecost, the Apostles were hiding in fear. At the Ascension, Jesus had promised to cloth them with power from on high. So they were praying for this gift. Suddenly there was a noise like a strong driving wind, tongues as of fire came to rest on them, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues, telling of the mighty acts of God. This was the birth of the Church. The Spirit brought unity by giving the Apostles the gift of being able to speak in different languages. In the second reading, Paul notes that the Spirit unites us into one Body, the Body of Christ, even though we all have individual spiritual gifts. The Church is the Body of Christ. In the Gospel, Jesus breathes on the Apostles and says: “receive the Holy Spirit”. He gives them the power to forgive sins. This is when Jesus started the Sacrament of Penance, or confession. The decedents of the Apostles are the bishops and their helpers, the priests, all have this gift of being able to forgive sins. So I say it again, Happy Birthday, Church! Happy Birthday to us!

Even though the first Pentecost happened almost 2000 years ago, we can still be filled with the Holy Spirit today. We can still have the joy, unity, and power that the early Church experienced. How can we receive the Holy Spirit? Is there anything that can block us from receiving the Holy Spirit? If we do receive the Holy Spirit, what are the effects? A great place to look for the effects of the Holy Spirit is in the lives of the Saints. One Saint might be called the Apostle of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle of Joy. That is Saint Philip Neri. Saint Philip was born in Italy in 1515. From a young age, he would go to a secluded chapel and pray, and it was there he began to learn to listen to God. At the age of 22, he went to Rome, where he worked as a tutor, and studied philosophy and theology. He began preaching in public where he drew many young men to follow him. He also continued to pray, and was in the catacombs a few days before Pentecost in 1544, praying to the Holy Spirit for his gifts. There appeared to him a globe of fire, which entered into his mouth, and lodged in his heart. He was suddenly surprised with a tremendous fire of love. Unable to bear it, he threw himself on the ground. When he had recovered, he rose up, full of joy. His heart had literally grown in size, so much so that it broke two of his ribs! That fire of joy never left Saint Philip. He worked tirelessly to build up the Body of Christ. He continued to preach, and his preaching became so effective that, on one occasion, he converted 30 juvenile delinquents. Philip became a priest, and would hear confessions for hours on end. Philip would sometimes tell the penitent’s sins before the person confessed them. Once he converted a young nobleman by showing him a vision of hell. He would become so absorbed in prayer during Mass, that they used to close the door, and come back two hours later. He established the Congregation of the Oratory, which drew many into a deeper spiritual life.

Saint Philip shows us the effects of receiving the Holy Spirit—being filled with joy, peace, and the love of God. How can we receive this gift? The same way the Apostles did, the same way Saint Philip, and many saints did. By praying for the gift. We should all ask God to pour His Holy Spirit upon us. We also want to make sure there is nothing within us that blocks the Holy Spirit. The one thing that can block the Holy Spirit is our attachment to sin. Sin itself is not the problem. God can forgive sin. The problem is our attachment to sin. The best way to remove this block is to honestly examine our consciences, and then confess our sins to a priest. As Jesus promised his apostles, and their successors: “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them.” All of us, right now, should examine our consciences. When have we disappointed God? When have we refused his gifts? When have we failed to love as he loves? We should ask God to remove any attachment we have to sin so that we can open ourselves more fully to his gift of the Holy Spirit. This will prepare us to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, especially in the Eucharist, and he will fill us with his love, joy, and peace. So as we prepare for communion today, we should renew our desire to receive the Holy Spirit in all His fullness. Then, united in the Spirit, we will all together want to sing again: “Lord send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.” – Read the source: http://www.hprweb.com/2017/05/homilies-for-june-2017/

Additional Reading:

Philip Neri: The Fire of Joy. By Paul Türks of the Oratory. Translated by Daniel Utrecht of the Oratory. 1995. Alba House, Society of St. Paul, 2187 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island, NY 10314.

Reflection 10 – Pentecost – St. Cyril & St. Thomas

By the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, Christ’s Paschal Mystery was brought to its completion. The Holy Spirit prepares us with his grace in order to draw us to Christ. He manifests the risen Lord to us, opening our minds. He makes present the mystery of Christ. And he reconciles us, bringing us into communion with God. St. Thomas Aquinas says that the Holy Spirit interiorly perfects our spirit, communicating to it a new dynamism so that it refrains from evil for love. With the Holy Spirit within us “it is quite natural for people who had been absorbed by the things of this world to become entirely other-worldly in outlook, and for cowards to become people of great courage” (St. Cyril of Alexandria).

“What then is the reason for the mission of the Holy Spirit? I say: our want. The necessity of this want is partly because of the dignity of our human nature and partly because of the defect of it. For the rational creature surpasses the other creatures because it can stretch out to the enjoyment of God, something no other creature is capable of. Thus we read in Lam 3:24: “’My portion,’ he has said, ‘is the Lord of my soul.’” Some seek their portion in the world, like honors, esteem. But the Psalmist says: “Clinging to God is my good” (Ps 73:28)….

“So how is man led into the knowledge of God? It could not be otherwise than that the heavenly secrets were made known to man, that is, that the Holy Spirit would be sent visibly in order to move our affections so as to direct them toward those (heavenly secrets). Therefore, it says: “Eye has not seen.” So, how do we know? “God has revealed them to us through his Spirit. For the Spirit examines everything thoroughly, even the profound things of God” (1 Cor 2:10). Hence we read in Wis 9:17: “Who will be able to know your thoughts unless you gave wisdom and sent the Holy Spirit form the highest heavens?”

“Thus the Holy Spirit is not sent because of necessity on his part, but for our benefit” (St. Thomas Aquinas, +1274 A.D.).

Reflection 11 – The central purpose of Jesus’ mission

“The central purpose of Jesus’ mission, which culminated in the gift of the Holy Spirit, was to renew our relationship with the Father, a relationship severed by sin, to take us from our state of being orphaned children and to restore us as his sons and daughters….

“The paternity of God is reestablished in us thanks to the redemptive work of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

“The Spirit is given to us by the Father and leads us back to the Father. The entire work of salvation is one of ‘re-generation,’ in which the fatherhood of God, through the gift of the Son and the Holy Spirit, frees us from the condition of being orphans into which we had fallen. In our own day also, we see various signs of our being orphans: in the interior loneliness which we feel even when we are surrounded by people, a loneliness which can become an existential sadness; in the attempt to be free of God, even if accompanied by a desire for his presence; in the all-too common spiritual illiteracy which renders us incapable of prayer; in the difficulty in grasping the truth and reality of eternal life as that fullness of communion which begins on earth and reaches full flower after death; in the effort to see others as ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters,’ since we are children of the same Father; and other such signs.

“Being children of God runs contrary to all this and is our primordial vocation. We were made to be God’s children, it is in our DNA. But this filial relationship was ruined and required the sacrifice of God’s Only Begotten Son in order to be restored. From the immense gift of love which is Jesus’ Death on the cross, the Holy Spirit has been poured out upon humanity like a vast torrent of grace. Those who by faith are immersed into this mystery of regeneration are reborn to the fullness of filial life.

I will not leave your orphans. Today, on the feast of Pentecost, Jesus’ words reminds us also of the maternal presence of Mary in the Upper Room. The Mother of Jesus is with the community of disciples gathered in prayer: she is the living remembrance of the Son and the living invocation of the Holy Spirit. She is the Mother of the Church. We entrust to her intercession, in a particular way, all Christians, families, and communities that at this moment are most in need of the Spirit, the Paraclete, the Defender and Comforter, the Spirit of truth, freedom, and peace.

“The Spirit, as Saint Pau says, unites us to Christ: Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him (Rom 8:9). Strengthening our relationship of belonging to the Lord Jesus, the Spirit enables us to enter into a new experience of fraternity. By means of our universal Brother – Jesus – we can relate to one another in a new way; no longer as orphans, but rather as children of the same good and merciful Father. And this changes everything! We can see each other as brothers and sisters whose differences can only increase our joy and wonder at sharing in this unique fatherhood and brotherhood.” (Source: Pope Francis, Magnificat, Vol. 19, No. 4, June 2017, pp. 78-79).

Reflection 12 – Unity in difference

Today concludes the Easter season, the fifty days that, from Jesus’ resurrection to Pentecost, are marked in a particular way by the presence of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit is in fact the Easter Gift par excellence.  He is the Creator Spirit, who constantly brings about new things.  Today’s readings show us two of those new things.  In the first reading, the Spirit makes of the disciples a new people; in the Gospel, he creates in the disciples a new heart.

A new people.  On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit came down from heaven, in the form of “divided tongues, as of fire… [that] rested on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other languages” (Acts 2:3-4).  This is how the word of God describes the working of the Spirit: first he rests on each and then brings all of them together in fellowship.  To each he gives a gift, and then gathers them all into unity.  In other words, the same Spirit creates diversity and unity, and in this way forms a new, diverse and unified people: the universal Church.   First, in a way both creative and unexpected, he generates diversity, for in every age he causes new and varied charisms to blossom.  Then he brings about unity: he joins together, gathers and restores harmony: “By his presence and his activity, the Spirit draws into unity spirits that are distinct and separate among themselves” (CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA, Commentary on the Gospel of John, XI, 11).  He does so in a way that effects true union, according to God’s will, a union that is not uniformity, but unity in difference.

For this to happen, we need to avoid two recurrent temptations.  The first temptation seeks diversity without unity.  This happens when we want to separate, when we take sides and form parties, when we adopt rigid and airtight positions, when we become locked into our own ideas and ways of doing things, perhaps even thinking that we are better than others, or always in the right, when we become so-called “guardians of the truth”. When this happens, we choose the part over the whole, belonging to this or that group before belonging to the Church.  We become avid supporters for one side, rather than brothers and sisters in the one Spirit.  We become Christians of the “right” or the “left”, before being on the side of Jesus, unbending guardians of the past or the avant-garde of the future before being humble and grateful children of the Church.  The result is diversity without unity.  The opposite temptation is that of seeking unity without diversity.  Here, unity becomes uniformity, where everyone has to do everything together and in the same way, always thinking alike.  Unity ends up being homogeneity and no longer freedom.  But, as Saint Paul says, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor 3:17).

So the prayer we make to the Holy Spirit is for the grace to receive his unity, a glance that, leaving personal preferences aside, embraces and loves his Church, our Church.  It is to accept responsibility for unity among all, to wipe out the gossip that sows the darnel of discord and the poison of envy, since to be men and women of the Church means being men and women of communion.  It is also to ask for a heart that feels that the Church is our Mother and our home, an open and welcoming home where the manifold joy of the Holy Spirit is shared.

Now we come to the second new thing brought by the Spirit: a new heart.  When the risen Jesus first appears to his disciples, he says to them: “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them” (Jn 20:22-23).  Jesus does not condemn them for having denied and abandoned him during his passion, but instead grants them the spirit of forgiveness.  The Spirit is the first gift of the risen Lord, and is given above all for the forgiveness of sins.  Here we see the beginning of the Church, the glue that holds us together, the cement that binds the bricks of the house: forgiveness.  Because forgiveness is gift to the highest degree; it is the greatest love of all.  It preserves unity despite everything, prevents collapse, and consolidates and strengthens.  Forgiveness sets our hearts free and enables us to start afresh.  Forgiveness gives hope; without forgiveness, the Church is not built up.

The spirit of forgiveness resolves everything in harmony, and leads us to reject every other way: the way of hasty judgement, the cul-de-sac of closing every door, the one-way street criticizing others.  Instead, the Spirit bids us take the two-way street of forgiveness received and forgiveness given, of divine mercy that becomes love of neighbour, of charity as “the sole criterion by which everything must be done or not done, changed or not changed” (ISAAC OF STELLA, Or. 31).  Let us ask for the grace to make more beautiful the countenance of our Mother the Church, letting ourselves be renewed by forgiveness and self-correction.  Only then will we be able to correct others in charity.

The Holy Spirit is the fire of love burning in the Church and in our hearts, even though we often cover him with the ash of our sins.  Let us ask him: “Spirit of God, Lord, who dwell in my heart and in the heart of the Church, guiding and shaping her in diversity, come!  Like water, we need you to live.  Come down upon us anew, teach us unity, renew our hearts and teach us to love as you love us, to forgive as you forgive us.  Amen”. –  Source: Pope Francis’ homily  https://zenit.org/articles/unity-in-difference/ 

Reflection 13 – Renewal in our lives, the Church and the world

“Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.” This is our prayer in the responsorial Psalm for Pentecost. It’s the reason the Church can exist and continues to exist. We live in the age of the Holy Spirit.

Without the power and presence of the Spirit of Christ, Christianity would have been unable to change the world and sustain itself during two millennia of persecutions, scandals, and obstacles.

Without the Spirit of Christ, we Christians would be unable to be Christ in today’s world. We’d be unable to do what the Father asks of us.

Pentecost Sunday re-lives the birthday of the Church, and as it does, it also re-lives our spiritual birthdays, i.e., our initiations as members of the Church. It’s a community-wide celebration of the impact that our baptisms have had on our lives and it’s a reaffirmation of the Sacrament of Confirmation when the bishop confirmed that we truly received the Holy Spirit during baptism.

Pentecost reminds us that through these sacraments we received God’s power and presence so that we can overcome sin, live in holiness, and change the world around us.

How does God “renew the face of the earth”? Through us! First, God the Father gave his Holy Spirit to Jesus the Son so that he could successfully fulfill his mission on earth. Jesus then gave his Holy Spirit to us, so that we can grow in holiness and to continue the work of renewal that he began.

If you feel inadequate for any holy task, you’re correct: You are inadequate. But the Spirit of God who dwells in you is more than adequate. Proceed forward trusting in this partnership!

Questions for Personal Reflection:
Are you making a difference on the earth because of the Holy Spirit living in you and working through you? What is the Holy Spirit doing — or wanting to do — through you? Answer this first regarding your home life, then your job, then your parish, then your recreational activities, in that order of priority.

Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
How did you first discover that the Holy Spirit was making a difference in the lives of others through you? Describe a recent time when God partnered with you. How do you feel about the Spirit of God renewing the world through you? What are your hopes and dreams for this? – Read the source: http://gnm.org/good-news-reflections/?useDrDate=2017-06-03

Reflection 14 – Things fall apart

The great day of Pentecost isn’t simply one day in the life of the Church — one solemnity among many. The life of the Church begins with Pentecost, with the coming of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is the birthday of the Church.

The Church is the kingdom of God present on Earth in a hidden way, in mystery. In the Church Christ has already begun to reign on Earth as king —insofar as those of us who make up the Church on Earth are moved by his Spirit to do his will.

When we follow the inclinations of our fallen human nature rather than the leading of the Holy Spirit, then we don’t make the kingdom present on Earth. And it’s so easy to live by our fallen human nature.

That’s why in the beautiful Pentecost Sequence — perhaps the most beautiful of any of the sequences that may or must be sung throughout the year — we pray:

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.

Wounded, dry, stained, stubborn, frozen, straying: This is our natural condition. This is what we will do and be, you and I, today, without the Holy Spirit.

Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.

It’s the nature of things to fall apart, to run down, to break down, to die. Everything is falling apart all the time. Wood rots, iron rusts, even diamonds break down into graphite. Cracks in the street turn into potholes. Mountains erode. Stars die.

In the same way, the whole history of humanity, from the Garden of Eden to yesterday’s London terror attack, is a never-ending story of conflict and division, which is the opposite of the peace that Jesus offers us in today’s Gospel, that the Holy Spirit brings to us if we are open to him.

When we’re in harmony with God by his Holy Spirit, everything else is in harmony; when we resist or oppose the Holy Spirit, the result is conflict and division.

One important chapter in this story, particularly today on Pentecost, is the story in Genesis of the Tower of Babel, which Pentecost recalls and reverses.

At the Tower of Babel, the human race was still one culture with one language. And they were working together to build a tower to heaven to make a name for themselves — a monument to the glory of man, to human pride and our aspirations to be like God, the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden.

So God confused their languages and scattered them across the Earth. Ultimately, though, their seeming unity, without God at the center, was a false unity; its collapse into confusion, division and conflict was inevitable. Things fall apart. That’s what things do.

Pentecost reverses this; the Holy Spirit overcomes divisions and barriers to communication, and out of division people are gathered together into a new unity. We see some of that right here in our parish, where God has called us together from all our various towns, people from different cultures and ethnicities, even different countries, all called together as one people, the people of God.

God brings harmony and peace. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, were created by God in perfect harmony with himself, with themselves, with one another, and with all of creation.

Then came temptation and sin. And of course sin separates us from God — but it doesn’t stop there. The effects of sin cascade like dominos, flowing in all directions like ripples in a pond, bringing conflict and division everywhere.

  • God and man divided: Adam and Eve are afraid and hide from the Lord in the garden.
  • Soul and body no longer in harmony: The man and the woman realize they’re naked, and they become ashamed. Eventually this conflict of soul and body leads to the separation of the soul and body in death, which was never God’s plan for us.
  • Man and woman divided against one another: “The woman you gave you me, she gave me the fruit…”
  • Conflict between man and nature: Instead of the fruit of the garden, thorns and thistles, and by the sweat of your brow you will eat, the Lord says.
  • Brother against brother: Cain kills Abel. Murder. War. Terrorism.

God brings harmony and peace. Sin separates us from God, leading to conflict and division. When we live by our fallen human nature rather than by the Holy Spirit, conflict and division is the result.

You can see why this happens. Probably most of us, when we were children, played with magnets and paper clips, and we learned how the power of the magnet flows through the clips, so that each clip becomes a magnet to other clips, like a chain. As long as you don’t break the chain. If you do, the magnet’s power no longer flows through the clips, and they all fall apart.

We see it in the history of God’s people, the Hebrews. King David united the kingdom, but after Solomon it split in two: north and south, Israel and Judea. In the time of Jesus there were Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots, Essenes and other sects.

In Pentecost the Holy Spirit begins to reverse all this. But fallen human nature is still with us, even in the New Testament church. In the New Testament we see Christians divided: rich Christians mistreating poor ones; Christian masters owning Christian slaves. Some claim to follow Saint Paul or Saint Peter or Saint Barnabas and so on.

And as church history unfolds, the Church is afflicted by ongoing divisions and schisms. East and West, the Roman Church and the Eastern Orthodox. And then the Protestant Reformation, and the endless splintering that followed that.

The ultimate cause of these divisions is not doctrinal disagreements — any more than the ultimate cause of the breakdown of a marriage that ends in divorce is irreconcilable differences that are nobody’s fault. Division and conflict is the result of sin, of pride, of lack of love or disordered love separating us from God, the source of harmony and unity.

God brings harmony and peace to everything everywhere. Sin brings conflict and division to everything everywhere — in our families, in our neighborhoods, in our workplace, in our church.

Right now in this church there are probably at least little cracks among people, in our relationships with one another, with other people, even with God, that could split apart. Maybe a feud of some kind, a quarrel or a grudge going back years, perhaps. It might not be serious. But it could get worse.

Maybe we have little sins, or not so little, that weaken our relationship with God — that might grow and ultimately separate us from God or from the Church. Just fall away, stop coming to church. Many times because of a bad experience. A priest or a deacon says something someone objects to in a homily, or treats them badly in some way, and people stop coming to church.

There’s nothing surprising about things falling apart — about people falling away from the Church, marriages breaking up, terror attacks. Falling apart is what fallen nature does.

What’s notable is when we find things being put together.

That only happens, in the physical world or the spiritual world, when productive action is driven by some source of power, of energy — like the sun, which drives virtually all the life and activity on this planet.

In the spiritual world, that source of energy and life is the Holy Spirit. Without his fire in our lives, everything falls apart, like the magnet and the paper clips. Like life on this planet if the sun were to disappear.

Every morning, when the sun rises, plants receive its light which makes their life possible. We need to turn our hearts to the Holy Spirit’s power every day to heal those cracks in our hearts and our souls before they become something worse.

We need prayer every day. We need the Mass every week. We need the grace of the sacrament of penance, the power of absolution which Jesus gave the apostles in today’s Gospel, on a regular basis.

We need to feel these needs as the needs they are — as the plant feels its need for the sun. Praying, coming to Mass, going to confession shouldn’t feel like duties. They should be

In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.

If we don’t want our lives, our families, our church to fall apart, we need to be humble and gentle with one another. We need to apologize to one another when we’re in the wrong, and to forgive freely as God has forgiven us.

We know we need this. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know!

But knowledge isn’t enough. Knowing this won’t save us. Good intentions won’t save us. Trying to be good Catholics and follow the rules won’t save us.

How can we be saved?

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine! – Read the source: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/steven-greydanus/homily-11

Reflection 15 – Blessed Angeline of Marsciano (1374-1435 A.D.)

Blessed Angeline founded the first community of Franciscan women other than Poor Clares to receive papal approval.

Angeline was born to the Duke of Marsciano (near Orvieto). She was 12 when her mother died. Three years later the young woman made a vow of perpetual chastity. That same year, however, she yielded to her father’s decision that she marry the Duke of Civitella. Her husband agreed to respect her previous vow.

When he died two years later, Angeline joined the Secular Franciscans and with several other women dedicated herself to caring for the sick, the poor, widows and orphans. When many other young women were attracted to Angeline’s community, some people accused her of condemning the married vocation. Legend has it that when she came before the King of Naples to answer these charges, she had burning coals hidden in the folds of her cloak. When she proclaimed her innocence and showed the king that these coals had not harmed her, he dropped the case.

Angeline and her companions later went to Foligno, where her community of Third Order sisters received papal approval in 1397. She soon established 15 similar communities of women in other Italian cities.

Angeline died on July 14, 1435, and was beatified in 1825.

Comment:

Priests, sisters and brothers cannot be signs of God’s love for the human family if they belittle the vocation of marriage. Angeline respected marriage but felt called to another way of living out the gospel. Her choice was life-giving in its own way.

Quote:

Blessed Pope Paul VI wrote in 1971: “Without in any way undervaluing human love and marriage— is not the latter, according to faith, the image and sharing of the union of love joining Christ and the Church?— consecrated chastity evokes this union in a more immediate way and brings that surpassing excellence to which all human love should tend” (Apostolic Exhortation on the Renewal of Religious Life, #13).

Read the source: http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1448

SAINT OF THE DAY
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angeline_of_Marsciano

BL. ANGELINA OF MARSCIANO, T.O.R.
Angelina corbara marsciano.JPG
FOUNDRESS AND ABBESS
BORN 1357
Montegiove, Umbria, Papal States
DIED 14 July 1435
Foligno, Umbria, Papal States
VENERATED IN Roman Catholic Church
(Third Order of St. Francis and the Poor Clares)
BEATIFIED 8 March 1825 (cultus confirmed) byPope Leo XII
MAJOR SHRINE Chiesa di San Francesco
Foligno, Perugia, Italy
FEAST 13 July (previously 21 July)

The Blessed Angelina of Marsciano, T.O.R., (or Angelina of Montegiove was an Italian Religious Sister and foundress, and is a beata of the Roman Catholic Church. She founded a congregation of Religious Sisters of theFranciscan Third Order Regular, known today as the Franciscan Sisters of Blessed Angelina. She is generally credited with the founding of the Third Order Regular for women, as her religious congregation marked the establishment of the first Franciscan community of women living under the Rule of the Third Order Regular authorized by Pope Nicholas V.[1]

Unlike the Second Order of the Franciscan movement, the Poor Clare nuns, they were not an enclosed religious order, but have been active in serving the poor around them for much of their history.[2]

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

In 1357, Angelina was born in her ancestral Castle of Montegiove, some 40 kilometers from Orvieto, in Umbria, then part of the Papal States. She was the daughter of Jacopo Angioballi, the Count of Marsciano, and of Anna, the daughter of the Count of Corbara, which is why sometimes she is also referred to as Angelina of Corbara.[3]

Left orphaned and alone, except for one sister, by the age of six, Angelina got married at age 15 to Giovanni da Terni, the Count of Civitella del Tronto, in the Abruzzo region, within the Kingdom of Naples, but he died only two years later, leaving her a childless widow. His death left Angelina in charge of his castle and estate.[3][4]

It was then that Angelina made the decision to dedicate her life to God (it would appear that she had considered being a nun before she was married). She was clothed as a Franciscan tertiary and, with several companions, began an apostolic mission around the countryside of the kingdom, preaching the values of repentance and virginity, as well as service to those in need.[3]

Angelina’s progress was arrested by the disturbance she caused in the communities where she called for young women to adopt religious life. She was doubly charged with sorcery, the imagined origin of her sway over women, and heresy, because of her allegedly Manichean opposition to marriage. Angelina defended herself before Ladislas, the King of Naples, who dismissed the charges, but expelled her and her companions from the kingdom, in order to avoid further complaints.[3]

Angelina then went to Assisi, where she stopped to rest and to pray at the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, the cradle of the Franciscan Order. There she experienced a vision, wherein God instructed her to found a cloistered monastery under the Rule of the Third Order of Saint Francis in Foligno. The local bishop approved the plans with little hesitation, as they meant an end to her troublesome active ministry.[3]

Foundress[edit]

Angelina settled in Foligno about 1394. She soon joined the Monastery of St. Anna, a small community of women Franciscan tertiaries, which had been founed in 1388 by the Blessed Paoluccio Trinci, (died 1390) a Franciscan friar who had been related to her sister through marriage. Known as the “Monastery of the Countesses”—due to the social standing of most of its members, he had established it out of his vision of having these noble women of the city serve as anevangelizing force in their society. The women lived ascetic lives in the monastery, and, not being nuns, followed a very informal structure, free to come and go as they wished, that they might be able to serve the poor and sick of the region.[5]

Angelina took a leadership role in the small group and began to organize their lives into a more regular form. By 1397 she was considered the leader of the twelve founding members. In 1403 she was able to obtain a papal bull from Pope Boniface IX which formally recognized the status of the house as a monastery. The reputation of the community in Foligno was so successful that quickly communities of Franciscan tertiary women (called bizocche locally) throughout the region sought to affiliate with them. Communities under her authority were soon established in Florence, Spoleto, Assisi, and Viterbo, along with eleven others, before Angelina’s death in 1435.[3][5]

The diverse communities were recognized as a congregation by Pope Martin V in 1428. This decree also allowed them to elect a Minister General (a title since reserved for the head of the friars) who would have the right of canonical visitation of the other communities. The congregation held its first general elections in 1430, in which Angela was elected their first Minister General. In this office, she developed the Statutes for the congregation, to be followed by all its houses.[5]

This degree of independence was not welcomed by the Friars Minor, who had been granted complete authority over the tertiaries that same year. The Minister General of the friars, Guglielmo da Casala, demanded that the Third Order Sisters of the congregation be confirmed under obedience to him. Angelina had to submit and, in a public ceremony held in the friars’ church in Foligno on 5 November 1430, vowed obedience to the local Minister Provincial.[5]

This act of obedience, however, was repudiated by the chapter of the community at Santa Anna, saying that it was invalid due to having been forced under duress and without their approval. The Holy See confirmed their autonomy the following year. To avoid the potential for future repetition of this conflict, the congregation put themselves under the obedience of their local bishops, with their spiritual direction to come from the friars of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis of Penance.[5]

Legacy and veneration[edit]

Blessed Angelina was interred in the Church of St. Francis in Foligno upon her death. Her remains were removed to a grander shrine in 1492.[3] Her cultus was finally approved in 1825.[4]

Due to the requirement of keeping their communities small and simple, Angelina’s congregation gained greatest popularity in the 15th and 16th centuries. In 1428, they had been put briefly by Pope Martin V under the jurisdiction of the Friars Minor, with a specific mandate for the education and instruction of young girls. Even so, their work was fairly apostolic until they were required to become an enclosed religious order in 1617, having taken solemn vows with a strict separation from the affairs of the external world, limited to the education of girls within the cloister. With a 1903 lift of papal enclosure, a wider apostolate was again permitted, and the congregation became known as the Franciscan Sisters of Blessed Angelina. As of 1750, they consisted of 11 houses and 80 members.[3]

As of the year A.D. 2000, they have houses in Brazil, Madagascar and Switzerland, as well as in Italy.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Jump up^ Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). “Franciscan Order“. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company..
  2. Jump up^ “La Beata Angelina dei Conti di Marsciano: Biografia”. Franciscan Sisters of the Blessed Angelina (in Italian). Retrieved 26 December 2012.
  3. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h Butler, Alban, O.S.B.; ed., Herbert Thurston, S.J., (2000). “July 21: Bd Angelina of Marsciano”. Butler’s Lives of the Saints: July. Liturgical Press. p. 163.ISBN 0-8146-2383-2. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
  4. ^ Jump up to:a b Jones, Terry. “Angelina di Marsciano”. Patron Saints Index. Retrieved 2007-07-16.
  5. ^