Dear Parish Family,
There is nothing like a sudden summer thunderstorm. The air becomes very still, the light dims and, off in the distance, the faint rumblings of thunder can be heard. Then the skies darken, the wind blows, lightning flashes, thunder roars, and rain falls from the heavens in torrents. But after the storm, one can step outside with arms raised in praise. The air smells fresh and clean. The dry earth welcomes the wetness and the plants seem alive to growth. Perhaps one might even see a rainbow in the sky. In wonder God reveals himself to us in the imagery of his creation. How like the account of Pentecost in the “Acts of the Apostles”!
In stillness the disciples, along with the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the holy women, wait in prayer. Their spirits are dimmed as they recall Jesus’s words resounding in the back of their minds to return to Jerusalem and await the coming of the Holy Spirit. Suddenly from up in the sky there comes a loud noise like a strong driving wind. In tongues of fire the Holy Spirit pours down upon those gathered in the Upper Room and they are filled with the gifts of the Spirit. Renewed in mind and heart, the apostles rush out to proclaim the message of the Risen Lord. A large crowd has gathered because of the noise that was heard and Peter begins to speak to them. Like the parched earth those in the crowd are ready to absorb the words of eternal life and that day about 3000 repent and are baptized. The seeds of faith are planted and the Church begins to grow!
Two thousand years later we are still reaping the gifts of that first Pentecost. We who have been baptized and confirmed are filled with the fullness of God in the outpouring of the Spirit. Father Raniero Cantalamessa, appointed by Saint John Paul II as preacher to the papal household, speaks of this gift to us: “It is as though God’s outstretched hand has finally grasped the hand of the individual, and through that hand clasp, He transmits all His creative power, which is the Holy Spirit.” From the “mighty wind” of creation, to the power of the most high overshadowing the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Annunciation, to the priest invoking the Holy Spirit before he changes bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, God is with his people.
Over the past few months our parish has been blessed with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit: during our Parish Mission, during the Triduum, at the Easter Vigil when 18 people received the Sacraments of Initiation, during the Confirmation of 145 teenagers and adults, and during the Novena to the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit is alive in our hearts and in the Church not just at special events or liturgies, the Spirit of the Lord is present within each of us at all times. Saint Paul reminds us that “we are temples of the Holy Spirit.” We need only to be open and to call upon that Spirit to be filled with the sevenfold gifts of his love: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel(right judgment), fortitude(courage), piety(reverence), and fear of the Lord(awe in God’s presence). This Sunday we celebrate the feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, two men filled with the Holy Spirit at different times in their lives and given different gifts for ministry. One became the leader of the Church, the first Pope, and the other, the preacher to the Gentiles.
Remember the rainbow mentioned earlier (by now you’ve probably guessed that I am a visual person)? The rainbow is a symbol of God’s covenant with us, God dwelling with us. The Holy Spirit, the pure light of God, shines through the prism waters of our Baptism and Confirmation to produce the rainbow of gifts to be used in ministry. In 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, Paul reminds us of the different gifts, ministries, and works: but it is “the same Spirit…the same Lord…the same God who accomplishes all of them in everyone.” During the summer months, a time for rest, renewal and reflection, each of us should spend some time in thanksgiving for the gifts bestowed on us and to reconsider how we may use those gifts in service to the Lord. We are today’s disciples. So welcome the Spirit into your heart and mind. Like a summer shower, ask the Holy Spirit to pour down upon you!
With joy in the Spirit,