Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Pink Floyd and Jesus

30 Aug

Is There Anybody Out There? by AperatureScienceDo you remember the Pink Floyd lyric, “Hello, is there anybody out there?”

What happened to the “great crowds” that accompanied Jesus? In our own day, many are left wondering what happened to the great crowds of people who used to attend Mass and now only attend at Christmas or Easter. This may include our sons, daughters, brothers, or sisters.

While different people fall away from the practice of the faith for different reasons, Jesus’s words in the Gospel this week give us insight. “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” Let’s face it, following Christ is hard. Many give up, while others do not understand the value of following Christ and His teachings. This is especially true in matters of marriage and family.

What do we do? We can draw strength from the Holy Spirit and the witness of the Saints. We can strive to live joyful lives that convince our loved ones that we are stronger and happier people with the Eucharist present in our lives. A joyful family life is the greatest message we can send.

The foregoing is this week’s installment of the “Marriage Minute,” produced by the Marriage and Family Life Office of the Archdiocese, which attempts to view the Sunday readings through the lens of the Sacrament of Marriage.

Star of the New Evangelization

31 Mar

Pope and BVMWe now come to the final installment of our series on Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium, or “EG”).

As is typical of many papal documents in recent memory, the Holy Father concludes with some reflections on the Blessed Virgin Mary and a prayer seeking her maternal intercession for the “new evangelization” (EG 284-88).

The Pope describes Mary as being singularly present in the midst of God’s people. As at Pentecost, her prayer for the coming of the Holy Spirit gives birth to “the Church which evangelizes” (EG 284). We look to her to understand the spirit of the new evangelization, for which we fervently desire a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Father continually stresses the close connection between Mary, the Church, and each individual believer. At the foot of the Cross, at the moment of the new creation, Jesus entrusted the Blessed Virgin Mary to John—and to us! The Church would never have to journey in this world without a mother (EG 285).

I found some of the titles for Mary at the conclusion of EG to be quite interesting and revealing. She is called the “Mother of the Living Gospel” and “Star of the New Evangelization.” She is the model of both contemplation (cf. Luke 2:19, 51) and pastoral concern for others (cf. John 2:5). She teaches us about a different sort of strength, one rooted in love, humility, and tenderness. The Pope calls upon the Church to embrace this Marian “style” of evangelization (EG 288), so that the joy of the Gospel may truly reach to the end of the earth, especially to God’s little ones.

What Do We Do Now?

12 Feb

conclaveIn just over two weeks, there will be a vacancy in the papacy until the college of cardinals elects Pope Benedict’s successor. Some of us may be wondering what we as lay people should be doing, if anything, during this time.

In his 1996 apostolic constitution Universi Dominici Gregis, Blessed John Paul II addressed this question directly in paragraph 84:

“During the vacancy of the Apostolic See, and above all during the time of the election of the Successor of Peter, the Church is united in a very special way with her Pastors and particularly with the Cardinal electors of the Supreme Pontiff, and she asks God to grant her a new Pope as a gift of his goodness and providence. Indeed, following the example of the first Christian community spoken of in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. Acts 1:14), the universal Church, spiritually united with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, should persevere with one heart in prayer; thus the election of the new Pope will not be something unconnected with the People of God and concerning the College of electors alone, but will be in a certain sense an act of the whole Church. I therefore lay down that in all cities and other places, at least the more important ones, as soon as news is received of the vacancy of the Apostolic See and, in particular, of the death of the Pope, and following the celebration of his solemn funeral rites, humble and persevering prayers are to be offered to the Lord (cf. Mt. 21:22; Mk. 11:24), that he may enlighten the electors and make them so likeminded in their task that a speedy, harmonious and fruitful election may take place, as the salvation of souls and the good of the whole People of God demand.”

Prayer at all levels—individual, family, parish, archdiocese, and beyond—is what the Church asks of the faithful as the cardinals convene to elect a new Pope. Here is one such recommended prayer that draws upon our rich liturgical tradition, courtesy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

PRAYER FOR THE ELECTION OF A NEW POPE

Veni Creator (Come Holy Spirit)

Come, Holy Spirit, Creator, come
From thy bright heavenly throne,
Come, take possession of our souls,
and make them all thy own!

Thou who are called the Paraclete,
Best gift of God above,
The living spring, the living fire,
Sweet unction and true love!

Thou who art sevenfold in thy grace,
Finger of God’s right hand,
His promise, teaching little ones
To speak and understand.

O guide our minds with thy blest light,
With love our hearts inflame;
and with thy strength which ne’er decays
Confirm our mortal frame.

Far from us drive our deadly foe;
True peace unto us bring;
And from all perils lead us safe
Beneath thy sacred wing.

Through thee may we the Father know,
Through thee, th’eternal Son,
and thee the Spirit of them both,
Thrice-blessed Three in One.

All glory to the Father be,
with his co-equal Son;
The same to thee, great Paraclete,
While endless ages run. Amen.

V. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created.
R. And you will renew the face of the earth.

Lord, by the light of the Holy Spirit you have taught the hearts of your faithful. In the same Spirit help us to relish what is right and always rejoice in your consolation. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lord God, you are our eternal shepherd and guide.
In your mercy grant your Church a shepherd
who will walk in your ways
and whose watchful care will bring us your blessing.
We ask this through Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.

I will raise up for myself a faithful priest; he will do what is in my heart and in my mind, says the Lord. —1 Sam. 2:35

Know the Lord!

9 Aug

I am sure many homilists today will focus on the Gospel, and rightly so, as we hear the critically important exchange between Our Lord and St. Peter in Matthew 16, where Our Lord refers to Peter as the “rock” on whom He will build His Church.

Here, however, I’d like to focus our attention on the first reading, from the prophet Jeremiah, in which he foretells a new covenant between God and His exiled people (Jer.31:31). God has been gradually forming His people throughout salvation history through a series of covenants, as with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David. Now Jeremiah foretells a new covenant unlike the others.

God’s law, in the form of the Ten Commandments, was written on stone tablets, instructing the people how to live in right relationship with God. Yet these commandments did not come with the grace to keep them. They were more like instructions for playing a new sport or musical instrument, containing many “thou shall nots.” They were imposed from the outside and the people had to adjust to them, often by trial and error. The commandments seemed burdensome to a stiff-necked people that was not always willing to be taught or led (sound familiar?). As Jeremiah notes, the people were not faithful to their covenant with God (cf. Jer. 31:32).

Jeremiah says that the new covenant will not be a law imposed from the outside, as on stone tablets, but a law on the “inside,” written on the human heart (Jer. 31:31). This new interior law will become part of who they are. They will no longer need “lessons” or tedious practice, as with a sport or an instrument, but rather God’s law will become second nature to them.

With Christ, we see the fulfillment of this prophecy. The law has taken flesh. The Holy Spirit now dwells within us, transforming us. And each time we receive Jesus in Holy Communion, we welcome Our Lord into our bodies and into our hearts, renewing and strengthening the grace we received at Baptism.

Jeremiah says that when the prophecy is fulfilled, the people will “know the Lord” (Jer. 31:34). How well do I know the Lord? Is it evident to those around me that I know the Lord? Do I joyfully welcome God’s law into my heart, or do I offer resistance, preferring my own way instead?

In the Church’s wisdom, we are called today to revisit these and similar questions, as we recommit ourselves to Christ and the Church He founded on the rock.

Pacifism Is Hell

19 Apr

The documents of Vatican II frequently refer to the Church on earth as the “pilgrim Church.” This image emphasizes the truth that we are a people who are on a journey to our true home. We need the supernatural virtue of hope–the virtue of the pilgrim–to remain faithful to the Lord, trusting in His infinite goodness and promises.

In choosing to emphasize the “pilgrim” nature of the Church, the Council did not use the more familiar term “Church militant” to distinguish the faithful on earth from those already in heaven (Church triumphant) or in purgatory (Church suffering). Yet the Church has not scrapped military imagery in referring to the spiritual life. As the Catechism teaches: “The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle” (no. 2015).

I can fill up this entire blog with quotes from Scripture as well as writings of Church Fathers and doctors that use terms such as “soldiers,” “battle,” and “weapons” to describe the Christian life. Like athletics, warfare provides us with terms and concepts that help us understand our vocation to holiness.

Part of the reticence in using military imagery today is surely the result of our own painful experience of armed conflict, having just lived through the bloodiest century in human history. We understand that war must truly be a last resort, undertaken justly and only when there is no other way to defend ourselves.

However, in the case of our perennial conflict with the forces of evil, there should be no doubt as to the justice and necessity of waging full-scale spiritual war. The Enemy has invaded our souls, our families, and our country, and we need the courage and steadfast resolve to give no ground to his advances. When it comes to salvation, pacifism is a losing proposition. Unless we proactively fight against sin, we’ll be swept aside. Just look at the Church in much of what used to be Catholic Europe. Continue reading

Listen to Your Lawyer

2 Mar

“Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”

This admonition of Our Lord in today’s Gospel reminds me of my years as a civil litigation attorney. Lawyers get a bad rap, and rightly so, but even we “get” what Our Lord is saying here, at least on a human level.

I must have worked on hundreds of cases during my legal career, and maybe a dozen went to trial. The overwhelming majority of cases eventually settle.  On the eve of trial, after months of futile negotiations, the parties see things more accurately and realize that they are much better off settling than incurring the costs and risks that come with having one’s day (or week or more) in court.

Okay, but what does all this have to do with today’s Gospel? Continue reading