Saturday, June 11, 2011

Pentecost: "they were all in one place together." The Holy Spirit is a gift to the family of the Church through the prayer of the Church

Individualism is a clear and present danger for individuals.

We were made for community, to be with others, because we were made for the love that only others can give us. The trend of cutting oneself off from others through misuse of PDAs, phones, MP3 players and the great assortment of other electronic gadgets has become widespread. Thoughtless use of these devices during conversations hampers communication and sometimes offends those we love.

Also, the sinful and dangerous behavior of sending explicit images over the internet, because of a lack of perspective which is a symptom of dependence on these items for satisfying emotional needs, has destroyed careers and threatened marriages. This is another kind of individualism which objectifies others through the immersion in the fantasy world of pornography. It is a grave offense against chastity because it perverts the marital act and uses individuals as objects not for love but for base gratification. (CCC 2354)

So what are we to do?

The Holy Spirit is the source of love and Pentecost was the moment the Holy Spirit was first given. This happened in the midst of the people gathered together to pray as we are doing here and now. The Holy Spirit was given to the community first: "They were all together in one place ... And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit." Only through and because of the gift to the Church as a whole is the Holy Spirit also a gift to individuals as part of the community: God works to build us up as individuals in and through the love of the Holy Spirit we discover living and active in the Church, especially at holy Mass.

The Scriptures tell us that the Church is the bride of Christ. As a matter of fact, this image is given in the book of Revelation through a prayer which calls out to the Lord: "The Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come'!" But before the Church could call upon the name of the Lord Jesus, the gift of the Spirit was necessary, to give her the power of prayer which is a grace, a gift from God. The primary moment of prayer is the liturgy, the work of God's people who worship together, particularly at holy Mass.

"The Spirit and the Church cooperate to manifest Christ and his work of salvation in the liturgy. Primarily in the Eucharist, and by analogy in the other sacraments, the liturgy is the memorial of the mystery of salvation. The Holy Spirit is the Church's living memory." (CCC 1099)

The Holy Spirit works in us to make us sons and daughters of the Church.

"Thus a true filial spirit toward the Church can develop among Christians. It is the normal flowering of the baptismal grace which has begotten us in the womb of the Church and made us members of the Body of Christ. In her motherly care, the Church grants us the mercy of God which prevails over all our sins and is especially at work in the sacrament of reconciliation. With a mother's foresight, she also lavishes on us day after day in her liturgy the nourishment of the Word and Eucharist of the Lord." (CCC 2040)

Saturday morning I was “together with the Church in one place” as I attended the ordination of three new transitional deacons for our Archdiocese. I rejoiced to be present as the Holy Spirit used the episcopal ministry of our Cardinal to descend upon three men and create of them three new sons to serve the Church in love all their lives so that the Word and Sacrament of the Lord will work to save many souls. The Archbishop, as Father of our family of faith, brings increase and growth within the a family in his vocation as spiritual father for the whole family of the Church of Washington.

"In the consecratory prayer for ordination of deacons, the Church confesses:

"Almighty God . . .,
You make the Church, Christ's body,
grow to its full stature as a new and greater temple.
You enrich it with every kind of grace
and perfect it with a diversity of members
to serve the whole body in a wonderful pattern of unity.

You established a threefold ministry of worship and service,
for the glory of your name.
As ministers of your tabernacle you chose the sons of Levi
and gave them your blessing as their everlasting inheritance." (CCC 1543)

The Holy Spirit once again came alive and active with Divine power to change three young men sacramentally into servants at a deeper level of their being for the sake of the good of the whole Church. Only because they moved beyond their individual needs and wants did these young men become capable of the great joy that becomes possible only by forgetting self for the sake of others. Each of us as baptized members of the Lord's body are called also to this joy in keeping with our baptism.

Each family of mother, father and children, is a domestic Church.

"The Christian family is the first place of education in prayer. Based on the sacrament of marriage, the family is the 'domestic church' where God's children learn to pray 'as the Church' and to persevere in prayer. For young children in particular, daily family prayer is the first witness of the Church's living memory as awakened patiently by the Holy Spirit." (CCC 2685)

The Holy Spirit is sent also to build up the faith and worship which continues throughout the week in each home which is a household of Faith that each member might flourish in grace and grow toward the life of heaven. Mothers and fathers say "yes" to God by bringing the great blessing of new children into the world and then say "yes" again by offering their children at the baptismal font to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit so that they will have supernatural life through the sacrament made possible by the Holy Spirit.

That life of the Holy Spirit must truly be worthy of the name of "life": one which continues and grows in every circumstance. The love of families overcomes the tyranny and alienation of individualism as brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers practice giving the gift of presence by putting aside distractions for the sake of enjoying time together, in particular on Sunday by avoiding unnecessary work or shopping.

The family prays together in one place, in the domestic church of the home and here at Mass, and in other ways, puts overcomes individualism, putting aside sources of virtual reality, in order to be nourished by the real persons and events before them. When we invite the unifying power of Holy Spirit into our midst through heartfelt and sincere prayer in common, walls of division are broken down and hearts and minds can be opened to one another.

The family practices selfless love as the fruit of prayer through patience, listening, helping and serving. Thus the Holy Spirit is given again and again to the family, the worship of the domestic Church which abides in faith, hope and love.


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