Cardinal Wuerl's Homily at Rite of Reception for the St. Luke Community
Just as the Spirit of God was given to the apostles, so too today does God continue to bless us with gifts that take their origin in God's own Holy Spirit. There is no mystical divide between the apostolic age and our own. Just as God worked through the apostles and touched the lives of all the believers, so too today does God's Spirit continue to work through the bishops and touch the faithful in our age.
This is why the bishop is the ordinary minister of confirmation. At some point in the initiation into full membership of the Church, the bishop is present to symbolize the connectedness with the local Church and through the bishop to the Church Universal.
That pentecostal experience continues in our own day and is renewed in every baptism and confirmation. Every time we gather in prayer, the Spirit is also present. When we come together as God's faithful people to make more visible the works of justice, truth, peace and love, the pentecostal experience is renewed. The gifts of the Spirit continue to be present. What is new is 3 not the outpouring of pentecostal grace but the recognition that this is our moment to respond to the gifts and to carry on the work of manifesting Christ's kingdom.
We do not do this alone. Jesus invites us to walk with him through life not just as individuals who have come to know and love him but as members of his family - his Church. All who are anointed in the gift of the Holy Spirit are invited into God's family - God's new people - his Church. We speak of Pentecost as the birthday of the Church because it marks the beginning of the ancient Christian community - the formation of what we recognize today as the Catholic Church spread throughout the whole world.
Your faith journey that brings you to the Lord's Table and to the sacrament of confirmation began with baptism. It is for that reason that we began this Mass with the blessing and sprinkling of holy water to remind us of our baptism by which we were incorporated into Christ's death and Resurrection.
Shortly you will be asked to renew your baptismal promises as a sign of your own faith. You will be asked to make a profession of faith and to claim as your own the faith of the Church, the faith that comes to us from the apostles.
When we come together in celebration, we are much more than a people of the Word - we are a people of the sacraments - especially the Eucharist. It is here that we encounter the living Christ. The Church comes to be and we are made one with her in the breaking of the bread - the celebration of the Eucharist. Here we encounter the living Christ, not as a figure of history but truly present.
Our emphasis on the Eucharist - the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass - resonates with the most profound and ancient intuition of the Christian faithful. "This is my Body; this is my Body" - "Do this in remembrance of me" - is constitutive of the Church and our communion with Jesus Christ. Nothing brings us into the intimate contact with the Lord Jesus as fully as does the Eucharistic Liturgy which is the source and summit of the Church's experience of Christ.
In the midst of the Eucharistic Liturgy, we share a sign of peace and then at the conclusion of Mass we are dismissed at its end with the words "Go in peace." We are meant to carry forth from the table of the Lord the grace and blessing we find there in a way that builds up the Body of Christ so that it is seen - it is placed on the lamp stand - the city built on the mountaintop.
Our challenge, then, is not only to rejoice in the gift of the Spirit, but do the works of the Spirit that manifest Christ to others in a way that we bring them to Christ.
Our celebration today is a realization that we are God's family, God's people, the beginning of his kingdom, his Church. And we rejoice in the outpouring of the Spirit in the sacraments of initiation. At the same time, we commit ourselves to live out that blessing in the full communion of the Church.
Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and the CEO/Associate Publisher for the Northern Virginia Local Edition of Catholic Online (http://virginia.catholic.org). He is a former Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church who laid aside that ministry to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Ordinariate, Anglican, Converts, Cardinal Wuerl, Episcopal, Parish, St. Luke
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