Pentecost Sunday: Join Bishop Strickland for Sunday's Live Mass - 5.31.20
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Bishop Strickland in last Sunday's Mass.
Dear Catholic Online Community and Catholic Online School students...
I AM TRULY HAPPY TO OFFER EACH OF YOU AN INVITATION TO PENTECOST SUNDAY MASS WITH BISHOP JOSEPH STRICKLAND.
I have the great privilege of assisting as his Deacon at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Tyler, Texas on Pentecost Sunday. I really look forward to hearing Bishop Strickland preach on Pentecost and am always drawn closer to the Lord when I have the honor of assisting him as a Deacon as he offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
At Pentecost, the early followers of Jesus gathered as their Lord had instructed them, expecting the fulfillment of the promise he had made to send the Holy Spirit. We refer to Pentecost as the birthday of the missionary church for a good reason. Their encounter with the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room changed them.
They were filled with the same Holy Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead. The Apostle Paul would later explain the experience. Even though he was not at that first Pentecost, he certainly experienced the same encounter, and came to know of its powerful, transformative effects! (Romans 8:11)
The Holy Spirit capacitated the early followers of Jesus to go from being a frightened fraternity to a band of brothers and sisters of whom it was said â€˝they turned the world upside down" Acts 17:6) They were empowered to carry forward in time the ongoing mission of Jesus Christ until he returns to complete the work of redemption.
Every year, this celebration of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost is an invitation to each one of us to have the very same encounter. It is the Holy Spirit which makes it possible for us to live lives of sacrificial love, holiness and service in a world that God still loves - a world into which He still sends His Son, through the Body of Christ, the Church - of which we are all members. (John 3:16)
We are, in this millennium, commissioned to carry forward the very same mission of those first disciples who gathered with Mary the Mother of the Lord. Jesus promised his followers, "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father." (John 14:12)
That includes you and me!
In these in words, recorded in that same chapter of John's Gospel, Jesus promised as well, "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live, and you will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you."
Among the readings read at the Catholic Liturgy on Pentecost Sunday is the account of that first Christian Pentecost: "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." (Acts 2)
There is no doubt from their actions following that event, they were quite different. They went forward and really did turn the entire world upside down with their preaching and the witness of their changed lives. Will we do the same in this new missionary age?
The choice is ours to make. As I have regularly written and proclaimed, it is time for all Christians to stop bemoaning the collapse of the culture, stop using the language of â€˝post-Christian" and look at this moment, our moment, as PRE-CHRISTIAN. It is time to get to work, empowered by the same Holy Spirit, TODAY.
In many respects, the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, seems mysterious to many Christians in our own day. When I consider this reality, I am reminded of one of the many missionary stories recounted in the Acts of the Apostles.
Chapter 19 of Acts begins with these words, "While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior of the country and came (down) to Ephesus where he found some disciples. He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?" They answered him, "We have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." (Acts 19: 1, 2)
Too often we live our lives like those disciples in Ephesus. We act as though we did not realize there even is a Holy Spirit, still at work, still pouring out gifts and still making it possible for us to bear spiritual fruit. The same Holy Spirit still changing each one of us, individually and collectively, into the Image of Jesus Christ. The same Holy Spirit calling us to make disciples of all the Nations.
An examination of the teaching of Jesus and the New Testament reveals the essential role of the Holy Spirit in the life and mission of the Church - and in the life and mission of every individual believer. A study of the Tradition, the magisterial teachings of the Church and the Catholic Catechism underscores that this reality is meant to continue. It was not a onetime event.
The purpose of Pentecost was - and still is - the empowering of the Christian Church with the same power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead! The Holy Spirit draws us into communion with the Lord and a participation in His Divine Life and mission. That communion is lived in the Church. The Catholic Catechism, quoting St Augustine, affirms "What the soul is to the human body, the Holy Spirit is to the Body of Christ, which is the Church." (CCC # 797)
May the Lord bless you, your families, the Church and the Nations of the world. Come, Holy Spirit!
Deacon Keith Fournier
Dean of Catholic Online School
Chaplain of Your Catholic Voice Foundation
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