|"The Church knows that only in prayer does it find interior strength, constructive peace and the union of hearts in charity."|
|Pope Paul VI|
Exploring Our Faith
- Pentecost May 19, 2013
After Jesus had ascended to heaven from Mt. Olivet, the apostles and disciples returned to the Holy City. They remained together in the Upper Room or Cenacle, the place where Jesus had appeared to them and which may well be called the first Christian church. About a hundred and twenty persons were assembled there. They chose Matthias as an apostle in place of the unhappy Judas; they prayed and waited for the Paraclete.
Ten days had passed, it was Sunday, the seventh Sunday after the resurrection. At about nine o’clock in the morning, as they were together praying fervently, the Holy Spirit descended upon them. The small community of Christians had prepared themselves through prayer for the coming of the Paraclete. The same is true at Mass today, every day; through prayer we ready our souls for the advent of the Spirit.
The descent upon the apostles was internal and invisible in nature although accompanied by certain visible phenomena. There came a mighty roar, like the onrush of a violent wind. It came suddenly, from heaven; but unlike storms that strike a structure from without, this one penetrated and filled the room where the disciples were gathered. Therefore it was not a natural wind, it was a miracle peculiar to the occasion. A second visible sign consisted in tongues of fire that descended upon each one present. These fiery tongues gave visible evidence that the Holy Spirit had descended upon them.
Today at Mass, particularly at holy Communion, the power of the Holy Spirit will come down upon us; fiery tongues will not be seen, but invisible tongues of fire will not be absent. There was still another external manifestation of the Holy Spirit; the apostles and disciples were enabled to speak various languages.
After the roar of the wind many of Jerusalem’s pilgrims hurried to the Cenacle. Pentecost was one of the three festivals which obliged all Jews to be present in Jerusalem. Jews from distant lands, and Jewish converts from paganism too, attended these feasts. As a result, a colorful crowd speaking a variety of languages surrounded the house. Now the apostles, who so shortly before had hid in fear behind locked doors, came forth and courageously walked among the multitude speaking to each in his native tongue. It was indeed amazing! Galileans, and multilingual?
But the malicious too were present; they had the answer. Nothing marvelous at all! Those Galileans were simply drunk, and their drunken babble sounded like a foreign language! Peter showed no hesitation in answering the charge. None of their number, he said, were intoxicated; it was but nine o’clock in the morning, and at that hour men usually are sober. What the multitude saw was, in fact, the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy: In those days (of the Messiah), God will pour forth His Spirit upon men and they will prophesy. . . . Then the apostle pointed his words more directly against the accusers: they had killed Jesus, had nailed Him to the Cross; but God had awakened Him and after His departure to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit.
The pilgrims who had heard Peter give this first pentecostal sermon “were pierced to the heart and said: Brethren, what shall we do? But Peter said to them: Repent and be baptized; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Three thousand responded.
- The Year of Faith – Questions & Answers October 15, 2012
The Year of Faith begins in October 2012 with a Synod on New Evangelization. What is a synod?
A synod of bishops is a gathering of bishops, selected from different areas of the world, who meet with the pope to discuss questions pertaining to the activity of the Church in the world. This meeting of bishops helps to foster a closer unity between the bishops and the pope, and provides counsel to the pope. Pope Benedict XVI has situated the Synod on the New Evangelization (October 7-28) at the beginning of the Year of Faith (October 11).
How are Year of Faith and New Evangelization linked?
The New Evangelization is a call to each Catholic to deepen his or her own faith, have confidence in the Gospel, and possess a willingness to share the Gospel. The New Evangelization is first and foremost a personal encounter with Jesus Christ; it is an invitation to deepen one’s relationship with Christ. It is also a call to each person to share his or her faith with others. The Year of Faith, just like the New Evangelization, calls Catholics to conversion in order to deepen their relationship with Christ and to share it with others.
How does the Year of Faith affect the average Catholic?
Every baptized Catholic is called through baptism to be a disciple of Christ and proclaim the Gospel. The Year of Faith is an opportunity for each and every Catholic to renew their baptismal call by living out the everyday moments of their lives with faith, hope and love. This everyday witness is necessary for proclaiming the Gospel to family, friends, neighbors and society. In order to witness to the Gospel, Catholics must be strengthened through celebrating weekly Sunday Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
What are some key resources for the Year of Faith?
Catholics wishing to deepen their faith during the Year of Faith should start by exploring the Evangelization and Catechesis section of the USCCB website. Numerous catechetical resources, prayers and other resources have been prepared for the Year of Faith and the New Evangelization that can be viewed and downloaded for free. Catholics should also consider studying the documents of Vatican II and the catechism. Another resource is the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, which takes the teachings of the catechism and shares them within a uniquely American context and highlights American Catholic saints and role models. Catholics can also talk to their pastors and other parish leaders to learn about what activities and opportunities will be taking place within their communities. Most importantly, Catholics seeking to deepen their faith should pray daily, study Scripture and celebrate weekly Sunday Mass.
- Solemnity of Corpus Christi June 11, 2012
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is also known as the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, which translates from Latin to “Body of Christ.” This feast originated in France in the mid-thirteenth century and was extended to the whole Church by Pope Urban IV in 1264. This feast is celebrated on the Thursday following the Trinity Sunday or, as in the USA, on the Sunday following that feast.
This feast calls us to focus on two manifestations of the Body of Christ, the Holy Eucharist and the Church. The primary purpose of this feast is to focus our attention on the Eucharist. The opening prayer at Mass calls our attention to Jesus’ suffering and death and our worship of Him, especially in the Eucharist.
At every Mass our attention is called to the Eucharist and the Real Presence of Christ in it. The secondary focus of this feast is upon the Body of Christ as it is present in the Church. The Church is called the Body of Christ because of the intimate communion which Jesus shares with his disciples. He expresses this in the gospels by using the metaphor of a body in which He is the head. This image helps keep in focus both the unity and the diversity of the Church.
The Feast of Corpus Christi is commonly used as an opportunity for public Eucharistic processions, which serves as a sign of common faith and adoration. Our worship of Jesus in His Body and Blood calls us to offer to God our Father a pledge of undivided love and an offering of ourselves to the service of others.
- Trinity Sunday May 30, 2012
The dogma of faith which forms the object of the feast is this: There is one God and in this one God there are three Divine Persons; the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God. Yet there are not three Gods, but one, eternal, incomprehensible God! The Father is not more God than the Son, neither is the Son more God than the Holy Spirit. The Father is the first Divine Person; the Son is the second Divine Person, begotten from the nature of the Father from eternity; the Holy Spirit is the third Divine Person, proceeding from the Father and the Son. No mortal can fully fathom this sublime truth. But I submit humbly and say: Lord, I believe, help my weak faith.
Why is this feast celebrated at this particular time? It may be interpreted as a finale to all the preceding feasts. All three Persons contributed to and shared in the work of redemption. The Father sent His Son to earth, for “God so loved the world as to give His only-begotten Son.” The Father called us to the faith. The Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, became man and died for us. He redeemed us and made us children of God. He ever remains the liturgist par excellence to whom we are united in all sacred functions. After Christ’s ascension the Holy Spirit, however, became our Teacher, our Leader, our Guide, our Consoler. On solemn occasions a thanksgiving Te Deum rises spontaneously from Christian hearts.
The feast of the Most Holy Trinity may well be regarded as the Church’s Te Deum of gratitude over all the blessings of the Christmas and Easter seasons; for this mystery is a synthesis of Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost. This feast, which falls on the first Sunday after Pentecost, should make us mindful that actually every Sunday is devoted to the honor of the Most Holy Trinity, that every Sunday is sanctified and consecrated to the triune God. Sunday after Sunday we should recall in a spirit of gratitude the gifts which the Blessed Trinity is bestowing upon us. The Father created and predestined us; on the first day of the week He began the work of creation. The Son redeemed us; Sunday is the “Day of the Lord,” the day of His resurrection. The Holy Spirit sanctified us, made us His temple; on Sunday the Holy Spirit descended upon the infant Church. Sunday, therefore, is the day of the Most Holy Trinity.
Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch
- Pentecost May 30, 2012
The Jewish Feast of Weeks was a harvest festival. The “first fruits” of the growing season were celebrated. In Jewish tradition, these natural fruits were connected to the even more amazing fruit of God’s goodness, the gift for a people brought out of slavery. The feast also commemorated God’s giving of the Law through Moses. It was celebrated seven weeks–fifty days, to be exact–after Passover. Among Greek-speaking Jews, the length of the celebration led to its name, Pentecost.
In The Acts of the Apostles, we see a Jerusalem filled with people in town to celebrate. Could something new be possible? With its colorful crowd and special effects, the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost is a biblical scene made-to-order for a movie: A sound like a terrible wind came, and fire hovered over those collected in a room. They had been waiting, these followers of Jesus Christ who had seen so much and been through a collage of hope, heartbreak, wonder, and a new vision. If the movie were to be made, what would it show, failure or triumph?
What they got was a new way to describe the fruits of God. The Spirit gave them this ability. They spilled out into the crowded city, all talking at once. Some of the crowd was stunned. Others saw the hand of God in what they heard–new fruits.
In Pentecost, Christians see the birth of the Church. It’s worth looking at the Greek root beneath that word too. Ekklesia, the word for church in the New Testament, means assembly, a gathering. Those drawn to Jesus, those touched by fire, those who spoke in a way they could not have known on their own–they all came together and gathered others by the thousands.
We gather at a new Passover with new fruits and a new covenant. This is no movie script–this is news!
The word “Pentecost” is derived from the Greek word for “fifty.” The Day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2, occurred 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection and 10 days after His ascension. The day celebrates the sending of the Holy Spirit to the disciples following Jesus’ ascension. The Day of Pentecost is seen as the culmination of the Easter season.
On the 50th day after the Sabbath of Passover week, the Jews celebrated a festival of thanksgiving for the harvest. It was known by a number of different names: Feast of Weeks (Ex. 34:22; Deut. 16:10), Feast of Harvest (Ex. 23:16), or Day of First Fruits (Num. 28:26).