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Reflections on Catholic Faith - June 2009 - The Spirit of Pentecost

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June 8, 2009
Dear friends The 'Deke' is taking some time off! My wife and I are leaving Tuesday for a three week period. It is part family get together in two different states and part of the time away is a priest/deacon retreat and conference at Steubenville University in OH. I'm also traveling to Texas for a Catholic New Media Conference. By the way you are invited to come to this conference it's in San Antonio and it starts on Friday evening June 26th and ends Sunday with a special Mass. In between, there are some wonderful speakers (including Patrick Madrid), break-out sessions and a great Catholic songbird and musician (Sarah Bauer). Go to www.SQPN.com for information about Catholic New Media Conference.

The Holy Spirit and the 'Be-Attitude'

I’ve listened more attentively in recent years to sermons about the Holy Spirit – in fact I believe my re-version to the faith is completely due to God’s work through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit of Pentecost is the Spirit which animates the Church. It is the Spirit which, by the will of the Father and through the intercession of Christ the Son, brings about good out of evil – and sometimes provides healings and other Divine interventions.

Theory you suggest? Is this all some sort of theological theory? Or sound- good type of religious ‘stuff.’ Given that God is ‘spirit’ and therefore not human and worldly – all we can do is judge by things that don’t bear easy and scientific proof.

I’m just finishing re-reading about the story of Fatima. Did you know that the sun ‘danced’ and changed colors and did other non-fixed planet type actions? Do you know that rain-soaked people found their clothes dried instantaneously? That healings and other non-humanly understood actions took place? Much of this is documented – not just in Church-related documents… but also the world news. [Note: our pastor is a triple Ph.D. … as in highly educated priest…. he isn’t very much into emotion and pious little things… he went to historical records and commercial newspapers to see if there was any documentation about the October 13 th, 1917 day at Fatima in Portugal. He tells us that there is documentation about what certainly seems like miraculous events!]

I’m about ready to go to Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio for an annual summer retreat and conference for priests and deacons. In prior years I’ve witnessed people ‘slain in the spirit.’ I’ve seen people speaking in tongues (and not only there but elsewhere). I’ve heard very believable testimony about healings and ridding people of demons…

For God’s purposes and in God’s time – we may see spectacular work of the Holy Spirit around us. But perhaps it is fair to say that God is more ‘every day’ in the way He works with us. Someone once said that coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.

The Spirit of Pentecost is still very much alive and active. I’ve seen some evidence and heard of Churches that have come to life. Certainly it could be a new pastor that is brought in that is the tool – but it is the Spirit that accomplishes God’s will.

And today, we have the beatitudes as part of our readings. What I need to pray for – and perhaps you’d ask me to pray for you as well – what I need is to pray for the Spirit to help me develop and grow a ‘Be’-attitude.

“Come Holy Spirit, come. Burn from me all the sin and weakness that darkens my vision and keeps me bound to my old ways of doing things. Help me to be OPEN – to want to recognize not only great works of power – but quiet whisperings that tell me the ‘next right thing to do.’

There are people who are hungry and losing their homes… come Holy Spirit – speak to me of what to do. There are people who are alone and confused – I’m not good at consoling many people… come Holy Spirit. Let me be a sponge absorbing their struggles and emotions. There are people who are meek – while I am not. Help me to recognize and praise their good actions and lower my trumpet for my own fanfare.

There is an old saying: “The best vitamin for a Christian is B-1.” And so I pray to the Holy Spirit – I want to be a better Christian – I do. Whatever your gift and whatever the Father’s will – help me to most often have a “Be” Attitude – about all things – especially the Beatitudes that Christ shared from the mountain.

June 1, 2009


The first two years in deacon formation, we studied philosophy among our other classes. Philosophy wasn’t a favorite subject by a long stretch – but among our professors was a husband and wife teaching team. I really, really liked the wife as a teacher – her name was Dr. Susan Selner Wright. Dr. Wright had a way of making philosophy come to life using many day-to-day examples. We also had a wonderful nun (Sr. Prudence Allen) who taught philosophy – she’s a well-known author and speaker, most especially on topics related to women in the Church.

The dictionary says that philosophy is the rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct. And it is said that Justin Martyr never ended his search for religious truth even after he converted to Christianity.

He lived from 100 to165AD when he and six companions were put to death (beheadings) for refusing to sacrifice to the Roman gods. Justin had studied pagan philosophies before finding Christianity. During his Christian life, he defended our religion against the attacks and misunderstandings of the pagans. Two of his works are still in existence.

This is the season of Pentecost – this is the time when we beg the Holy Spirit to shower us… to shower the Church with His gifts.

Can we not find among us new people who will take up the ‘defense’ of our faith against those in the public and relativistic crowds? Who among those reading these words will be called by the Spirit to defend Humanae Vitae and the teachings of the Church on true love and life and against the use of contraception? Who will defend the pre-born child in the womb?

Which readers will be willing, not to give up their lives as did Justin Martyr… but who will be ‘nudged’ by the Spirit of Pentecost to speak in favor of marriage as a holy sacrament between one man and one woman? (And I ask this specific question of a reader who may have someone in their family who is living an alternate lifestyle.)

Who might spend some time with the words and works of someone like the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen and learn a philosophy of God’s love expressed not in relativism and compromise but in truth?

The Holy Spirit is waiting for someone to respond to Grace and go back to a study of Fatima and the words and teachings of the Blessed Virgin Mary. What is the relevance of her words and call from back then?

In Justin’s work called Dialogue with Trypho, number 3, he wrote these words: “Philosophy is the knowledge of that which exists, and a clear understanding of the truth; and happiness is the reward of such knowledge and understanding"

Happiness is the reward of knowledge and understanding… how many so-called-believers shy away from this… hoping to avoid knowledge and firm convictions while espousing truth.

Archbishop Charles Chaput in his book “Living the Catholic Faith” wrote these words:

“God doesn’t need ‘nice’ Christians, Christians who are personally opposed to sin, but too polite to do anything about it publicly.”

The Spirit of Pentecost doesn’t call us to get along. The Spirit calls us to be activists.

Reading 1
Tb 1:3; 2:1a-8

I, Tobit, have walked all the days of my life on the paths of truth and righteousness. I performed many charitable works for my kinsmen and my people who had been deported with me to Nineveh, in Assyria.

On our festival of Pentecost, the feast of Weeks, a fine dinner was prepared for me, and I reclined to eat. The table was set for me, and when many different dishes were placed before me, I said to my son Tobiah: "My son, go out and try to find a poor man from among our kinsmen exiled here in Nineveh.

If he is a sincere worshiper of God, bring him back with you, so that he can share this meal with me. Indeed, son, I shall wait for you to come back." Tobiah went out to look for some poor kinsman of ours. When he returned he exclaimed, "Father!" I said to him, "What is it, son?" He answered, "Father, one of our people has been murdered! His body lies in the market place where he was just strangled!" I sprang to my feet, leaving the dinner untouched; and I carried the dead man from the street and put him in one of the rooms, so that I might bury him after sunset. Returning to my own quarters, I washed myself and ate my food in sorrow. I was reminded of the oracle pronounced by the prophet Amos against Bethel: "All your festivals shall be turned into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation."

And I wept. Then at sunset I went out, dug a grave, and buried him. The neighbors mocked me, saying to one another: "He is still not afraid! Once before he was hunted down for execution because of this very thing; yet now that he has scarcely escaped, here he is again burying the dead!"

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 112:1b-2, 3b-4, 5-6

R. (1b) Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
Blessed the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commands.
His posterity shall be mighty upon the earth;
the upright generation shall be blessed.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
His generosity shall endure forever.
Light shines through the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious and merciful and just.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
Well for the man who is gracious and lends,
who conducts his affairs with justice;
He shall never be moved;
the just man shall be in everlasting remembrance.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
R. Alleluia.

Mk 12:1-12

Jesus began to speak to the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders in parables. "A man planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press, and built a tower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and left on a journey. At the proper time he sent a servant to the tenants to obtain from them some of the produce of the vineyard.
But they seized him, beat him, and sent him away empty-handed.
Again he sent them another servant. And that one they beat over the head and treated shamefully. He sent yet another whom they killed. So, too, many others; some they beat, others they killed.
He had one other to send, a beloved son. He sent him to them last of all, thinking, 'They will respect my son.' But those tenants said to one another, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.' So they seized him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.
What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come, put the tenants to death, and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this Scripture passage:
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes?"

They were seeking to arrest him, but they feared the crowd, for they realized that he had addressed the parable to them. So they left him and went away.

© 2006-2009 Deacon Tom Online

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