May 23, 2021
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 2:2–4
Happy birthday! Today, as we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, we also celebrate the birth of the Church. Thus, today is a celebration of your membership in the life of the Church. As a human institution, the Church has always suffered on account of the sins of Her members. This sad truth is something that we are increasingly aware of today. But the Church itself is the Spotless Bride of Christ. It is the Body of Christ on earth, in Heaven and in Purgatory. Those of us on earth are members of the Church Militant. Those in Heaven are members of the Church Triumphant. And those in Purgatory are members of the Church Suffering. But all of us are united under Christ our Head as members of His holy Body the Church.
We profess our faith in the Church every Sunday. We profess that we believe in “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.” What exactly does this mean? First, it means that by the power and working of the Holy Spirit, those who profess faith in Christ are united as “one.” This oneness is a spiritual union that will endure for eternity. It is unbreakable and restores us to the life we were created to live. That is, a life of union with God and others, a communion of humanity with God.
As one family, the Church is also “holy.” Holiness is another way of saying that we are made whole by the blood of Christ, sharing in His redemption. By His mercy, our sins are forgiven and we become children of the Father in Heaven, sharing the eternal life of the Son.
The word “catholic” refers to the truth that the offer of salvation is given to all. It is a universal calling given to all people who will accept this gift. God did not come to save only a few but all, and many will accept this gift of salvation.
We are “apostolic” in that God chose to establish His Church through the mediation of His Apostles. They were uniquely called to become instruments by which the saving Truth is proclaimed and the grace won by the Cross is distributed. The work of the Apostles continues today through their successors, the bishops, and those who are co-workers with the bishops, the priests. Sinful though they may be, God uses them, nonetheless, to bestow His grace and truth upon the world.
As a member of the one Body of Christ, you are also invited by God to enlarge His family through the sharing of the Gospel and by your life of deep prayer. You are called and sent, and this takes place by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that we especially celebrate today.
Reflect, today, upon the incredible privilege it is to be invited to be a member of the Family of God, the Church. And reflect, also, upon the important duty you have to extend that invitation to others. Pray to the Holy Spirit, asking for an increase in His seven-fold gifts in your life so that You can help share the saving message of the Gospel to those whom God wants to reach through you.
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and kindle in them the fire of Your love. Send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. O, God, Who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, through Christ our Lord. Amen. Jesus, I trust in You.
Catholic Daily Reflections
Ordinary Time: May 24–August 31
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Further Reading – Pentecost Sunday
Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Fear of the Lord: With this gift the Christian becomes keenly aware of anything that may hurt his/her relationship with God. There is a holy “fear” of hurting this relationship, and grace is given to avoid these things at all cost.
Wisdom: With this gift the Christian is given a special grace to “ponder divine realities” in his/her speculative reason. We are able to see the big picture and know how best to be an instrument of peace and harmony in our world.
Understanding: This is the ability to have a supernatural assurance of the matters of faith. Life makes sense. We can make sense of the deeper parts of revelation, make sense of suffering and understand those things that tempt us to doubt. With this gift we come to see how everything in life can work for good in accordance with God’s plan.
Knowledge: With this gift the Christian knows, more in the practical intellect, what God’s will is in this or that situation. We know how to live, how to discern God’s will and what decision to make in our daily life. It also enables us to learn from our past mistakes.
Counsel: With this gift the Christian sees him/herself as a link in a chain which makes up the entire Church. God uses each one of us to help and support one another on our journey. We know what to say and how to act so as to do our part to build up one another.
Fortitude: Simply put, it is a firmness of mind and spirit to do good and avoid evil. It’s a sort of Christian courage. The Gospel will call all of us to a radical life of love. Fortitude gives us the strength we need to follow through.
Piety: This gift enables us to first reverence and love God, but also to see the dignity of one another and reverence each other as children of God.