May 27, 2023 Column Father De Celles

Congratulations to the Newly Confirmed. Sincere congratulations to all our
teens who received the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of
Confirmation last Monday evening. Let’s keep them in our prayers as they go
forward with these graces and become the good men and women God created
them to be. Thanks to Bishop Burbidge for visiting and conferring the sacrament,
and thanks also to parents, sponsors, and catechists for helping the kids prepare
for the sacrament and for life as true followers of Jesus. Thanks especially to
Mary Salmon for all her good work as our Religious Education Director.
PENTECOST. Today we remember the day that the Holy Spirit descended upon
the early Church when about 120 disciples gathered to pray in the upper room.
Some call this the “Birthday of the Church.” Of course, other days are also
called the “Birthday of the Church,” for example, Christmas and Good Friday.
Perhaps the best analogy here is to relate this “birth” back to the creation of
Adam; as Genesis tells us: “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the
ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living
being” (Gen. 2:7). As you may know, the word “breathed” and “breath” here are
translating two forms of the Hebrew words “ruah” which means “breath” or
“wind”—or “spirit.” So the “breath of God” or the “wind of God” also points to the
Spirit of God. In a parallel to the creation of Adam, during His life on earth, Christ
had built up a body for His Church, not from the “dust of the earth” but from the
simple human beings he had brought together under the leadership of the
Apostles. And in a certain sense it was like a lifeless body, as the disciples locked
themselves in the upper room filled with fear (but also hope). Until the Pentecost,
when the Lord breathed His Spirit, “like the rush of a mighty wind,” into that body
and it came to life, as we see in the above passage.
That Spirit remains alive and well in the Church today, coming to individual
members of the Church in various ways, but in particular through the Sacraments
of Confirmation. If only we would recognize and use with faith and confidence the
gifts of the Holy Spirit we receive in that sacrament!
But the Holy Spirit remains with the Church in many other ways as well,
continuing to give it life and making it the true Body of Christ on earth. It remains
acting in all the sacraments, and in the preaching of the Church, and in the love
of Christians. And it remains in the Church, acting through its hierarchical
structure established by Christ through His Apostles.
Some ask, why don’t we experience the Holy Spirit like they did on that
first Pentecost—with the tongues of fire, the sound of the wind and the speaking
in foreign tongues? Many scholarly saints have proposed that in the very
beginning the Trinity deigned to show Its power and presence in the Church in
these extraordinary ways in order to draw attention to this new and world-
changing phenomenon, and to found the Church with a dramatic event that
would always be a sign to all generations that the Holy Spirit had entered the
Church and world in a unique way that day.

But don’t we need that same kind of extraordinary and dramatic event/sign
today? Perhaps. Then again, don’t we actually have such a sign? What about the
“sign” of the presence of the living Body of Christ, the Church, still alive and
vibrant 2000 years later, not having 120 members, or 3000 members, but over 1
billion members (actually, 2 billion when we count all Christians) living in almost
every nation on earth. What other institution, group or society has survived in any
comparable way for so long, and with such an effect on human lives and human
history? And considering all the frail and sinful human beings who have found a
home in Her over all these centuries—whether layman, priest, bishop or
pope—to me it seems her survival and flourishing is the greatest sign we could
imagine or hope for of the Holy Spirit’s continuing power and presence in the
Church today.
Let us pray that the zealous fire of the Holy Spirit transforms our lives so
that at every moment we may live and breathe our faith, hope and love in Jesus
Priest Transfers. Last week Bishop Burbidge announced dozens of new priest
assignments and transfers. Thanks be to God, St. Raymond’s was not
affected—both Fr. Bergida and Fr. Horkan will be with us for another year!
(Remember, Fr. Horkan lives here, but has a fulltime job at the Diocesan
Chancery and Tribunal, so can help us only as his schedule permits).
Wednesday Evening Mass? When we were reduced to only one priest in
October of 2020 I had to make the hard decision to cancel the 7pm Wednesday
evening Mass. When Fr. Bergida joined us in February we were able to add the
Wednesday Mass to the Lenten Schedule. Now I have decided to bring back
the regularly scheduled 7pm Wednesday Mass beginning in September.
(The delay is because of the priests’ various summer vacations, etc.)
However, effective immediately, I’ve decided that since a priest will be
available for many of these Wednesday evenings this summer, we will follow the
unusual practice of having, if you pardon the expression, “irregularly
scheduled” Wednesday 7pm Masses. That is, if a priest is available for Mass
on any given Wednesday Evening, the parish office will send out an email to
all parishioners sometime during the day announcing this (we will also post it on
the website). This is not at all the best way to schedule Masses, but if a priest is
available, why not try it, at least ad experimentum?
June and “Gay Pride Month.” “LGBTQ” activists commemorate June as “Gay
Pride Month.” How sad, and evil. I know many of you deal with this at work and
school—it must be terribly difficult for you. But remember, you are Catholic first
and foremost—you follow Jesus and belong to His Body, the Church. You cannot
willingly directly and intentionally participate or support this “celebration” of sin
and perversion. You don’t have to go out of your way to be martyrs, and you must

love and respect all people who suffer from same-sex attraction, but you must not
promote or otherwise encourage this disorder or the sins of homosexual acts or
As the Catechism states: “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which
presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always
declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to
the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed
from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances
can they be approved.”
Speaking of which, see today’s “Church Persecuted” column for the
despicable anti-Catholic activism of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles