The Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday
SAINT RAYMOND IS IN HIS CHURCH! I am so overjoyed that this last Wednesday
Phase 1 of our Mural Project was completed, as the painting of St. Raymond’s
miraculous sailing from Majorca took its place of honor next to our sanctuary. Recall the
power of God and the faith of our great Patron in this miracle, when St. Raymond, after
condemning King James for consorting with his mistress on the island of Majorca, bowed
his head in prayer and, by the grace of God, sailed 160 miles back to Spain using just his
great cape as both a skiff and a sail.
Special thanks today to the family of William Brill, a long-time parishioner and
usher who died in November 2017. Will loved our church and parish, and in memory of
this love, his family donated the funds for this mural. Please pray for the soul of this good
man, and for his family.
Phase 2 of our Mural Project, the painting of St. Raymond and Our Lady of
Ransom, should be complete in October. Thanks to artist Henry Wingate for his brilliant
PENTECOST. Today we remember the day that the Holy Spirit descended upon the
early Church, about 120 disciples gathered to pray in the upper room. As the Acts of
Apostles tells us:
“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And
suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the
house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed
and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began
to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in
Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the
multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them
speaking in his own language…. So those who received his word were baptized, and
there were added that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2: 1-6, 41).
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 Sacrament 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
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 Christ.
June and “Gay Pride Month”. “LGBTQ” activists commemorate June as “Gay Pride
Month.” While President Obama officially declared it a national commemoration every
year he was in office, President Trump has not. So it is not a “national” thing.
And it is definitely not a Catholic thing. As Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin
tweeted last week, “Catholics should not support or attend LGBTQ ‘Pride Month’ events
held in June. They promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to
Catholic faith and morals. They are especially harmful for children.” Good for Bishop
Tobin. Let’s follow his lead.
Hollywood Hypocrisy in Georgia. Many Hollywood-types have called for a movie
industry boycott of Georgia, due to the state’s new strict anti-abortion “heartbeat” law.
For example, Disney CEO Bob Iger said: "I think many people who work for us will not
want to work there….I don’t see how it’s practical for us to continue to shoot there."
Interesting. Disney is doing a heck of a lot of business in China, which, among other
abuses, currently has about 2 million Muslims in re-education (concentration) camps.
Disney has also recently filmed in several countries with strict laws against abortion. For
example, the new movie Aladdin was partially filmed in Jordan, which criminalizes
almost all abortions. So what’s wrong with Georgia? Can you say “hypocrites”?
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles