Dear Parishioners: “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth!” This Psalm for Pentecost has been our prayer since the Ascension when we celebrated Jesus returning to His Father in heaven forty days after His Resurrection from the dead. What did the bewildered, scared, confused Apostles do upon Our Lord’s Ascension into Heaven? They took our Blessed Mother Mary, locked themselves into a room, and prayed! That prayer demanded perseverance, because it took nine days for Jesus to reply. The response He gave to that patient prayer of His Mother and the Apostles was beyond their most exalted hopes. For on Pentecost Jesus sent the Holy Spirit upon the disciples and His mother, giving them the courage, wisdom, and zeal to carry out the last command He had given them nine days earlier when He had ascended into heaven, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (Mt. 28: 19) Thus the work of the Church began.
Pentecost is truly the birthday of the Church and so we celebrate this Sunday with particular joy and solemnity. We Catholics must passionately love our Church. Like our family, we are “born into it” at baptism; like a mother, our Church strengthens us in Confirmation, forgives us in Reconciliation, feeds us in the Eucharist, consoles us with the Anointing of the Sick, and gives us away in Matrimony or Holy Orders. Like our family, our Church is there at birth, sickness, and death. Like a family, we might quarrel at times and complain about one another, but, like a family, we rarely leave, can always return, and carry our family name, traits, and pride forever. The Church is our spiritual family!
I am often reminded of the words of Saint Pope John Paul II, spoken at World Youth Day. He said: “I should like to ask you, dear young people, a favor: be patient with the Church! The Church is always a community of weak and imperfect individuals. God has placed His work of salvation, His plans and His desires, in human hands. This is a great risk, but there is no other Church than the one founded by Christ. He wants us to be His collaborators in the world and in the Church, with all our deficiencies and shortcomings.”Let us celebrate our Church today. A Church that is human and divine, a Church that continues to grow in faith, hope and love. Pentecost is here and we recall how that small band of fearful and frightened disciples gained the gifts of the Holy Spirit and boldly went into the world to preach the Kingdom of God. Let us go and do likewise!
While the Church marks Pentecost this weekend, our nation marks Memorial Day. It is a holiday begun as a somber day of remembrance; a day when Americans went to cemeteries and placed flags or flowers on the graves of our war dead. It was a day to remember ancestors, family members, and loved ones who gave the ultimate sacrifice. The late President Ronald Reagan wrote of Memorial Day: “Over one hundred years ago, Memorial Day was established to commemorate those who died in the defense of our national ideals. Our ideals of freedom, justice, and equal rights for all have been challenged many times since then, and thousands of Americans have given their lives in many parts of the world to secure those same ideals and insure for their children a lasting peace. Their sacrifice demands that we, the living, continue to promote the cause of peace and the ideals for which they so valiantly gave of themselves.” This Memorial Day let us stop and reflect on the liberties and prosperity we enjoy as a nation. Let us remember with gratitude and prayer those men and women who gave their lives so we can continue to enjoy such freedom. Let us thank those who defend our nation and let us pray for peace. Join us on Memorial Day for Mass at 8:30AM and then at 7:00PM for May Devotions as we offer our prayers for peace and for all those who died in service to our nation. Happy Pentecost Day! Happy Memorial Day! God Bless you. God Bless America!