“Newness in God’s Surprises”: Wisdom from Pope Francis at Pentecost

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Steve Driscoll/EWTN News

Newness always makes us a bit fearful, because we feel more secure if we have everything under control, if we are the ones who build, program and plan our lives in accordance with our own ideas, our own comfort, our own preferences. This is also the case when it comes to God. Often we follow him, we accept him, but only up to a certain point. It is hard to abandon ourselves to him with complete trust, allowing the Holy Spirit to be the soul and guide of our lives in our every decision. We fear that God may force us to strike out on new paths and leave behind our all too narrow, closed and selfish horizons in order to become open to his own. Yet throughout the history of salvation, whenever God reveals himself, he brings newness – God always brings newness -, and demands our complete trust: Noah, mocked by all, builds an ark and is saved; Abram leaves his land with only a promise in hand; Moses stands up to the might of Pharaoh and leads his people to freedom; the apostles, huddled fearfully in the Upper Room, go forth with courage to proclaim the Gospel. This is not a question of novelty for novelty’s sake, the search for something new to relieve our boredom, as is so often the case in our own day. The newness which God brings into our life is something that actually brings fulfillment, that gives true joy, true serenity, because God loves us and desires only our good. Let us ask ourselves today: Are we open to ‘God’s surprises’? Or are we closed and fearful before the newness of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the courage to strike out along the new paths which God’s newness sets before us, or do we resist, barricaded in transient structures which have lost their capacity for openness to what is new? We would do well to ask ourselves these questions all through the day.”

Homily at the Solemnity of Pentecost, May 19, 2013, St. Peter’s Square

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The Catechismal Crusader : The Holy Spirit

This week’s topic was inspired by Pope Francis’ homily yesterday which called all peoples respond to the call of the Holy Spirit in their lives.  He says  The Holy Spirit “gives us consolation and the strength to move forward” but often we ignore His promptings. What tremendous help the Holy Spirit gives us to know, love and serve, to put our will second.  However, (at least in my catechesis) the Holy Spirit was rarely discussed.   So who  is the third Person of the Trinity?  Here’s what the Catechism says.

687 “No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”7 Now God’s Spirit, who reveals God, makes known to us Christ, his Word, his living Utterance, but the Spirit does not speak of himself. The Spirit who “has spoken through the prophets” makes us hear the Father’s Word, but we do not hear the Spirit himself. We know him only in the movement by which he reveals the Word to us and disposes us to welcome him in faith. The Spirit of truth who “unveils” Christ to us “will not speak on his own.”8 Such properly divine self-effacement explains why “the world cannot receive [him], because it neither sees him nor knows him,” while those who believe in Christ know the Spirit because he dwells with them.9

689 The One whom the Father has sent into our hearts, the Spirit of his Son, is truly God.10 Consubstantial with the Father and the Son, the Spirit is inseparable from them, in both the inner life of the Trinity and his gift of love for the world. In adoring the Holy Trinity, life-giving, consubstantial, and indivisible, the Church’s faith also professes the distinction of persons. When the Father sends his Word, he always sends his Breath. In their joint mission, the Son and the Holy Spirit are distinct but inseparable. To be sure, it is Christ who is seen, the visible image of the invisible God, but it is the Spirit who reveals him.

690 Jesus is Christ, “anointed,” because the Spirit is his anointing, and everything that occurs from the Incarnation on derives from this fullness.11 When Christ is finally glorified,12 he can in turn send the Spirit from his place with the Father to those who believe in him: he communicates to them his glory,13 that is, the Holy Spirit who glorifies him.14 From that time on, this joint mission will be manifested in the children adopted by the Father in the Body of his Son: the mission of the Spirit of adoption is to unite them to Christ and make them live in him

737 The mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit is brought to completion in the Church, which is the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit. This joint mission henceforth brings Christ’s faithful to share in his communion with the Father in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit prepares men and goes out to them with his grace, in order to draw them to Christ. The Spirit manifests the risen Lord to them, recalls his word to them and opens their minds to the understanding of his Death and Resurrection. He makes present the mystery of Christ, supremely in the Eucharist, in order to reconcile them, to bring them into communion with God, that they may “bear much fruit.”132

741 “The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with sighs too deep for words.”134 The Holy Spirit, the artisan of God’s works, is the master of prayer. (This will be the topic of Part Four.)

What was it like to be in the room when the Pope resigned?

Curious about what it was like in the room when the Holy Father announced his resignation?  Cardinal Francis Arinze, the former prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship, was there when the announcement was made and recently sat down in an interview to describe what it was like.  He also shares words of wisdom about what this means for the Church:

“The Hour Has Come”: Guest post!

Here’s a reflection from a graduate student about life, the future, and what God’s asking of us as young Catholics in today’s society.  They wished only to be recognized as “P”:

All my life has been preparation.  I look back on the years of schooling and turn again and strain my eyes to see past the horizon, to when this “preparation” shall end and I will begin the battle that is My Life.  The same dilemma is not unrecognized by the world, with its constant reminder to live life to the fullest, a fullness that requires you to stuff your life with the things of this world, its experiences, its pleasures and its riches.  Yet, gazing at the future, we often fail to see where it truly lies.

We are at a remarkable age in our lives.  There comes a realization that we are no longer young, but that we still have our youth.  “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things,” St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:11.  We are no longer children.  Many of us have started our transition into society and in turn, society now recognizes us as men, as women, and as adults.

Yet I find myself still gazing into the horizon, with a hope that when I complete that transition into society, it will somehow be better.  That somebody (i.e. the Catholics of today) will make a difference, that God will once again be present in society and in place of the riches and pleasures of this world there will be purity, chastity . . . beauty.  And as I picture this somebody, it is always a generation removed: those before me or those after me.

I recently had a teacher make a comment that applies to many graduate level students.  Graduate students and teachers tend to talk about the future in terms of what “they” will do.  “They” will build this, “they” will discover this, “they” will cure this disease, but what this teacher so rightfully pointed out is that this “they” is us.  We are the future.

What is the point I’m trying to make?  As the Gospels so aptly put it, “The hour has come.” That is not to say that the time of preparation is over – as Catholics we will always be preparing for the challenges of tomorrow; we must never stop preparing for the challenges of tomorrow, but that preparation must be put into use today.  As Blessed JP2 said to the youth of the Church in Denver many years ago: “You are the future of the world, you are the hope of the Church, you are my hope.”

We must take a stand.  It is up to us to hold our generation to a higher standard than our parents have held us.  We must expect more from each other and more from ourselves.  Society believes that chastity and purity are impossible, so much so that drunkenness and debauchery are expected among our youth.  Not only must we show them otherwise in our own actions, but we must hold them to demand more from the rest of our generation.

Come to this realization: to the world, you are a fanatic.  You dedicate your life to Someone, Something, that you cannot see.  You spend precious hours of your weekend with the same old ritual that was used in medieval days, a bygone era.  Where others live through the happiness of pleasure, you live without, devoid of its bittersweetness.  In the eyes of society, we will always be fanatics.  “To what shall I compare this generation?  It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.’ (Matthew 11:16-17).”  Therefore, we must be fanatics.  The Holy Spirit is a fire that must burn within us.  We must be in the world, but not of the world.  Our greatest fear should be to become lukewarm, to lose that fire that should consume us.  For as it is often said: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Want to write a guest post?  Submit it to Liz: lfrias@uwcatholic.org!