Catechetical Sunday: We Are Transformed by the Holy Spirit
September 21, 2016
"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) In these words, Jesus promises the gift of the Holy Spirit to those who are open to his transforming love. This week, as we welcome back our children and their families for a new season of faith formation, we are grateful for all those witnesses who evangelize by passing on the Catholic faith to a new generation of believers.
Anniversaries are special occasions. And what a weekend this is! For we celebrate not just one, but three anniversaries of priestly ordination: for Fr. Adelchi Bertoli, on July 8, 1951, at the Duomo SS. Ermacora e Fortunato di Udine; for Fr. Gerald Westphal, right here at St. Monica’s, on September 17, 1976; and finally for myself, Fr. Raymond Lafontaine, at Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral, on August 30, 1991. Combined, that makes a total of 130 years of service in the priesthood of Jesus Christ – 63 spent right here at St. Monica’s!
This year, the theme for our adult faith program is “Transformed by the Holy Spirit.” What a beautiful account of transformation we find in today’s Gospel! In the timeless story of the Parable of the Prodigal Son, we meet a Father who waits, unconditionally loving, arms outstretched, for the return of two sons who have drifted away from him: one physically, the other spiritually.
St. Teresa of Calcutta: Carrier of God’s Tender and Merciful Love
September 3, 2016
The canonization of Mother Teresa invites us to look to her as a Christian hero, an outstanding model of the Christian life. Pope Francis has chosen to have Mother Teresa’s canonization during this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, particularly during the Jubilee celebration for workers and volunteers of mercy. The whole pontificate of Pope Francis is marked by attention and love for the last, the least and the lost, for the marginalized, for those at the peripheries of human existence – the poorest of the poor.
As we resume “ordinary” time and our sequential reading of the Gospel of Luke, we are presented with a scene of great power and tenderness. A “sinful woman” enters a stranger’s house, anoints Jesus’ feet with perfume, washes them with her tears, dries them with her hair, and experiences Jesus’ forgiveness and compassion. We do not know this woman’s name, or what her “sin” was; nor does it matter ultimately. She is healed, set free, restored to her dignity. Yet it is the Pharisee, the host in whose home this scene is happening, who is in need of conversion.
This 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time coincides this year with World Environment Day, celebrated globally on June 5th. Today’s liturgy, carefully prepared by our Faith and Justice Committee, evokes Pope Francis’ recent words on climate change: “The effective struggle against global warming will only be possible with a responsible collective answer that goes beyond particular interests and behavior and is developed free of political and economic pressures. On climate change, there is a clear, definitive and ethical imperative to act.
Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
May 26, 2016
Over the past weeks, we have celebrated various aspects of our Catholic identity. Because we are an Easter people, we rise to new life in and with Christ. We are a Spirit-filled people, empowered at Pentecost to bear witness to one Spirit manifested in a diversity of gifts.
Today’s celebration of Trinity Sunday invites us to acknowledge the mystery of Divine Love as gift: the Father’s love takes on human flesh in the Son, and is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Our God is relationship: because God’s very being is self-giving, overflowing love, then we are not alone. Look upon creation and behold the reflection of the Trinity: dynamic, expansive, giving, radiant; extraordinarily diverse, yet a finely differentiated unity
This Sunday, the Church celebrates its “birthday” with the feast of Pentecost. It is a scene of great drama: rushing wind, tongues of fire, the uttering of many languages. It is also a scene of inner transformation: formerly timid disciples empowered to speak in such a way that no matter what the religious, cultural, and linguistic differences, each hears the message in a way they can understand. Such is the power of God’s Holy Spirit: to break down the walls of division, and to create the unity that is the Father’s desire for all creation.