With Pentecost coming up this week, perhaps itâ€™s time to turn our hearts to the third person of the Holy Trinity, our Advocate, our Comforter, the one who dwells in our hearts and gives us the power to follow the Lord. He doesnâ€™t always get the attention he deserves. After all, we can imagine God the Father as a benevolent grandfather type and God the Son obviously has a human face, which makes interacting with him easier. But then thereâ€™s the Holy Spirit, whoâ€™s maybe a bird or a flame or wind, and in any event heâ€™s rather too nebulous for most of us, so we slide him in at the end of the Creed and the Gloria and call it a day.
But Jesus himself, when telling the Twelve that he was going to leave them, told them, â€œIt is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to youâ€ (Jn 16:7). Itâ€™s hard to imagine that we might be better off than those men who walked the earth with Jesus were, but thatâ€™s what Jesus said: the presence of the Holy Spirit is so real and so powerful that letting him live within you is even better than walking the roads of Galilee with Jesus himself.
Now the Holy Spirit is unpredictable, as we see from the account of Pentecost when he rested on the Apostles as tongues of fire, enabled them to speak any language, and empowered Peter to preach so movingly that 3,000 people were baptized that day alone. We have every reason to feel uncertain in the face of that sort of power.
But the Spirit loves us every bit as much as the Father does, every bit as much as the Son. And when we invite him into our lives, he begins to move in unimaginable ways, to work in and through us for healing and joy and the salvation of souls. The gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit are a product of his work within us, so even though weâ€™re likely to be prompted to move out of our comfort zones when we begin a real relationship with the Holy Spirit, the result will ultimately be love, joy, peace, and patience.
The work is done in us through baptism and confirmation, of course, but we need to invite the Holy Spirit into our lives each day, to give him sovereignty and surrender to him. This will look different for different people, perhaps as simple as praying, â€œCome, Holy Spiritâ€ each morning.
For me, itâ€™s all rooted in a prayer that I was taught by a very influential priest in my life. I was a high schooler and fresh off a conversion experience on a retreat, so I was ready to become a saint. I wanted to be a missionary or a martyr, or (preferably) both. So when Fr. Chris suggested that we start by praying a 1,600-year-old prayer, I was in.
I sat down with St. Augustineâ€™s prayer to the Holy Spirit, thinking it would be easy enough to check off my list ever day, and began to realize just how much I needed it, how important it would be to invoke the Holy Spirit each morning and give him control of my whole life: my thoughts, my work, my heart, my strength, my self. And so I began to pray in the words of the Doctor of Grace:
Breathe in me O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.Act in me O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.Draw my heart O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.Strengthen me O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.
Iâ€™ve prayed this prayer every day for 20 years. Every day Iâ€™ve asked the Holy Spirit to strengthen me, move in me, protect me. Every day Iâ€™ve given him control over ever aspect of my life. And while Iâ€™ve probably spent the majority of each day trying to wrest control back from him, the very act of inviting the Holy Spirit to work is efficacious. I wonder what conversations he was leading without my noticing, what moments of beauty I was only aware of because of the grace brought by this prayer. I wonder who I would be today if I hadnâ€™t gotten into the habit of calling on the Holy Spirit each morning.
Itâ€™s a beautiful prayer, one I highly recommend, but ultimately the words donâ€™t matter. What mattersâ€”every day, not just on Pentecostâ€”is that we make the effort to know, love, and serve the Spirit as well as the Father and the Son. Thereâ€™s no substitute.
Worried about the future? Find peace in this short prayer
It’s relatively easy to be worried about the future. We simply don’t know what is going to happen today, tomorrow, or next year. This state of uncertainty can cripple us at times, keeping us from doing anything out of fear of the unknown. St. Josemaria Escriva consoled someone in a similar frame of mind, who…
It’s relatively easy to be worried about the future. We simply don’t know what is going to happen today, tomorrow, or next year. This state of uncertainty can cripple us at times, keeping us from doing anything out of fear of the unknown.
St. Josemaria Escriva consoled someone in a similar frame of mind, who said to him (as quoted in The Way of the Cross), “Father, I am having a very rough time.”
In response, the saint composed a short but peaceful prayer of abandonment, entrusting to God everything past, present and future.
My Lord and my God: into your hands I abandon the past and the present and the future, what is small and what is great, what amounts to a little and what amounts to a lot, things temporal and things eternal.
Asking his friend to pray this prayer, St. Josemaria wrote, “Then, don’t worry any more.”
The only way we can move forward in calm is to entrust our “rough times” to God and then let the worry go. He is in control, and will be with us every step of the way.
Pope Francis reminisces about 6th grade
Perhaps it wouldn’t be wrong to say that our Jesuit pope also has Salesian roots. Pope Francis hinted at this on Sunday, May 24, the feast of Mary Help of Christians, which is an important Salesian feast. “Today, on the day of Mary Help of Christians, I address an affectionate and cordial greeting to the…
Perhaps it wouldn’t be wrong to say that our Jesuit pope also has Salesian roots. Pope Francis hinted at this on Sunday, May 24, the feast of Mary Help of Christians, which is an important Salesian feast.
“Today, on the day of Mary Help of Christians, I address an affectionate and cordial greeting to the Salesians,” he said, following the midday Regina Coeli prayer at the Vatican’s Apostolic Library. “I recall with gratitude the spiritual formation I received from the sons and daughters of Don Bosco.”
The Pope did not mention it directly, but he was referring to 1949 when he and his younger brother, Oscar, were enrolled as boarders at Colegio Wilfrid Barón de los Santos Ángeles run by the Salesians at Ramos Mejía.
Pope in Salesian school
The Virgin Mary, under the title Mary Help of Christians, is the principal patroness of the Salesians of Don Bosco, the religious congregation that Don Bosco founded in 1859 in the northern Italian city of Turin, to serve the young people.
The city’s Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, which was commissioned by Don Bosco himself, remains the heart of the Salesians of Don Bosco.
The Argentine Pope’s remarks on Sunday is not the first time that he has spoken about the influence of the Salesians of Don Bosco in his childhood.
Turin, June 22, 2015
Pope Francis visited Turin, June 21-22, 2015, during which he joined the Salesians in celebrating the 200th birth centenary of Don Bosco, who was born on August 16, 1815, and died on January 31, 1888.
During his visit, the Pope met the Salesians, including the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, known as the Salesian sisters, which Don Bosco co-founded with Saint Mary Mazzarello.
While commending Don Bosco’s ministry for young people, the Pope recounted fond childhood memories of his family’s closeness to the Salesians and how, when his mother was ill, he was taken out of public school to spend one year studying with the Salesians.
The Holy Father spoke of how he grew very attached to the Salesian community in the year he spent with them and that one priest, in particular, followed him from Baptism to the realization of his vocation, accompanying him ultimately on his journey to the Jesuit Order.
Salesian priests Fathers Enrico Pozzoli and Cayetano Bruno are particularly remembered by the Pope.
“Evangelii gaudium with St John Bosco”
Again, in January 2019, Pope Francis wrote a preface to the book, “Evangelii gaudium con don Bosco” (Evangelii gaudium with St John Bosco), a collection of reflections by 25 members of the Salesian family.
Commending the spirit of joy of Don Bosco, despite the thousands of “difficulties that besieged him every day”, the Pope recalled his association with the Salesians as a boy in Argentina.
While studying in a Salesian school, he wrote in the preface, he found that same “climate of joy and family.” The Salesians, he said, trained him to appreciate beauty, work, and cheerfulness – and this, he told the Salesians, “is your vocation.”
Houston church closes again after priests test positive for COVID-19
Catholic churches in Texas had begun offering Mass for the public again in early May. But at one parish, public Masses were abruptly suspended again after three priests tested positive for COVID-19. “Today we learned that three members of the Redemptorists community living and working at Holy Ghost Parish have tested positive for COVID-19, Fr.…
Catholic churches in Texas had begun offering Mass for the public again in early May. But at one parish, public Masses were abruptly suspended again after three priests tested positive for COVID-19.
“Today we learned that three members of the Redemptorists community living and working at Holy Ghost Parish have tested positive for COVID-19, Fr. William Bueche, C.Ss.R., pastor of Holy Ghost, said in a statement May 16. “While the individuals themselves are asymptomatic, they, and the other members of the community, are in quarantine in the residence isolated from the others. All members of the household have been tested and are awaiting results.”
Fr. Bueche said that one of the individuals who tested positive had been active in celebrating public Masses at Holy Ghost since the church reopened on May 2. He urged anyone who has attended Masses in person at Holy Ghost since the reopening to “monitor your health for any symptoms and be tested for COVID-19, as a precautionary measure.”
The priest said he informed the City of Houston Health Department about the situation.
In a statement issued Monday, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston noted that, Fr. Donnell Kirchner, a 79-year-old priest at Holy Ghost died. “The specific cause of death is unknown, but he had been recently treated at an urgent care clinic who referred him to a hospital emergency room,” the statement read. “He was diagnosed with pneumonia but he was not admitted to the hospital and ws sent home with medication. It is not clear if he was tested for covid-19 at either faciity. He returned to the residence he shared with seven other members of his religious order.”
The statement said that following Fr. Kirchner’s death, the other Redemptorists “sought medical advice, and all were tested for the coronavirus. Although the parish had followed cleaning, sanitation and social distancing guidelines described by State health officials since reopening on May 2, they determined at that time it was best to close the church immediately to public Masses until the results of their tests were known.”
The archdiocese also noted that in-person attendance at Holy Ghost had been “closely controlled” and that attendance at Mass on Sunday never exceeded 179, far short of the 900-person capacity. Weekday Mass attendance as a “small fraction of that amount.”
An earlier statement on the parish website said that Masses would be canceled as of May 14 because the Redemptorist community was self-quarantining while awaiting results of the COVID-19 tests. Suspension of Masses included the funeral for Fr. Kirchner originally scheduled on Saturday, May 16.