Sunday, May 24, 2015

Pentecost: A Feast of All the Saints

There has been lots of “saint making” going on during the Easter Season. Beyond the highly anticipated beatification of El Salvador’s Oscar Romero and the canonization of four new saints on May 17, the Church celebrated the beatification of Blessed Luigi Bordino, an Italian member of the Brothers of St. Joseph Cottolengo, on May 2, Blessed Luigi Caburlotto, the Italian priest who founded the Daughters of St. Joseph, on May 16, and, on May 23—the same day as the beatification of Oscar Romero—Blessed Irene Stefani, a Consolata Missionary Sister who served in Tanzania and Kenya.

The Second Reading for the Pentecost Mass “During the Day” reminds us that, “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7). We see this truth at work in the lives of the named and unnamed saints who have lived out their commitment to Christ through the ages. This certainly holds true for those women and men honored by the Church in the past few weeks.

Pentecost is that great celebration that reminds us that holiness isn’t the prerogative of only a few chosen souls. Each and every Christian is chosen by God, sanctified, and sent out to achieve some purpose especially entrusted to them for God’s glory and the good of others. We celebrate the saints of history because these are individuals who, basically, got it right. They recognized that God—working in and through them—was calling them to become more and to do more. And their love and faith manifested itself in tangible ways. No saint, no holy person, has ever horded the graces they have received. This is true from that moment in the upper room nearly two thousand years ago when Mary and the Apostles became enflamed with the power of the Spirit down to our own time. We need saints to remind us that we are a Pentecost people who have been entrusted with the same task of proclaiming Jesus Christ to the world that was entrusted to the first followers of Jesus.
"Pentecost" by Mark Wiggin

In his homily for Pentecost, Pope Francis reflected on this, when he said:
The world needs men and women who are not closed in on themselves, but filled with the Holy Spirit. Closing oneself off from the Holy Spirit means not only a lack of freedom; it is a sin. There are many ways one can close one’s self off to the Holy Spirit: by selfishness for one’s own gain; by rigid legalism—seen in the attitude of the doctors of the law to whom Jesus referred as “hypocrites”; by neglect of what Jesus taught; by living the Christian life not as service to others but in pursuit of personal interests; and in so many other ways. The world needs the fruits of the Holy Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22). The gift of the Holy Spirit has been bestowed upon the Church and upon each one of us, so that we may live lives of genuine faith and active charity, that we may sow the seeds of reconciliation and peace.

To be fruitful demands something of us. Or, to say it another way, Christians have responsibilities. And the call to holiness isn’t something unrelated to the demands of daily life. We have to “bloom where we’re planted.” And part of this responsibility is a willingness to actively listen to the whispers of the Spirit calling us out of ourselves and calling us to change and renewal each and every day.

As we celebrate the end of the Easter Season and transition back into the verdancy of Ordinary Time, think about what it would mean for you to pick a saint to be your companion over the next few months. Perhaps it might be one of the eight women and men honored by the Church this Easter Season, or another saint who has been a long-time friend. Let them guide you by their teachings and their way of life. How did they bear the fruit of the Spirit in their own lives, living out their unique vocation? How did they live the Resurrection of Jesus in the ordinary moments of their extraordinary life?

Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth!
Holy Mary, Queen of Apostles, pray for us.
Saint Marie-Alphonsine Ghattas, pray for us.
Saint Mariam of Jesus Crucified, pray for us.
Saint Emilie de Villeneuve, pray for us.
Saint Maria Christina Brando, pray for us.
Blessed Luigi Bordino, pray for us.
Blessed Luigi Caburlotto, pray for us.
Blessed Irene Stefani, pray for us.
Blessed Oscar Romero, pray for us.
All you saints of God, pray for us!




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