Today the season of Easter draws to a close with Sunday Vespers or Evening Prayer, we conclude the Easter season with the feast of Pentecost. Today the Paschal Candle is extinguished, lit again only for celebrating the sacrament of Baptism or at a Funeral Mass. As the Sourcebook from Chicago Liturgy Training Publications relates “The Greek word for Pentecost means “fiftieth,” and in early Christianity it referred to the entire fifty days of Easter. The roots of Pentecost can be found in the Jewish festival of Weeks (Shavout), the fifty day celebration following Passover (Exodus 23:16). It was a harvest festival in which the first fruits of the harvest were offered to God in gratitude. It eventually became associated with the giving of the Torah, the law on Mount Sinai. Early Christians reinterpreted the Jewish festival as a commemoration of the coming of the Holy Spirit, since the Acts of the Apostles records that the Holy Spirit came to the disciples when the festival of Pentecost was fulfilled. In some parishes today they may celebrate the Reception of Baptized Christians into Full Communion of the Catholic Church Easter on Pentecost.”
Commonly in the Easter season and on Pentecost the bishop confers the sacrament of Confirmation for the candidates for this sacrament whether youth, adults or in those parishes that celebrate restored order, meaning those who receive Confirmation and Eucharist at the same time whether in second grade or older. The sacrament of Confirmation completes the initiation process and focuses on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Today we are sending two adult candidates to the Cathedral to celebrate the sacrament of confirmation, Matt and Emily Caringello, brother and sister. As fully initiated Catholics we are called and invited into service empowered by the Holy Spirit utilizing the gifts given to us to bring the Gospel, the Good News to others.
What gifts of the Spirit do we put into use? Not by literally preaching to others or trying to convert others, but by our constant compassionate and caring example as Pope Francis continually reminds us. We have so many opportunities to serve others. How many people are taking care of their family members afflicted with advanced dementia or Alzheimer’s? How often do you answer the phone listening patiently to the ramblings of a parent suffering from one of those diseases? How often do grandparents attend a grandchild’s event, a ball game, a gymnastic tournament, a dance recital, or a school sponsored event? How many grandparents are helping to raise their grandchildren so mom and dad can work without the expense of day-care? How many people volunteer at a local hospital, school, or non-profit agency to serve others? The ways of serving others are only limited by our imaginations and our levels of energy.
Grateful for our faith, sustained by the Eucharist each week, we practice our faith when we pay attention to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, as quiet as a whisper or as powerful as a strong driving wind in our lives. As we close out the Easter season, may the Holy Spirit enliven us, enlighten us, and empower us to share our gifts and glorify the Lord who forever prays for us. Come Holy Spirit come, fill our hearts with your love. Inspire us to be your witnesses in the world.
Blessings of the Holy Spirit,
Father Larry Hendel – Pastor