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The Story of the Church

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Having had the privilege to travel to the Holy Land and actually stand inside THE upper room, I have come to better appreciate the events of the Resurrection up through the Descent of the Holy Spirit known as Pentecost. Keeping in mind that we have the perspective of the whole story, the apostles did not. When Jesus was crucified, his apostles were devastated and lost. They were afraid, as their lives were in danger because they knew Him. In a pit of sorrow, huddled together in the upper room, Jesus gloriously appeared and was most certainly not a ghost. Simultaneously, He is appearing to his followers, namely, the two men on the road to Emmaeus, as well as others as is later shared through the Acts of the Apostles. The apostles and disciples continue to learn more and gain further direction. Then, He leaves. Just like that. I am sure they asked themselves, “Now what?”. Peter, as the leader, works to inspire them to go out and share everything they have learned. They hesitate. They doubt their abilities. They question if they have it right. In that fear and doubt, the Holy Spirit arrives, fills them with a fire that can’t be contained – a fire for spreading the Good News. Thus begins our story, the story of the Church.

Are you on fire?

I came to appreciate the Holy Spirit later in my faith journey. I just didn’t understand the power that resides within the third person of the Trinity. What eventually got me there was a conversion while teaching eighth graders. The Holy Spirit is our Advocate. An advocate is one who works on our behalf, always making sure that we are safe and protected. We are gifted with the Holy Spirit at Baptism and then again at Confirmation. The Spirit resides with us. With the Spirit we have wisdom, knowledge, courage, understanding, counsel, piety, and fear of the Lord. Having fear of the Lord means that one is mindful of His power and majesty and act accordingly. It is an awareness of our need for humility and surrender to His will. When we exercise these gifts, we experience charity (love), joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity. These virtues are the fruits of the Holy Spirit. These are all things that help us to be the best versions of ourselves for God’s greater glory. The Holy Spirit makes us the image of Jesus in the world when we pay attention and work with It.

Holy Spirit, command me to do your will. Please work in me, with me, and through me for God’s greater glory.

Stained Glass Manifestations

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 We have very beautiful churches in our Archdiocese and beyond. The various religious art pieces and sacramentals enrich our life of prayer, such as the Stations of the Cross and the statues. As a child, I remember staring at the beautiful stained glass windows in my parish church. The sun shone beautifully through the colored glass and brought the picture to life more vibrantly. Through the centuries, the art of creating more detailed pictures of saints has grown, and still today, they lift our eyes upward. 

When we were baptized, we were christened with the name our parents gave us. At Confirmation we choose a saint whose life touches us in some way and becomes our intercessor.

Saints are very important in our faith formation because they inspire and encourage us, on our journey to holiness.  I remember a sister from my religious education class told us, “Saints are human beings. They become a saint the moment they know they are loved by God.”  Wow, simple, profound, and yet a challenge.

On our parish pilgrimage to France, Spain and Portugal, we stood on the ground where St. Dominic, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Ignatius of Loyola lived. They once walked this earth and now are living legacies and powerful witnesses to Christ’s love in their lives. They are intercessors for us. Also among the “communion of saints” are those loved ones in our lives who died and continue to intercede on our behalf in heaven. This could be your grandparents, parents, siblings, children or friends. Their faith lives on in us.

We are all called to holiness. We are grateful that God continues to call men and women to ministry, where they give witness to God’s love through their unique vocation. Each of us can be that “walking saint” in our world, leading others to Christ through our words and actions. We are strengthened when we walk together in that path for holiness.  It is not an easy task. Christ calls us to discipleship where we can be a stained glass window, manifesting the love of God that shines in and through our lives. My friends, it’s a blessing to know you as living saints in the making. 

Posted by Mary Lestina
Tags: faith, saints

Community

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The loss of community has been the hardest consequence of this pandemic and has dramatically changed our lives. What had been classes, family gatherings, and Masses, became “virtual” classes, meetings, and Masses. These are awesome alternatives, but they don’t replace being with one another. There is nothing like physical proximity and contact. For now, it is what we have.

As we return to having those direct interactions with one another, we realize what we’ve been missing. Yesterday, I had class with my fellow brothers in formation, and it was awesome to be together. My daughter and her family were also at that class, so that I could “practice” marry her. It was an emotionally supercharged day because of the rite and being with those I love.

This points out how important community is. Jesus knew that, and gave us the gift of the Eucharist to unite us to Him and to one another. While being physically separate doesn’t change that union, being together is clearly better. I trust that as we return to “normal” you will feel the restoration of the profound community that is Christ in the Eucharist.

Posted by Kurt Peot

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