Tuesday, May 7, 2024

I Believe in the Holy Spirit . . .

Dear Parishioners,

Pentecost Sunday. The Holy Spirt is poured out on the Apostles. The Catholic Church comes alive! 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us: 

The mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit is brought to completion in the Church, which is the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit. This joint mission henceforth brings Christ's faithful to share in his communion with the Father in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit prepares men and goes out to them with his grace, in order to draw them to Christ. The Spirit manifests the risen Lord to them, recalls his word to them and opens their minds to the understanding of his Death and Resurrection. He makes present the mystery of Christ, supremely in the Eucharist, in order to reconcile them, to bring them into communion with God, that they may "bear much fruit." (Jn. 15: 8, 16)  CCC #737

I think that we need to be reminded regularly about the presence of the Holy Spirit continually working among us. Let me relate to you a quite remarkable and unforgettable instance from my past.

While I was still in high school work, the theology department from my high school at the time would annually bring the senior class to Maris Stella Church in Avalon, NJ for a Day of Recollection. The day was known to the students as Senior Retreat. While I would inevitably celebrate the Mass for the students, I was not usually the speaker chosen to present all the talks or reflections the entire day. This one particular year, while I had some free time, I was given the duty to travel to the local convenience store to pick up lunch for all the chaperones.

As I was leaving the convenience store with the bag of sandwiches and other edibles in my arms, a young man approached me and asked if I were a Catholic Priest.  I was dressed in my black clerical garb wearing my roman collar at the time.  After telling him “yes,” he asked if he could speak to me in private.

In the course of the conversation, he told me that it was his birthday that day and he had prayed to God specifically for the opportunity to go to confession. He later sees me in the convenience store! And he was given the answer to his prayer—to go to confession—for some unbelievable, mysterious reason!

I wonder what the odds were of meeting this particular person at this particular convenience store in this particular town at this particular time for this particular purpose.  Probably as great odds as hitting the Power Ball! I believe it was the Holy Spirit mysteriously at work in a remarkable way!  This was not the first time—and I am pretty confident that it will not be the last time—when God’s Holy Spirit would mysteriously and inexplicably guide the course of things. Some may call it “chance” or a “random occurrence.” I, however, see it as God’s Holy Spirit at work in response to prayer.

On this Pentecost Sunday, try to become more attuned to the presence and working of God’s Holy Spirit in your daily lives. Just as the apostles were guided, strengthened and enlightened by the Holy Spirit on that first Pentecost, trust that the same Holy Spirit is present today, willing to do the same for you!

Oh, by the way, a strange occurrence happened to me subsequently when I went on a sick call. Intending to bring Holy Communion and the Anointing of the Sick to one particular person (as requested), I just “happened” to be temporarily delayed. Later, when I finally went, I inexplicably crossed paths with someone else looking for a priest to do the same for an entirely different person! Was this just another coincidence? Or was it rather God’s Holy Spirit mysteriously guiding me once again to do His work?

If you ask me, I’ll simply tell you that I believe in the Holy Spirit.

Fr. Ed Namiotka


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