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Approaching the Time of the Spirit

As we come to the end of the Easter Season, the mood of the season begins to change a bit.  During the early part of the season the atmosphere was one of joy.  It began slowly with the recognition of the empty tomb and increased to one of complete joy as the apostles encountered the Risen Lord, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

But during the later weeks of the Easter Season we begin to hear Jesus reminding the Apostles that He will return to the Father and send another Advocate, the Holy Spirit.  On the Fifth Sunday of Easter this year we hear on the lips of Jesus, “I am indeed going to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2)  And at the end of this reading we hear the promise of Jesus that He is passing on the ministry to His apostles when He says, “I solemnly assure you, the man who has faith in Me will do the works I do, and greater far than these.  Why?  Because I go to the Father.” (John 14:12)

It is during the Sixth Sunday of Easter that we will finally hear Jesus more concretely speak of the Holy Spirit.  In this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus says, “If you love Me and obey the commands I give you, I will ask the Father and He will give you another Paraclete – to be with you always: the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, since it neither sees Him nor recognizes Him; but you can recognize Him because He remains with you and will be within you.” (John 14:15-17)

Following this Sixth Sunday of Easter, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Ascension on Thursday, forty days following the Resurrection. Jesus returns to the glory of the Father and for the Church He also gives the great commission to His Apostles, “Full authority has been given to Me both in heaven and on earth; go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations.  Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you.  And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world.” (Matt 28:18-20)  If we give this a bit of thought, we realize that the Apostles are to bring people into the reality of the Father, that God that the Jews knew from the beginning, they are to bring them into the reality of the Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Whom the Apostles had known and worked with and the one Whom they witnessed die on the cross for our salvation and also rise from the dead to bring us eternal life. And also to bring them into the reality of the Holy Spirit, an Advocate and Comforter, Who would guard them and guide them in the days to come and for the rest of their lives.

At this point it certainly may have been difficult for the Apostles to have an understanding of exactly what our Lord was trying to communicate to them.  While they certainly had faith in God the Father as Creator and in Jesus Christ, His Son, our Lord, the Holy Spirit, Who would guide and lead them was a more difficult, less concrete reality.  At the same time we also hear Jesus say to them in the gospel of Luke: “Thus it is written that the Messiah must suffer and rise from the dead on the third day.  In His name, penance for the remission of sins is to be preached to the nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of all this.  See, I send down upon you the promise of My Father.  Remain here in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:46-49)

It is here that we see that the time before the coming of the Holy Spirit must be a time of preparation, a time of getting ready to accept the Spirit and then go out into the world to convert and teach.  An excellent prayer to pray during this time of waiting is that prayer which is said during the Mass of the Solemnity of Pentecost: “Holy Spirit, Giver of Life, Who proceeds from the Father, have mercy on us.  As You descended upon the disciples in the upper room, so now once again descend upon Your Church.  Inflame our hearts, enlighten our minds and purify our souls.  For together with the Father and the Son, You live and reign, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”

As we pray this prayer we desire to be connected with the community of the infant Church and the Apostles in Jerusalem.  In this we desire to experience and know the pristine faith of the first followers of Jesus.  We ask God to inflame our hearts.  We know of the imagery of the tongues of fire that alighted on the heads of the Apostles and we want to have that same burning desire to know and understand all the things that Jesus has imparted to His followers.  As we speak of these two attributes of the Spirit, we also desire that, in being followers of Jesus and having the Spirit within us, we will partake fully of the gifts of the Spirit: Knowledge, Understanding, Wisdom, Counsel, Piety, Fortitude and Fear of the Lord.  Each of these divine gifts will help us to live good and holy lives and know and follow Jesus in the world.

We also ask the Spirit to enlighten our minds.  So much in the world today fills our minds, with things that are both good and bad.  We are constantly bombarded with things from all kinds of sources: television, social media, even our friends and acquaintances. And of course not all of these things are to our benefit or even good and holy.  We must have enlightened minds to know what we should cast aside and what we should retain.  St. Paul reminds us: “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)  But how are we to decide? We must ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds to know and also join in the community of the Church to be surrounded by these good things.

Lastly we ask the Spirit to ‘purify our souls.’  Of course we can look at this in the simple sense of our desire to have our sins forgiven so that we can participate fully in the community of the Church, and certainly this is something that is extremely important.  But we can also look beyond this to the desire to live in a way which is pure and holy at all times.  In this aspect it is not just looking at specific acts, but rather the totality of all that we are and all that we do.  We ask the Holy Spirit to purify our lives, purify our motives, purify our thoughts, purify all that we are.

It is in this way that we prepare ourselves so that we can then go out into the world to convert and teach.  Now I know that many will say that these aspects of the Church are the work of the clergy, the deacons, priests and bishops.  We see that they are the ones who preach the homilies during worship and it is often they who lead catechism classes and Bible studies; but this command of Jesus to “go and teach” is not only a command for the clergy.  While it is true that the bishops, priests and deacons have a specific ministry to preach the Word, the command to go and teach is so much more.

With the inflamed hearts, enlightened minds and purified souls we have prayed for, each and every Christian is called to be a witness to and be an example of the life of Jesus Christ in the world.  It is in this sense that the Future Direction Subcommittee of the Supreme Council has chosen the month of May to focus our attention on our goal to “Commit to the Holy Spirit to lead us.”  And this is both in a personal sense and also as families, communities, parishes and the entire Church.  It is with the Holy Spirit, Who lives within us, that we go about our lives being good examples to our children, our families and each other

It is inspired by this same Spirit that we take up our place within God’s Holy Church, some called to service in the ministry of administration of Parish Committees, Diocesan and National Commissions; some called to the ministry of service and devotion in the Women’s Society of the Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament and the Young Men’s Society of Resurrection; some called to the ministry of raising our families and leading them in the Christian Catholic faith; and all called to the ministry of
worshiping the one true God, Who gives life and sustains it.  In all of these ways and many more it is once again St. Paul who reminds us: “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)

In this time of waiting for the Spirit, in these weeks leading up to the Solemnity of Pentecost, pray for the Spirit to “inflame your heart, enlighten your mind and purify your soul” but also seek to know where the Spirit is leading you to be of service within the Church today.  If we say with conviction that “to each the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit” then pray and seek to know how the Spirit has gifted you to be of benefit and service to all of the people of God within our holy Polish National Catholic Church.

 

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Phone: (570) 346-9131
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