Pentecost

“No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’, except by the Holy Spirit.”  1 Corinthians 12:3

On the first Pentecost a huge wind came upon the house where the apostles were hiding.  And then, tongues of fire came to rest on each one of them.  And then they left the house and everyone who heard them understood them.  I always took it that the apostles were speaking in all languages but it was the people who were able to understand everything that they said.  Wow.

Catholics believe that when we are confirmed that the Holy Spirit comes into us.  At that time then we become a “soldier of Christ”.  I learned that when I was confirmed in the 3rd grade.  I may not have always practiced that but I have always believed it.

Through the years though I know that the Holy Spirit has been alive in me.  I can feel it when He descends upon me.  I can feel it right before I serve as Lector during Mass.  I can feel it when I watch my children practice their faith.  I can feel it when I attempt to influence others in my faith.  I can feel it.  And it’s not just a feeling.  It’s physical.  In other situations I would consider it to be butterflies.  But when I am professing my faith those butterflies take on a whole new meaning.

Right now I feel those butterflies in my arms, not telling me what to write but encouraging me to write.  Writing is pretty scary.  I can understand how scared those apostles had to be.  They saw what happened to Jesus.  And yet they were told by Jesus that they had to go out, put themselves out there, to teach about Him.  I’m sure they were sitting there going, “yeah, right”.  I can remember when I made up my mind to do what God asked me to do.  It was only then that He made me write.  Writing is one thing, letting someone read it is something completely different.  But when He had me to write, He also put people in front of me that I could ask to read my writing.  I remember my son, who is a writer, and a teacher, proofread my writing.  I had to go back to him and tell him I wasn’t looking for an editor, I was looking for his opinion.  I let others read what I had to write and most didn’t comment at all.  That was good for me.  A no comment meant to me that they didn’t hate it.  Subsequently I have gotten good comments out of those people.  But those silent opinions made me realize that maybe I could write, maybe I did have something to say.  And so I have decided that it is my writing that the Holy Spirit wants to see out of me.

He wants different things out of different people.  In that 1 Corinthians reading this week at Mass it goes onto say “As a body is on though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.”  In order to accomplish all that we need to do for Christ we must all take our talents and put them out there.  I claim a “hand” in that body.  You’ve got to have a “hand” to write.  I could see my youngest son saying “I get the mouth”.  He’s not much of a writer but he has a lot to say so give that boy a microphone.

I have always liked the image of the tongues of fire.  I took a picture years ago of a confirmation class at Youth 2000.  We had all the kids lined up with the monks who put on the retreat.  You can see orbs in that picture, over some of the kids’ heads.  I thought that was so interesting.  If that doesn’t make you believe I don’t know what would.  Honestly, when I dug out that picture I thought there were more.  It’s still pretty cool.

confirmation

What’s more important is that we do have the Holy Spirit in our lives.  He’s there, whether we feel Him or not.  Sometimes life will squash him down but He’s still there and given the right opportunity He will make His presence known.  We just have to be open to listening to Him.

Cynthia Elder

 

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Pentecost

I don’t remember when it was that I made up my mind that I really liked the idea of Pentecost.  I’m sure it was as a child but it could have been later in my life.  I mean, I’ve been with a group of people, scared out of my mind, so I can relate to the apostles.  It seemed comforting to me that something came over these guys that gave them the faith, strength and bravery to go out and tell the world all that they knew about this man who had just left them again and told them to tell the world about Him.  Wouldn’t it be so cool if that could happen?

But if you believe in Pentecost, then it really did happen.  And it happens every time that someone is Confirmed.

Cynthia Elder

Being raised in the 1960’s was a weird time to be a Catholic.  Things were changing in the Catholic Church because of the Second Vatican Council.  A lot of people were still old school but there was this new group who wanted to keep up with the changes that the Church was undergoing.  I think I would have held onto the tradition of the Church.  I’m not one for change. But, back then, children were confirmed every three or four years.  Any child who had made their First Communion was eligible to be Confirmed.  I made my First Communion in the second grade and was Confirmed in the third.  I didn’t have a clue about this whole process but I still, to this day, remember three things:  I got to wear this really cool red beanie (I may still have it); that day I put on the Armor of Christ; the Holy Spirit entered my heart.

Here I am, 50 years later, and even though I put on the Armor of Christ back then, there are times that I don’t feel like I have ever got to battle for Him.  I have never stood up in front of a crowd and told the world that I belonged to Him.  Okay, I have, but I was surrounded by others that knew and loved Him so I don’t think that counts.  I like to think that I don’t have to shout to the heavens about Him.  I like to think that the way I live my life shouts to the heavens.  I would rather do that than pound my chest and tell the whole world that I am a Soldier of Christ but not live my life as a Soldier of Christ.

What about the people of this work, and there are a lot of them, who haven’t experienced Christ the way that I have?  What about the people who are walking around like lost lambs?  Isn’t it my responsibility as a Soldier of Christ to round those people up and at least let them see what God has done for me, what God can do for them?  I don’t want to preach, but I want people to know. God has been good to me, and it is only because of Him that I have the life I have.  Don’t I have to be responsible enough to show them?

I think so.  I think that is exactly what we are supposed to do.  And yes, that does require us putting yourselves out there, but we are not out there alone.  Because, at Pentecost, at our Confirmation, the Holy Spirit has entered our heart.  He is right there with us, pushing us to do exactly that.  Sometimes, I get to be the Lector at Mass.  Sometimes I feel that I am not the one reading, I am just the voice of the Holy Spirit.  I know that sounds weird but we all have had times that we have done something extra special and we don’t know how we pulled it off.  I tend to believe that is when the Holy Spirit is at work, and just using me as his instrument.  Sometimes I read my writing and wonder where it came from.  Those are the times that I am sure that someone is telling me which keys to type.  I don’t mind being the instrument of the Holy Spirit because who am I that He blessed with that?  I hate to pull a line from Wayne’s World, but “I am not worthy!”

We all have that call, don’t we?  Sometimes we override that call, our “gut”:  that is going to embarrass me or cause me harm.  Sometimes we give ourselves  excuses as to why we don’t have to do what we are being called to do.  But when we let the Spirit move us then wonderful things happen.  And if we are lucky enough to do what God wants us to do, then we are truly a Soldier of Christ and truly do for Him.  A lot of us wonder how we can improve our faith life, well I think that would be a great start.  Let the Spirit tell you what He wants of you.  Some of us are led to preach, some are to lead by example, some are led to write . . .

If we have the Holy Spirit with us, and Christ behind us, how can we ever conceive of failing?

How’s Your Lent Going?

If you have been going to St. Jerome Church in Fancy Farm during Lent, Fr. Darrell Venters asks you during his sermon “How’s Your Lent Going”.  We go to early Mass so when he asks the congregation is not necessarily enthusiastic.  We remember that we are supposed to be excited about our response and say it with conviction but usually there’s a whole lot of “uh, yeah, okay, I guess”.  Why Fr. Darrell puts up with us is beyond me, sometimes.

So, I’ll tell you how my Lent’s going.  I wish, better.  But I will tell you that there is not a day that goes by that anyone in my family doesn’t know that it’s Lent.  We know.  Trust me, we know.
Usually, we all do the same thing year after year.  We give up something.  We try to pray more.  We go through the different services out at church.  Yeah, we participate in Lent.
But this year has been different, and it has been harder.
Lent is to remind us about the life, death and resurrection of Christ.  It portrays Christ’s journey into the desert, his journey out of the desert, the passion of his death and then the resurrection.  This is one of the most important spiritual journeys for Christians throughout the year.  It prepares you for the most holy of days, Easter Sunday and the resurrection of Christ.
Raising my family Catholic has been a joy for me.  But there’s no room for slacking as the mother.  It doesn’t matter how bad you feel, you have to go to Mass on Sunday.  You have to get the family up and ready.  And during Lent, if you’ve given up something then you can’t cheat.  If you don’t want to go to Stations of the Cross, you have to go.  Sometime during that season you have to make sure that everyone gets to confession.
And you can’t give in.  Most years we will travel during Lent one weekend.  That means that we’re out on the road on a Friday.  My dear, sweet husband always makes an excuse that we can eat meat because we’re traveling.  Well, I’m sure there’s a way around it but I force him to eat fish.  Not that that is a sacrifice for him.  Normally Fish Fry Friday is one of the best meals we eat throughout the week.  So there’s not much suffering there.
And when everyone whines and says it’s really okay for us to come off our fast on Sunday or at another time I have to remind them that Jesus didn’t come out of the desert on a Sunday.   I tell them that He did so much for us and asks only so little of us in return.
But getting through the fast seems to be the hardest part of Lent during the first part of Lent.  But if you are truly engaged in the season then the second half of Lent can be the hardest.  That is the time that you prepare for the journey of Christ coming out of the desert and the path to His death.
During Lent we are fortunate to have the opportunity to follow the Stations of the Cross
weekly as a community.  And different versions are presented each week.  Of course the story never changes.  The story is that Christ is condemned to death and then crucified on the cross.  The path of His journey never changes but hopefully our hearts change throughout the season of Lent to prepare ourselves for the celebration of the Resurrection.
I have always fussed at myself that I concentrate too much on the Passion and crucifixion.  Every year I find myself wishing and hoping that this is the year that someone stands up and saves Him.  We all know the story but there’s this little bit within me that wishes that He didn’t have to suffer as He did, and die.
Sometimes it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the passion of the Passion that it’s hard to see past it to the glory of Easter Sunday.  Usually I berate myself for a week or two and insist that the whole thing is how it has to be in order for the scriptures to be fulfilled and (here’s the big thing here) for my sins to be forgiven.  I know that it’s only through the death and resurrection that I am saved into eternal life.  I know this.  But oh, I wish that someone would have stood up for Him.  Of course, then you have to consider that we all probably would not be following Him over 2000 years later if someone had stood up and kept Christ from being crucified.  Because it is only through the crucifixion and Resurrection that we have salvation.  I know that.  I truly know that.
So this year, I have vowed to follow Christ’s journey out of the desert to Golgotha, and beyond.  But my emphasis now is Easter Sunday morning and let me tell you, I cannot wait.  If you were to tell me that I was anxious for peanut M&Ms, Dove chocolates and malted milk balls, I would tell you that you know me well.  But I cannot wait for the Resurrection.  I cannot wait for the Acts of the Apostles and those guys trying to figure out what they are supposed to do now.  Because I am just like that in my faith journey.  I’m great when someone tells me what I need to be doing.  But give me a little bit of free will and woosh, there goes my good intentions.  I cannot wait for the promise of Pentecost and the hope of the Holy Spirit.  I cannot wait for the mysteries of the Risen Christ and all that He accomplished after the Resurrection.  And I cannot wait for His Ascension into heaven and the promise of His second coming.
So, looking past Lent, and the Passion, and the Crucifixion and the Resurrection offers so much promise for all of us.  All we have to do is be open to it and keep our eyes open.  We need to always be ready.
Cynthia Elder