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Deacon-structing Pentecost

June 4, 2017
Parishioners hold hands during a July 30 Mass at the Hispanic Congress of the Diocese of Sioux City, Iowa, held July 30-31 in Sioux City. (CNS photo Jerry L. Mennenga, Catholic Globe)
This Pentecost weekend, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Some of you may be suspicious or cautious when it comes to the Charismatic Renewal, but there is no need to. This is one of the most visible fruits of the Second Vatican Council.
The origins of the Charismatic movement are simple. In 1967, two professors at Duquesne University in Pittsburg, after a Cursillo Weekend and learning about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, attended a prayer service where they received Baptism of the Holy Spirit. They, in turn prayed over others, who also experienced the Holy Spirit. At another event, after praying over others, they too received the Spirit and began to pray in Tongues. Today the Catholic Charismatic Renewal exists in over 230 countries around the world. All popes since 1967, from Paul VI to Pope Francis have supported the Movement.
To be brief, the Movement sees in itself gifts that were present in the Early Church. This weekend, as we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost, we hear of the Apostles receiving the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. It is also the Spirit that made it possible for healings and prophecy to occur then. The same Spirit is at work today.

We should not be afraid of the Spirit.

My first experience with the Holy Spirit was when I was about 12 years old. A new associate pastor arrived at our parish that year. He was a newly ordained, young priest. He saw that there was no youth group and decided to start one. So he invited all the youth of the parish to go with him on a weekend retreat. So my mother packed her three kids and sent us along.
I don’t remember much of the retreat, but I remember the first night fairly clearly.
We were all in the small chapel, standing around the Blessed Sacrament praying. And there were people speaking in tongues, people crying and people singing in tongues – people falling over... I must say, a very strange scene for a 12-year old boy. We were all young – I was probably one of the youngest, but most were between 15 and 20 years old. But I don’t remember thinking that it was strange. In fact, I remember that it was the most beautiful scene in the world. It was as if we had experienced a little bit of heaven here on earth.

Since then I’ve had a very good relationship with the Holy Spirit.

But, most of us have never had experiences with the Holy Spirit like that one I had. However, we’ve all received the Holy Spirit. If you’ve received a Sacrament, you’ve received the Holy Spirit because we receive the Holy Spirit with each Sacrament. When I got married, my wife and I both received the Holy Spirit. When we baptised our two boys, they received the Holy Spirit and so did we.
But we don’t usually feel anything when we receive the Holy Spirit. When I was ordained to the Permanent Diaconate, the bishop prayed for the Holy Spirit to descend upon the candidates... and I felt... absolutely nothing. But that doesn’t mean that we didn’t receive the Holy Spirit.
While I was in Theatre School at York University, we learned two basic acting techniques: The first is what is called “method acting”. This is when you try to feel something before you say or do what you have to say or do. For example, if my character has to scream in anger, first I have to feel angry. Once I feel the anger, I can angrily yell, “I’m angry!” The other technique is completely the opposite. You don’t have to feel anything, simply yell, at the top of your lungs, “I’m angry!” and I bet that after a while you’ll begin to feel angry.

I think it’s the same with the Spirit.

If you don’t feel the Spirit, it doesn’t matter. Act as if you have the Spirit. If you don’t feel like you have joy or love; if you don’t feel patience, humility, courage or strength or any of the gifts or fruits of the Spirit, no worries, just behave as if you have them. Behave as if you have all the gifts and fruits of the Spirit: Act with honesty, goodness, and modesty and I bet that soon enough you’ll be able to feel the Spirit.
One of the first prayers I learned as a kid is one that I’m sure many of you know:
“Come Holy Spirit; fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created and thou shalt renew the face of the earth.”
Christ gives us the Holy Spirit so that we have the strength to renew the face of the earth. We don’t receive the Holy Spirit so that we can keep it to ourselves, so we can feel peaceful and comfortable.

We receive the Holy Spirit so that we can help Christ transform the earth.

We receive the Holy Spirit so we can act!
At Mass, just before the Words of Institution, the priest will ask the Holy Spirit to descend upon the gifts of bread and wine so that they become the body and blood of Jesus. It’s the Holy Spirit that makes the Sacrament possible. It’s the Holy Spirit that makes the transformation possible. At the moment of Communion, when we receive Christ in the Eucharist, we receive the Holy Spirit. Don’t forget this.
And when Mass is over, the deacon will say, “Go in peace, alleluia, alleluia” and you will respond, “Thanks be to God, alleluia, alleluia.” Don’t just say it. Say it like you mean it. Now that you have the Spirit of Christ, act like it and go and renew the face of the earth!
“Come Holy Spirit; fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created and thou shalt renew the face of the earth.”
Patti Gallagher Mansfield, front left, was a 20-year-old junior at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh when she attended a Holy Spirit retreat Feb. 18, 1967, with about 25 college students. The "Duquesne Weekend" is the acknowledged beginnings of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the United States, which has spread around the world. (CNS photo/courtesy Patti Gallagher Mansfield)

pedro Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching: pedro@saltandlighttv.org.
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