Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Romero’s beatification date set

Romero posterAfter years of reading and talking and listening to the case for Archbishop Oscar Romero’s beatification, Pope Francis heard the final testimony that it was the hatred for the Catholic faith that Romero was killed. He declared his intention to name Romero a martyr.

A CNS story talks about the recent decision to beatify Oscar Romero and set the date of Saturday, May 23, 2015 as the day for the ceremony in El Salvador. This is the eve of Pentecost this year. The Prefect of the Congregation of the Causes for Saints will offer the Mass and the rite of beatification, Cardinal Angelo Amato.

Carlos X gives this analysis of the connection with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and Romero’s beatification:

[the day can be understood] as a retrospective on his ministry as a bishop, and as a meditation on the great charge that Romero sought to fulfill.

  • First, Romero died during Lent and was buried on Palm Sunday.  It seems sadly and sweetly fitting that he should return after Easter, resurrected not only in his people but in his Church, in which he will be raised to the honor of its altars.
  • Second, this Pentecost will be the 40th anniversary of Romero’s first pastoral letter, “The Holy Spirit in the Church,” issued in May 1975 while he was Bishop of Santiago de Maria.  Many will want to read that pastoral letter; they will find that it serves as an apt road map for the bishop that was Oscar Romero, and that he was faithful to its most fervent objectives.
  • Finally, Pentecost is the inspiration for the Second Vatican Council, and the Latin American bishops’ synods at Medellín (1968) and Puebla (1979), which guided Romero’s ministry.  It is impossible to read Romero’s episcopate but through the prism of these modern “Cenacles.”

Augustine’s Prayer to the Holy Spirit

augustineBreathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.

(St Augustine of Hippo)

Are you begging the Holy Spirit for a new outpouring of His gifts?

Saints John XXIII and John Paul II

Gaudet Mater EcclesiaToday, Sunday, 27 April 2014, Pope Francis recognized as saints Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. Also present was Benedict XVI, pope emeritus, concelebrating Holy Mass. He say among the cardinals. More than 90 heads of state, other secular leaders among with more than a thousand bishops and 150 cardinals were present with more than a million people.

At the heart of this Sunday, which concludes the Octave of Easter and which John Paul II wished to dedicate to Divine Mercy, are the glorious wounds of the risen Jesus.

He had already shown those wounds when he first appeared to the Apostles on the very evening of that day following the Sabbath, the day of the resurrection. But, as we heard, Thomas was not there that evening, and when the others told him that they had seen the Lord, he replied that unless he himself saw and touched those wounds, he would not believe. A week later, Jesus appeared once more to the disciples gathered in the Upper Room, and Thomas was present; Jesus turned to him and told him to touch his wounds. Whereupon that man, so straightforward and accustomed to testing everything personally, knelt before Jesus with the words: “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28).

The wounds of Jesus are a scandal, a stumbling block for faith, yet they are also the test of faith. That is why on the body of the risen Christ the wounds never pass away: they remain, for those wounds are the enduring sign of God’s love for us. They are essential for believing in God. Not for believing that God exists, but for believing that God is love, mercy and faithfulness. Saint Peter, quoting Isaiah, writes to Christians: “by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Pet 2:24, cf. Is 53:5).

Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II were not afraid to look upon the wounds of Jesus, to touch his torn hands and his pierced side. They were not ashamed of the flesh of Christ, they were not scandalized by him, by his cross; they did not despise the flesh of their brother (cf. Is 58:7), because they saw Jesus in every person who suffers and struggles. These were two men of courage, filled with the parrhesia of the Holy Spirit, and they bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy.

They were priests, bishops and popes of the twentieth century. They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful – faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of man and the Lord of history; the mercy of God, shown by those five wounds, was more powerful; and more powerful too was the closeness of Mary our Mother.

In these two men, who looked upon the wounds of Christ and bore witness to his mercy, there dwelt a living hope and an indescribable and glorious joy (1 Pet 1:3,8). The hope and the joy which the risen Christ bestows on his disciples, the hope and the joy which nothing and no one can take from them. The hope and joy of Easter, forged in the crucible of self-denial, self-emptying, utter identification with sinners, even to the point of disgust at the bitterness of that chalice. Such were the hope and the joy which these two holy popes had received as a gift from the risen Lord and which they in turn bestowed in abundance upon the People of God, meriting our eternal gratitude.

faithful on 27 April 2014This hope and this joy were palpable in the earliest community of believers, in Jerusalem, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. 2:42-47), as we heard in the second reading. It was a community which lived the heart of the Gospel, love and mercy, in simplicity and fraternity.

This is also the image of the Church which the Second Vatican Council set before us. John XXIII and John Paul II cooperated with the Holy Spirit in renewing and updating the Church in keeping with her pristine features, those features which the saints have given her throughout the centuries. Let us not forget that it is the saints who give direction and growth to the Church. In convening the Council, John XXIII showed an exquisite openness to the Holy Spirit. He let himself be led and he was for the Church a pastor, a servant-leader, led by the Spirit. This was his great service to the Church; he was the pope of openness [NB: from editor docility] to the Spirit.

In his own service to the People of God, John Paul II was the pope of the family. He himself once said that he wanted to be remembered as the pope of the family. I am particularly happy to point this out as we are in the process of journeying with families towards the Synod on the family. It is surely a journey which, from his place in heaven, he guides and sustains.

May these two new saints and shepherds of God’s people intercede for the Church, so that during this two-year journey toward the Synod she may be open to the Holy Spirit in pastoral service to the family. May both of them teach us not to be scandalized by the wounds of Christ and to enter ever more deeply into the mystery of divine mercy, which always hopes and always forgives, because it always loves.

Saint Basil the Great and the Holy Spirit

Sts Basil and GregoryThe Church prays today,

O God, who were pleased to give light to your Church by the example and teaching of the bishops Saints Basil and Gregory: Grant, we pray, that in humility, we may learn your truth and practice it faithfully in charity.

Though it is the feast of two saints, I want to concentrate on Basil and his emphasis on the Holy Spirit. We began the new year with the praying of the Veni Creator Spiritus to set new year with a renewed relationship with Triune-God.

One of the great patristic source of our Christian pneumatology comes from Saint Basil the Great. Catholics are frequently, and with good reason, accused of forgetting the work of the Holy Spirit. Some will even call the Spirit the forgotten God. Systematic theologians of the West make the claim that theological reflection, especially in the 20th century, have neglected the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; and I would also claim that these same theologians have neglected the activity of the Holy Spirit in the sacred Liturgy. Too often in theological reflection, catechesis, and preaching the Holy Spirit is forgotten sacramentally and the Mass. No Holy Spirit, no Trinity. The good news is that Dominican Cardinal Yves Congar helped to restore a working knowledge of the Holy Spirit with the publication of his 3 volume work, I Believe in the Holy Spirit.

One of the key parts of Basil’s work, On the Holy Spirit, is his use of the baptismal formulation –the lex orandi, lex credendi– found in Saint Matthew’s Gospel to show that the Holy Spirit is integrally connected with the Father and Son as God;  this formulation is now the tradition of the Church.

“What makes us Christians? “Our faith,” everyone would answer. How are we saved? Obviously through the regenerating grace of baptism. How else could we be? We are confirmed in our understanding that salvation comes through the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit . . . If we now reject what we accepted at baptism, we will be found further away from our salvation than when we first believed,” (On the Holy Spirit, 10).

His teaching is clear: we are saved by the regenerating waters of baptism: washed of sin, and anointed as priest, prophet and king, we become by adoption what Christ is by nature. The door of salvation is opened in this sacrament of illumination, regeneration, and adoption. The baptismal grace, therefore, is from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and it is salvific because it makes the beatific vision possible. We make the salvation known today through baptizing of people “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 28:19).

When you meet Christ, you accept his history

Father Sergius Bulgakov expressed himself very adequately when he said: “He who has once met Christ, His Savior, on his own personal path, and has felt His Divinity, has, in that very moment, accepted all fundamental Christian dogmas — Virgin Birth, incarnation, Second Glorious Advent, the Coming of the Comforter, the Holy Trinity. To this I want to add: Or else he has not yet met Christ, or, at any rate, has not recognized him.”

— Father Georges Florovsky in The Work of the Holy Spirit in Revelation

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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