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Father Muench Says...

Celebrating the Holy Spirit

May 27, 2020

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

It is called the Birthday of the Church. I am referring to the Feast of Pentecost, celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles. On Pentecost, the Church celebrates the Holy Spirit – a most important Feast Day of the Catholic Church’s Liturgical year. However, every day of the year is a celebration of the Holy Spirit. We believe that the Holy Spirit is always active in the lives of the People of God, in our Church, bringing peace and guidance to our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and to the bishops of our Church. The Holy Spirit is also involved in the lives of us all, people of faith, the people of our Catholic Church – of all the Baptized.

I am certain that you have heard and learned a great deal about the theology of the Holy Spirit. Do you remember your Confirmation Class? So, I’m going to remember and study again the things we learned about the Holy Spirit as we prepare for Pentecost Sunday. For my part today, I would like to share with you my personal experiences with the Holy Spirit.

I believe that the Holy Spirit came into my life with real force through the sacrament of confirmation. I say that because I know that in those years after confirmation, I had to make many important decisions, especially concerning my vocation in life. I now have great faith and confidence in the Holy Spirit. In those days, it was a question of surprises. So many very surprising things came along, including teachers who helped me and friends who were part of my life. I remember well a friend who had a yellow Jeep, a post war Jeep. He never expressed an interest in a religious vocation but certainly supported me. I can remember we often headed to school early so we could attend morning Mass, especially during Lent.

Through my seminary years, the Holy Spirit became a rather close friend. Then there were many times for firm decisions leading to ordination. Each ordination was preceded by a retreat, a time for moments of decision and planning for the future. These were time of praying to the Holy Spirit and times for listening to the Holy Spirit. There were many advisors and powerful preachers, however, I am certain that the Holy Spirit had my attention.

During the ceremony of ordination, the new priest is asked to promise obedience to his Bishop. For me, the bishop of Ogdensburg. The heart of that promise was a readiness to accept the assignments I would receive from my bishop. I had no doubt that the Holy Spirit was right there leading and guiding me.

I believe that the Holy Spirit found for me the many happy assignments that have been part of my life as a priest. I have been truly blessed. Not only did the Holy Spirit find good assignments for me, but the Holy Spirit also constantly helped me with one decision after another as a priest and a pastor.

I would like to add quickly that the Holy Spirit is not just about religious vocations. As people of faith, we are called to realize that God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, touches the lives of all of us as we work out our vocation. We believe that we are all called and guided by the Holy Spirit. Some will be called to a religious vocation – as a priest, or a religious sister, or to a dedicated single life. Others may be called to the married state that may include being a parent.

I believe that the Holy Spirit becomes part of our dedication as a Baptized and Confirmed Catholic, leading us and guiding us and showing us the way, giving each of us the power and the confidence to follow the call of the Holy Spirit.

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