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Father Muench Says...

Considering the Holy Spirit

May 4, 2022

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

The Feast of Easter ends the celebrations of Holy Week as we rejoice in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. As a Church, this celebration continues for several weeks – our Easter Season. This liturgical season reminds us of the many resurrection stories in the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles.

The Church’s Easter season leads us to the celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit, Pentecost, when God comes in a special way to transform the Church through the action of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit continues to bring new life to our Catholic Church.

Let us take some time today to consider the Holy Spirit. Each time at Mass when we pray the Nicene Creed, we proclaim our faith and belief in the Holy Spirit. “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.”

St. John tells us in his Gospel account of the Last Supper that Jesus promised the apostles he would send the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “I have told you this while I am with you. The advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”

I am certain you will remember the powerful scene in the Acts of the Apostles recounting the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles in wind and fire. The Holy Spirit brought power and readiness, challenging the apostles to preach and teach the message of Jesus to this world. No longer would they become afraid to speak out. They would even be bold enough to risk their lives.

For us, Catholics and disciples of the Lord, we believe in the power of the Holy Spirit that comes to us through the Church’s sacraments. For us all, it begins with baptism. We are brought into the life Christ’s Church with the Holy Spirit’s call to holiness. Jesus calls us to the high ideals of holiness through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus invites is in the Sermon on the Mount: “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

In the sacrament of confirmation, we recognize that the Holy Spirit comes to increase and deepen our baptismal graces. Confirmation increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The gift of wisdom enables us to see the world from God’s viewpoint. The gift of understanding stimulates us to work at knowing ourselves as part of our growth in knowing God. The Spirit pours the gift of fortitude as courage into our hearts, and we can trust that we will be prepared to stand up for Christ. The gift of reverence is an act of respect for the father who created us. The gift of fear of the Lord or wonder and awe in God’s presence can infuse honesty into our relationship with God.

In the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, in the Eucharistic Prayer, the priest prays over the bread and wine, “Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall, so that they may become for us the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Personally, I know only too well that the power of the Holy Spirit called me and lead me to discover my vocation as a priest. Bishop Navagh called upon the Holy Spirit through the sacrament of the holy orders to ordain me so that I could minister as a priest and bring the Blessed Eucharist to people in the parishes of the Diocese of Ogdensburg and to bring the forgiveness of sin to those in need in so many places in this world.

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