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Father Muench Says...

Remembering the gifts of the Spirit

May 31, 2023

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Today I would like to begin by sending my congratulations to this year’s priest Jubilarians of our Diocese of Ogdensburg. At the same time, I want to add my gratitude to each of them. This is a very special group of priests and pastors. So, I want to honor them by mentioning their names here: Monsignor C. J. McAvoy, Father Mike Gaffney, Monsignor John Murphy, Father Sony Pulickal, Father Robert Decker, Father Pat Ratigan, Father Dick Demers.

This is a perfect time in our Catholic Liturgical Year to celebrate our Jubilarians. We are now coming to the Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. The Acts of the Apostles tells us he whole story.

I can only imagine how disturbed those apostles were. Jesus had ascended; the apostles were left on their own, and they probably wondered if they would if they would suffer as Jesus did. Then Pentecost – the Holy Spirit came upon those apostles in power, and they received courage as never before. They then responded with courage and readiness to go into the streets to proclaim the message of the Lord Jesus.

In faith, I believe that the Holy Spirit is still active in our Church. I can only imagine how we need a new Pentecost today;  the power and courage that the Holy Spirit can give to today’s disciples of the Lord.

Our Catholic Church constantly needs the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

I remember well at the time of the Second Vatican Council; Pope Saint John XXIII began the Council by challenging the bishops in attendance to throw open the Church’s windows to allow the action of the Holy Spirit.

Today, we best remember the action of the Holy Spirit by recognizing the Gifts of the Holy Spirit that come to us all in the Sacrament of Confirmation. These gifts are ours, each one of us, but we are the ones that must put them into action. Do you remember? Wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. So now just a little about each.

Wisdom: The Holy Spirit guides us to see everything with the eyes of God. We are guided to see ourselves, recognizing God’s love for us and God’s readiness to love us enough to forgive our sins, always ready to support us. With the Holy Spirit we see others with the eyes of God, the needy, the poor, the marginal.

Understanding: The Holy Spirit helps us, Christians, to know well God’s plan for our salvation. The Gospels help us to understand better the Lord’s teachings and all that he had to suffer.

Counsel: The Holy Spirit guides us to make wise choices in communion with our God. This gift is a gift of prudence. We are supported by the Lord and led in the making of decisions.

Knowledge: The Holy Spirit helps us to realize how great is the love of God. We are led to realize how profound is God’s relationship with each of us.

Fortitude: The Holy Spirit frees us from those things that keep us from doing the right things, free from laziness, uncertainty, like fear, from the fear that causes us to not act for the Lord.

Piety: The Holy Spirit helps us to truly trust God, leading us to a life of prayer and a deeper love of our God.

Fear of the Lord: The Holy Spirit helps us to realize the greatness of God and how small we are before God, how great is God’s love for us and how we must trust God completely.

Pentecost is a time of transformation, transformation for the apostles and now for us. The Holy Spirit is sent to us by the Lord as he promised to make our lives all that they should be and to make our Church always ready to bring peace and the love of God to our parishes and our world.

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