Malankara World Journal Pentecost - Birthday of Church
Volume 3 No. 143 May 16, 2013
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
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This Sunday (May 12, 2013) is the Pentecost Sunday. It is one of the most important feasts of our church. On Pentecost Jesus Christ fulfilled his promise to his disciples to send a "comforter" to explain everything to them after Jesus' departure on Ascension Thursday and be with them in helping them to manage and guide the infant church. For this reason, it is also called the 'birthday of the church.' The Holy Spirit united Jews and Gentiles into one body of faith, hope and love on the first Pentecost. Prior to Pentecost, followers of Jesus were mostly Jews.
The Christian Feast of Pentecost has its origin in the Jewish feast of Shavuot or Shavuos, the Festival of Weeks (Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:9–12; Numbers 28:26; Leviticus 23:15–22). The Feast of Weeks was a harvest festival in late spring when the first fruits were presented to the Lord in thanksgiving for his grace and mercy to his people. The festival of Pentecost was celebrated fifty days (Greek: pentecoste) after Passover. During this festival, Jews from all over the world converged into Jerusalem to attend the festival. So, when Holy Spirit appeared in the form of tongues, it was felt by people from all over the world. What a scene it was! People talking in different tongues and getting inspired! The comforter has arrived in style!
In his sermon 'O What A Day!' Jerry Vines stated:
We need to welcome the Holy Spirit into our lives to become the persons that Christ intended for us to be. We first receive Holy Spirit in our Baptism. Then we have it whenever we receive our Qurbana (Eucharist).
Holy Spirit, the third person of trinity, is something that is very difficult for people to comprehend. What exactly does it do? Last week, Pope Francis explained it beautifully:
Pope Francis explained that the Holy Spirit is "God active in us", "God who helps us remember," who "awakens our memory." Jesus himself explains this to the Apostles before Pentecost: the Spirit that God will send in my name, "will remind you of everything I have said." The opposite, the pope said, would lead the Christian down a dangerous path.
We know that Holy Spirit indwells in us after our baptism. With Holy Spirit, we receive seven gifts that sanctifies us.
The seven gifts of Holy Spirit are:
These gifts of the Holy Spirit have profound effect in our lives. They perfect certain basic virtues in us. The first four, for example, perfects our intellectual virtues. Understanding gives an intuitive penetration into truth. Wisdom perfects charity, in order to judge divine things. Knowledge perfects the virtue of hope. The gift of counsel perfects prudence.
The remaining three gifts perfect virtues of the will and appetites. For example, the gift of piety perfects justice in giving to others that which is their due. Fortitude prepares us in facing dangers. Fear of the Lord allows us to choose what is right and what is wrong when we are faced with multiple choices.
So, Holy Spirit has a significant impact on our lives as we welcome the spirit (Ruha) into our lives. Rev. Fr. Brijesh Philip beautifully illustrated the action of Holy Spirit:
Dr. Kathryn Greene-McCreight explained the significance of Pentecost to Orthodox Christians:
Holy Spirit, the third person of the Triune God, was there from the very beginning. Although it descended on the disciples on the day of Pentecost, it was there all along. (We saw it descending on Jesus during his baptism too.)
So, the saga of Holy Spirit, according to Dr. Dan Clendenin, began not with the birth of the church but before the beginning of time and the creation of the cosmos. The second sentence of the Bible makes the first mention of the Spirit, describing how at the mysterious beginnings of the cosmos God's Spirit hovered over all creation like a protective mother. In the epistle, Paul says the Spirit intercedes not just for humanity but for "the whole creation."
Dr. Kathryn Greene-McCreight adds, 'God brings into being by speaking the Word at creation. In the Word made flesh, God creates a new community of Jews for the life of the world. In the Revelation, the Seer urges the Lord in the final spoken words of the Christian Bible: "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev 22:20). Without the Word made Flesh and words about that word at least, the Christian faith would not be what it is.'
I hope that you have a little better understanding of the many roles played by Holy Spirit in our lives. The best part is that, Holy Spirit is already in us thanks to our Christian Baptism!
Spend some time this week meditating over the many gifts of God in your life and thank the triune god for the blessings. Please pray for the church that makes this possible for us. While you are praying, please pray for Malankara World too!
Dr. Jacob Mathew
This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings For Pentecost
Before Holy Qurbana
Service of the First kneeling
Service of the Second Kneeling
Service of the Third Kneeling
This Week's Features
May Almighty God, who enlightened the minds of the disciples by pouring out upon them the Holy Spirit, make you rich with his blessing, that you may abound more and more in that Spirit forever. Amen.
May God, who sent the Holy Spirit as a flame of fire that rested upon the heads of the disciples, burn out all evil from your hearts and make them shine with the pure light of his presence. Amen.
May God, who by the Holy Spirit caused those of many tongues to proclaim Jesus as Lord, strengthen your faith and send you out to bear witness to him more and more. Amen.
May the Spirit of Truth lead you into all truth, giving you grace to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and to proclaim the wonderful works of God, and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father,+ the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you, and remain with you always. Amen.
Today there are Seven Gifts lavishly given for each according to the need:
Knowledge for those who have lapsed in their study of faith,
by Pope Benedict XVI, Pentecost 2009
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
Every time that we celebrate the Eucharist we experience in faith the mystery that is accomplished on the altar, that is, we participate in the supreme act of love that Christ realized with his death and resurrection. The one center of the liturgy and of Christian life -- the paschal mystery -- then assumes specific "forms," with different meanings and particular gifts of grace, in the different solemnities and feasts. Among all the solemnities, Pentecost is distinguished by its importance, because in it that which Jesus himself proclaimed as being the purpose of his whole earthly mission is accomplished. In fact, while he was going up to Jerusalem, he declared to his disciples: "I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and how I wish for it to be kindled!" (Luke 12:49). These words find their most obvious realization 50 days after the resurrection, in Pentecost, the ancient Jewish feast that, in the Church, has become the feast of the Holy Spirit par excellence: "There appeared to them parted tongues as of fire ... and all were filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:3-4). The Holy Spirit, the true fire, was brought to earth by Christ. He did not steal it from the gods -- as Prometheus did according to the Greek myth -- but he became the mediator of the "gift of God," obtaining it for us with the greatest act of love in history: his death on the cross.
God wants to continue to give this "fire" to every human generation, and naturally he is free to do this how and when he wants. He is spirit, and the spirit "blows where he wills" (cf. John 3:8). However, there is an "ordinary way" that God himself has chosen for "casting fire upon the earth": Jesus is this way, the incarnate only begotten Son of God, dead and risen. For his part, Jesus constituted the Church as his mystical body, so that it prolongs his mission in history. "Receive the Holy Spirit" -- the Lord says to the Apostles on the evening of his resurrection, accompanying those words with an expressive gesture: he "breathed" upon them (cf. John 20:22). In this way he showed them that he was transmitting his Spirit to them, the Spirit of the Father and the Son.
Now, dear brothers and sisters, in today's solemnity Scripture tells us how the community must be, how we must be to receive the Holy Spirit. In his account of Pentecost the sacred author says that the disciples "were together in the same place." This "place" is the Cenacle, the "upper room," where Jesus held the Last Supper with his disciples, where he appeared to them after his resurrection; that room that had become the "seat," so to speak, of the nascent Church (cf. Acts 1:13). Nevertheless, the intention in the Acts of the Apostles is more to indicate the interior attitude of the disciples than to insist on a physical place: "They all persevered in concord and prayer" (Acts 1:14). So, the concord of the disciples is the condition for the coming of the Holy Spirit; and prayer is the presupposition of concord.
This is also true for the Church today, dear brothers and sisters. It is true for us who are gathered together here. If we do not want Pentecost to be reduced to a mere ritual or to a suggestive commemoration, but that it be a real event of salvation, through a humble and silent listening to God's Word we must predispose ourselves to God's gift in religious openness. So that Pentecost renew itself in our time, perhaps there is need -- without taking anything away from God's freedom [to do as he pleases] -- for the Church to be less "preoccupied" with activities and more dedicated to prayer. Mary Most Holy, the Mother of the Church and Bride of the Holy Spirit, teaches us this. This year Pentecost occurs on the last day of May, when the Feast of the Visitation is customarily celebrated. This event was also a little "Pentecost," bringing forth joy and praise from the hearts of Elizabeth and Mary -- the one barren and the other a virgin -- who both became mothers by an extraordinary divine intervention (cf. Luke 1:41-45).
The music and singing that is accompanying our liturgy, also help us to unite in prayer.
To indicate the Holy Spirit, the account in the Acts of the Apostles uses two great images, the image of the tempest and the image of fire. Clearly, St. Luke had in mind the theophany of Sinai, recounted in Exodus (19:16-19) and Deuteronomy (4:10-12:36). In the ancient world the tempest was seen as a sign of divine power, in whose presence man felt subjugated and terrified. But I would like to highlight another aspect: the tempest is described as a "strong driving wind," and this brings to mind the air that distinguishes our planet from others and permits us to live on it. What air is for biological life, the Holy Spirit is for the spiritual life; and as there is air pollution, that poisons the environment and living things, there is also pollution of the heart and the spirit, that mortifies and poisons spiritual existence. In the same way that we should not be complacent about the poisons in the air -- and for this reason ecological efforts are a priority today -- we should also not be complacent about that which corrupts the spirit. But instead it seems that our minds and hearts are menaced by many pollutants that circulate in society today -- the images, for example, that make pleasure a spectacle, violence that degrades men and women -- and people seem to habituate themselves to this without any problem. It is said that this is freedom but it is just a failure to recognize all that which pollutes, poisons the soul, above all of the new generations, and ends up limiting freedom itself. The metaphor of the strong driving wind of Pentecost makes one think of how precious it is to breathe clean air, be it physical air without lungs, or spiritual air -- the healthy air of the spirit that is love -- with our heart.
Fire is the other image of the Holy Spirit that we find in the Acts of the Apostles. I compared Jesus with the mythological figure of Prometheus at the beginning of the homily. The figure of Prometheus suggests a characteristic aspect of modern man. Taking control of the energies of the cosmos -- "fire" -- today human beings seem to claim themselves as gods and want to transform the world excluding, putting aside or simply rejecting the Creator of the universe. Man no longer wants to be the image of God but the image of himself; he declares himself autonomous, free, adult. Obviously that reveals an inauthentic relationship with God, the consequence of a false image that has been constructed of him, like the prodigal son in the Gospel parable who thought that he could find himself by distancing himself from the house of his father. In the hands of man in this condition, "fire" and its enormous possibilities become dangerous: they can destroy life and humanity itself, as history unfortunately shows. The tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in which atomic energy, used as a weapon, ended up bringing death in unheard of proportions, remain a perennial warning.
We could, of course, find many examples, less grave and yet just as symptomatic, in the reality of everyday life. Sacred Scripture reveals that the energy that has the ability to move the world is not an anonymous and blind power, but the action of the "spirit of God that broods over the waters" (Genesis 1:2) at the beginning of creation. And Jesus Christ "cast upon the earth" not a native power that was already present but the Holy Spirit, that is, the love of God, who "renews the face of the earth," purifying it of evil and liberating it from the dominion of death (cf. Psalm 103 : 29-30). This pure "fire," essential and personal, the fire of love, descended upon the Apostles, gathered together with Mary in prayer in the cenacle, to make the Church the extension of Christ's work of renewal.
Finally, a last thought also taken from the Acts of the Apostles: the Holy Spirit overcomes fear. We know that the disciples fled to the cenacle after the Master's arrest and remained there out of fear of suffering the same fate. After Jesus' resurrection this fear did not suddenly disappear. But when the Holy Spirit descended upon them at Pentecost, those men went out without fear and began to proclaim the good news of Christ crucified and risen. They had no fear, because they felt that they were in stronger hands. Yes, dear brothers and sisters, where the Spirit of God enters, he chases out fear; he makes us know and feel that we are in the hands of an Omnipotence of love: whatever happens, his infinite love will not abandon us. The witness of the martyrs, the courage of the confessors, the intrepid élan of missionaries, the frankness of preachers, the example of all the saints -- some who were even adolescents and children -- demonstrate this. It is also demonstrated by the very existence of the Church, which, despite the limits and faults of men, continues to sail across the ocean of history, driven by the breath of God and animated by his purifying fire. With this faith and this joyous hope we repeat today, through Mary's intercession: "Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth!"
This is a translation of Pope Benedict XVI's homily that he gave on May 31, 2009 in St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City during Mass for the Solemnity of Pentecost. Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic with minor editing.
Source: Zenit News Agency; © Innovative Media, Inc.
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
The subject of this article on "The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in the World" is an ocean. We might even say that all of Christianity is summarized in this one statement.
Christ's Promise of the Holy Spirit
On the way to His ascension, Christ promised to send the Holy Spirit on His followers. He told the disciples not to leave Jerusalem, but to "wait there for what the Father had promised." He reminded them: "It is what you have heard me speak about. John baptized with water, but you, not many days from now, will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." Then still more clearly, He predicted what the Holy Spirit would do in their lives. "You will receive power," Christ assured them, "when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and then you will be my witnesses, not only in Jerusalem, but throughout Judea and Samaria and indeed to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:4-5, 8).
In the original inspired text of the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus promised the disciples that they would be "my martyrs." If there was ever an age in Christian history when the followers of Christ would need the strength of martyrdom, it is today.
Our Lord could not have been more clear. He told us, "If you wish to be my disciples, take up your daily cross and follow me." The source of strength to suffer for Christ comes finally from the Holy Spirit. In the language of the New Testament, this power is the same kind of power by which miracles are performed.
Christ's promise of the Holy Spirit was the assurance that we would witness to Him before the world in which we live. The essence of being a martyr is to be a witness. And we know what a witness does. He gives testimony publicly that something he saw or heard is true. He has experience of a fact or an event, and as a witness he declares that what he says or signs his name to is so. He gives evidence to others that what he testifies to should be believed. Why? Because he personally knows.
We are liable to miss the preceding adjective "my" in the clause, "You shall be my martyrs." This prefix is crucial. Those who are martyrs are witnesses to Christ. They testify, if need be with their blood, that what they believe is true because they have known Christ. The implication is that in order to be a witness, even to martyrdom, one must have experienced Christ, in a way comparable to what Peter told the early Christians: "You did not see Him, yet you love Him. And still without seeing Him, you are already filled with joy so glorious that it cannot be described, because you believe" (1 Pet. 1:8).
So it was in the apostolic age, and so it is in ours. In order to witness to Christ we must believe in Him so strongly that we are filled with His joy. This joy which comes from the Holy Spirit is not devoid of pain.
But the joy is genuine and unmistakable. It is also profoundly communicable. In fact, one of the paradoxes of martyrdom is the positive happiness that a strongly committed follower of Christ has in suffering for Christ.
This is brought out dramatically by St. Luke, the evangelist of the Holy Spirit, in describing the summons of the apostles before the Sanhedrin. They had been warned not to preach about the Savior. So the apostles were flogged and warned not to speak in the name of Jesus. As they left the jail where they had been scourged, they were "glad to have had the honor of suffering humiliation for the sake of the name" (Acts 5:40-41).
Most of us know that at baptism, we receive the twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit. What many do not know is that these fruits are the twelve joys which the Holy Spirit gives us, already here on earth, a foretaste of the joys of heaven. Every time we cooperate with the will of God, He rewards us with a happiness of spirit in the measure that we are faithful to His grace. What an apparent contradiction! The more painful our cooperation with the divine will, the more joy we receive from the Holy Spirit.
Martyrdom of Opposition
Not all the faithful who suffer for Christ also die for Christ. Opposition to the Christian faith and way of life does not always end in violent death for the persecuted victims.
Consequently, it is well to distinguish between what may be called martyrdom of blood and martyrdom of opposition, which is bloodless indeed, but no less and sometimes more painful to endure.
Not all the victims of persecution die at the hands of a godless government. Millions more are ostensibly free to walk the streets and live in a home. Yet they are, in effect, deprived of every human liberty to practice their religion and to serve Christ according to their faith. If they teach their children catechism, the parents are prevented from enjoying such privileges as decent living quarters or any kind of skilled job. If they are seen attending church, they are first warned, then threatened, and finally penalized even to the loss of their possessions.
So the sorry tale goes on, and has been going on for years, in spite of the conspiracy of silence in our American press.
But that is not the whole picture. We need to shake ourselves into awareness that our country is going through persecution. It is no less real for being subtle, and no less painful for being perpetrated in the name of democracy.
What do I mean? I mean that any priest or religious, any married or single person in America who wishes to sincerely and fully live up to his Christian commitment, finds countless obstacles in his way and experiences innumerable difficulties that accumulatively demand heroic fortitude to overcome and withstand.
All we have to do is place the eight beatitudes in one column and the eight corresponding attitudes of our culture in another column, and compare the two. Where Christ advocates poverty, the world despises the poor and canonizes the rich. Where Christ praises gentleness, the world belittles meekness and extols those who succeed by crushing anyone who stands in their way. Where Christ encourages mourning and sorrow for sin, the world revels in pleasure and the noise of empty laughter. Where Christ promised joy only to those who seek justice and holiness, the world offers satisfaction in the enjoyment of sin. Where Christ bids us forgive and show mercy to those who have offended us, the world seeks vengeance and its law courts are filled with demands for retribution. Where Christ blesses those who are pure of heart, the world scoffs at chastity and makes a god of sex. Where Christ tells the peaceful that they shall be rewarded, the world teaches just the opposite in constant rebellion and violence and massive preparation for war. And where Christ teaches the incredible doctrine of accepting persecution with patience and resignation to God's will, the world dreads nothing more than criticism and rejection; and human respect which means acceptance by society, is the moral norm. On the bloody side, our century has had more Christians who were martyred for Christ than in all the centuries from Calvary to nineteen hundred included. I should know because not a few of my own relatives behind the iron curtain have shed their blood for Christ rather than deny their Catholic faith.
To this day, innumerable Christians are dying for their faith at the hands of Muslims who are told by the Koran to either convert Christians from their idolatry of adoring the man Jesus as though He were God, or put them to death.
But my focus here is on our country. Call it an un-bloody martyrdom. But have no doubt that to live an authentic Catholic life in America today is to live a martyr's life. That is why the sacrament of confirmation cannot be more clearly identified than to call it the sacrament of martyrdom. Only the Holy Spirit whom we received on our Pentecost Sunday can sustain us in our witness to Jesus Christ.
After fifty years in the priesthood, I can testify to every syllable of the following sentence: Only heroic bishops and heroic priests, heroic religious, heroic fathers and mothers, heroic faithful, will survive the massive persecution of the Church in our country today. We call ourselves the Land of Liberty. But the only liberty that is given freedom is the liberty to do your own will. Pro-choice is not just a clever phrase. It is the hallmark of a culture in which millions have chosen to do what they want and make life humanly impossible for those who choose to do what God wants.
Martyrdom of Witness
We still have one more type of martyrdom to reflect on, and it is, in a way, the most pervasive of all be cause no follower of Christ can escape it. This is the martyrdom of witness.
What do we mean by martyrdom of witness? Here the firm believer in the Church's teaching authority; the devoted servant of the papacy; the convinced pastor who insists on sound doctrine to his flock; the teenagers who want to preserve their chastity; the firm parents who are concerned about the moral training of their children such persons will not be spared active criticism and open opposition. But they must especially be ready to live in an atmosphere of coldness to their deepest beliefs.
Sometimes they would almost wish the opposition were more overt and even persecution would be a welcome change. It is the studied indifference of people whom they know and love, of persons in their own natural or religious family, of men and women whose intelligence they respect and whose respect they cherish.
This kind of apathy can be demoralizing and, un less it finds relief from the Holy Spirit, can be devastating.
To continue living a Christ-like life in this kind of environment is to practice the martyrdom of witness. Why witness? Because it means giving testimony to our deep religious convictions although all around us others are giving their own example to the contrary.
It means giving witness twice over: once on our own behalf as the outward expression of what we internally believe and once again on behalf of others whose conduct is not only different from ours, but contradicts it.
Wherein lies the martyrdom? It lies in the deprivation of good example to us on the part of our contemporaries, and in the practice of Christian virtue in loneliness, because those who witness what we do are in the majority. We witness to them, indeed, but they are not pleased to witness who we are, what we stand for, what we say, or what we do.
Notwithstanding all of this, however, it behooves us to look at the positive side of the picture. We must remind ourselves that this witness of ours is not so sterile as we may suppose. Quite the contrary. Al though we may be, or at least feel, often quite alone, we are not alone at all. Not infrequently our severest critics can become our strongest admirers. In any case, witness that we give by living up to the conviction of our faith is surely demanding on human nature. That is why we call it martyrdom. But it is a witness to the truth, and the grace of the Holy Spirit is always active in the hearts of everyone whose life we touch.
If we would know the power of this martyrdom of witness, we have only to read the annals of the early Church. The handful of believers who received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday, were as a drop in the immense culture surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Yet see what happened. This small group of convinced faithful were able, in less than three hundred years, to turn the tide of paganism in the Roman Empire. For a long time they were deprived even of the basic civil rights accorded to other citizens. They were often hunted like animals, and the catacombs tell us that they had to hide when celebrating the liturgy and hide the tombs of their revered dead.
But their patience and meekness finally prevailed. Yes, but only because it was supported by unbounded courage, born not of their own strength, but of the power of the Holy Spirit that Christ promised to give those who would witness to His name. This promise is just as true today. All that we need is to trust in the Spirit whom we possess, and never grow weary in giving testimony to the grace we received.
This is what Christ was talking about when He told us not to hide our virtues but allow them to be seen like a city on a mountaintop. We should not be afraid that by such evidence of our good works we shall be seduced by the evil spirit into pride and vainglory. The Good Spirit will protect us by the humiliation that witnessing to a holy life always brings. There will have to be enough death to self and enough ignoring of human respect to keep us from getting proud in our well-doing. We must be willing to pay the price of suffering in doing good, which is another name for being a living martyr, that is, a courageous witness to the life of Christ in the world today.
I would like to close with a prayer for an increase of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, as we come near the close of the twentieth century.
O Lord Jesus Christ, who before ascending into heaven, you promised to send the Holy Spirit to finish your work in the souls of your apostles and disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that He may perfect in my soul the work of your grace and love.Grant me:
the spirit of wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after those which are eternal, the spirit of understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of your divine truth, the spirit of counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the spirit of fortitude that I may bear my cross with you and overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the spirit of knowledge that I may know God and myself and grow perfect in the science of the saints, the spirit of piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, the spirit of fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence toward God and dread in any way to displease Him.Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of your true disciples and animate me in all things with your spirit.
Father Hardon is the Executive Editor of The Catholic Faith magazine.
Source: TheRealPresence.org. Sermon delivered in 1998.
Come down, O Love divine,
seek thou this soul of mine,
and visit it with thine own ardor glowing;
O Comforter, draw near,
within my heart appear,
and kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing.
O let it freely burn,
And so the yearning strong,
by Sarah Phillips, Crosswalk.com Family Editor
This week, we celebrate Pentecost, one of the oldest feast days on the Christian calendar. It traditionally falls on the 50th day of Easter, marking the close of the season - and talk about ending things with a bang.
The spectacular scene described here has understandably captured the fascination of countless artists through the ages. While traveling in Spain, I was blessed to encounter one such painting by El Greco which quickly became a favorite of mine.
The vibrant piece, stretching from floor to ceiling, portrays the Apostles and Jesus' mother Mary with rapturous facial expressions illuminated by the brilliant flames of God's Spirit hovering above their heads. The fiery tongues seem to be the only source of light in the room – anything outside the reach of the Holy Spirit's glow quickly fades from dazzling color into shadowy darkness.
And yet for all the glory of that moment, the moments leading up to the descent of the Holy Spirit were, according to Scripture, filled with fear and uncertainty. The disciples had witnessed a roller coaster of events from the devastation of Jesus' crucifixion to the stunning miracles in the days following Jesus' resurrection to the promise that somehow, Jesus would be with them until the end of the age even after his ascension into heaven. They had experienced doubt, despair, awe, and amazement. Their lives had been turned upside down, and they could only wonder what might happen next.
After a pregnant pause, God came through for this faithful bunch, and the Church was officially born. Pentecost marks the day the apostles received the gifts of the Holy Spirit, allowing them to spread the gospel and baptize all nations.
Pentecost reminds me that even those who witnessed the miracles of Christ firsthand had to face and overcome uncertainty and fear. The disciples weren't perfect, and they weren't always clued into the details of God's bigger plan. Just like the early disciples, we are often called to simply take one day at a time and trust God with whatever the future may bring.
Pentecost also reminds me that while God often works in seemingly ordinary ways, sometimes He bursts through the veil that separates heaven and earth and wows us beyond our wildest hopes and dreams. He doesn't wait for us to be perfect or holy to bless us with His presence, but instead fills our frail selves with His glory and empowers us to do great things.
Intersecting Faith & Life:Do you remember times in your faith when you were truly "on fire" for God? When His presence was tangible and your heart was willing to go wherever He led you? Reflect on those times, and ask God to renew your fire for Him.
1 Corinthians 12: 4-7
John 20: 19-23
Source: Crosswalk.com - The Devotional
A Scriptural Reflection on the Solemnity of Pentecost
by Carl E. Olson
In the Old Testament the feast of Pentecost (from the Greek word for "fiftieth") was one of the three great pilgrimage festivals of Israel, a celebration of the spring harvest that took place fifty days after the offering of first fruits at Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
For Christians, Pentecost marks the fruits and harvest of another sort. It is a celebration of a formative event in the history of the early Church - the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon the newly birthed Church and the first bold proclamation of the Gospel by Peter, the head apostle, among the Jews.
"The Church was made manifest to the world on the day of Pentecost by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Spirit ushers in a new era in the 'dispensation of the mystery' the age of the Church, during which Christ manifests, makes present, and communicates his work of salvation through the liturgy of his Church, ‘until he comes.'" (CCC, par. 1076).
This outpouring of the Holy Spirit and manifestation of the Church are described in today's reading from the Acts of the Apostles. A group of men and women who had been afraid and confused in the dark days following the Crucifixion of Jesus were transformed supernaturally into fearless and passionate evangelists, emboldened by the Helper without whom, Paul writes, "No one can say, 'Jesus is Lord.'" (1 Cor. 12:3).
United together in anticipation of the gift promised by the Lord, the apostles and disciples experienced a theophany, or visitation by God. The loud noise and fire is similar to what the Israelites experienced at Mount Sinai (Ex. 19:16-18), while the sensation of strong, rushing wind is like preceding God's visit to Elijah on the same mountain (1 Kgs. 19:11-12). Fire was a common element in Old Testament theophanies, such as the pillar of fire that led the Israelites through the desert (Ex. 13:21-22). Particularly striking is the description found in Psalm 29: "The voice of the Lord strikes with fiery flame" (v 7).
The outward signs seen and heard in the upper room fulfilled the prophecy of John of the Baptist, who declared that Jesus "will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Lk. 3:16). In this way the people of God are purified, empowered, and prepared to go forth and carry out the work begun by the Son of God.
The Christians first witnessed to Jews "from every nation" who either were visiting Jerusalem for the feast or who had moved there from other countries. This miraculous gift of tongues - being able to speak in a multitude of languages - is an undoing of the ancient curse of the Tower of Babel, when "the Lord confused the speech of all the world" (Gen. 11:1-9) because of man's disobedient attempt to create a perfect society without the aid of God. On Pentecost the one body of the society of the Church was created by the Holy Spirit, uniting Jews, Greeks, slaves, and free persons from every tongue and nation.
It has become common, as I've noted in previous columns, for some Christians to pit the Holy Spirit against "the Church," as though the Third Person of the Trinity will only be hindered by structure and organization. But that is contrary to what Luke and Paul wrote about the early Church, which was not only animated by the Holy Spirit, but organized by Him as well. There is one body, Paul explained to the Christians at Corinth - a rather rowdy and disorganized group of believers - and that body, the Church, has been formed by baptism into Christ through the Holy Spirit.
"What the soul is to the human body," wrote St. Augustine, "the Holy Spirit is to the Body of Christ, which is the Church" (CCC, par. 797). The Church is both charismatic and Catholic, a single body of many parts, united in and through the Holy Spirit. Drink deeply, then, of the one Spirit!
[Source: originally appeared in the May 27, 2007, edition of 'Our Sunday Visitor'.]
This hymn was probably written by Rabanus Maurus (856), Archbishop of Mainz, and has been widely used from the end of the tenth century on. In addition to its place in the Pentecost liturgy, the Veni Creator has also been assigned as the official opening prayer for Church councils and synods. It is recited and sung by the Catholic faithful all over the world at the start of important undertakings, such as the beginning of a school year, at conventions, missions, retreats, and on many similar occasions. It is breathtakingly beautiful!!
Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blest,
O comforter, to Thee we cry,
Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts are known;
Kindle our sense from above,
Far from us drive the foe we dread,
Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow
Now to the Father and the Son,
Prayer Source: Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs by Francis X. Weiser, S.J., Harcourt, Brace and Company, New York, 1958
by Antiochene Syriac Maronite Church
RITE OF KNEELING ON PENTECOST
This rite is composed of three stations/qawney of the canonical hours of the office with their proper psalms, hymns, hoosoyeh, and readings. The stations are addressed to the Three Divine Persons: the first to the Father; the second to the Son; the third to the Holy Spirit. Each station is concluded by kneeling in honor of each Divine Person: on the left knee (for the Father), on the right knee (for the Son), and on both knees (for the Holy Spirit).
ADORATION OF THE FATHER
The congregation stands with reverence and in prayer, imploring the coming of the grace of the Holy Spirit, while they repent for their sins.
Invitation to Kneel
The celebrant faces the congregation and cries in a loud voice:
"Let us kneel before the Lord on the left knee!"
Deacon: Let us kneel and ask the Lord for His mercy. Bend your knee to the exalted Godhead and receive pardon of your faults from the Holy Spirit. In the likeness of tongues of fire, He was sent to the Upper Room so that you may receive, by His hovering, happiness of life, confidence, and victory.
Meanwhile, the celebrant prays silently, then stands up and cries aloud:
Celebrant: By the power of God, stand up!
Celebrant: This is the day of salvation and consolation. The Father poured forth His gift of tongues, renewed by the Spirit. He divided them among the apostles, that they might call the nations back from error. Rejoicing with the disciples of the Son, we adore and praise Christ, so that we may receive the pardon of our faults and glorify Him, now and forever.
ADORATION OF THE SON
The celebrant faces the congregation and cries in a loud voice:
"Let us kneel before the Lord on the right knee!"
Deacon: Let us kneel and ask the Lord for His mercy. With the angels who worship Him in fear, we bend our knee and adore the Father of truth; for He is our maker and Lord. Before Him, all knees bend, and to Him, all tongues give praise. By Him, all nations live.
Come, let us worship the true Son, sent by the Father of Light. He knelt on our behalf, offered prayer for our sake, and raised us up from our fall from grace. He showed His mercy to us and forgave us. Let us worship the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, and bend our knee before Him. On this day, He was sent from the mysterious depths of the Father and came to us. By His hovering over us, He took away our sins and clothed us with glorious victory.
Meanwhile, the celebrant prays silently, then stands up and cries aloud:
Celebrant: By the power of God, stand up!
Celebrant: This is the day when heaven and earth, angels and seraphim, exult with the apostles; for they received the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete. On this day, the saving unction taken away from Adam our father, because of his disobedience, was restored to us. With it, the disciples were anointed, the nations were granted forgiveness, and all races were allotted salvation. We glorify and praise You, O Christ, Your Father, and Your Holy Spirit, now and forever.
ADORATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The celebrant faces the congregation and cries in a loud voice:
"Let us kneel before the Lord on both knees!"
Deacon: Let us kneel and ask the Lord for His mercy. Bow your heads, O mortals, and worship God, the Holy Spirit. He speaks through the prophets; to visionaries. He whispers the secrets of hidden things; and to seers, He reveals the future. Then in the likeness of tongues of fire, He descended upon the blessed disciples. To Him are due glory and thanksgiving, now and forever.
Meanwhile, the celebrant prays silently, then stands up and cries aloud:
Celebrant: By the power of God, stand up from the earth!
Celebrant: Lift up Your heads and sign yourselves with the cross of light. Place in your souls the assistance and salvation that comes from the Holy Spirit, whom we worship in true faith with the Father and the Son, now and forever.
The concept of Trinity is very hard to understand; but it is a cornerstone of Christian Faith. Malankara World has an infocenter specifically devoted to Trinity. You can find it here:
You can also learn more
about Pentecost, Holy Spirit and the Birthday of the Church in our
Malankara World Journal Special on Pentecost - 2012:
by Dr. Shila Mathew, MD., Food and Living Editor, Malankara World
This is a delicious moist cake, inexpensive and easy to make. It is served with
a strawberry frosting.
2/3 cup milk
Scald and allow to cool two-thirds of a cup of milk. Sift sugar, flour and
baking powder together three times. Add scalded milk gradually, beating
constantly. Add to egg whites cream of tartar, salt, and vanilla, and beat 1
-1/2 to 2 minutes, or until the egg whites refuse to slip when the bowl is
Fold into floured mixture. Bake in an ungreased seven-inch tube pan in a
moderate oven (350° F. or 175 deg C) for forty-five minutes or until the cake is golden brown
and firm to the touch. Invert the cake on a rack until cool.
Meanwhile, hull and clean 15 large strawberries. Crush 8 with a fork, and
sweeten to suit. Make a frosting of 1-1/2 cups of confectionery sugar, 2
tablespoons of soft butter or margarine, and 1-1/2 tablespoons approximately of
crushed strawberries in juice. Put the butter and sugar into a bowl, add crushed
berries and juice, beating well with a fork. Add only enough to make a mixture
of consistency to spread easily. Frost the cake and top with seven whole
strawberries as a reminder of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
2/3 cup milk
Scald and allow to cool two-thirds of a cup of milk. Sift sugar, flour and baking powder together three times. Add scalded milk gradually, beating constantly. Add to egg whites cream of tartar, salt, and vanilla, and beat 1 -1/2 to 2 minutes, or until the egg whites refuse to slip when the bowl is tipped.
Fold into floured mixture. Bake in an ungreased seven-inch tube pan in a moderate oven (350° F. or 175 deg C) for forty-five minutes or until the cake is golden brown and firm to the touch. Invert the cake on a rack until cool.
Meanwhile, hull and clean 15 large strawberries. Crush 8 with a fork, and sweeten to suit. Make a frosting of 1-1/2 cups of confectionery sugar, 2 tablespoons of soft butter or margarine, and 1-1/2 tablespoons approximately of crushed strawberries in juice. Put the butter and sugar into a bowl, add crushed berries and juice, beating well with a fork. Add only enough to make a mixture of consistency to spread easily. Frost the cake and top with seven whole strawberries as a reminder of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.Recipe Source: Family Customs: Easter to Pentecost by Helen McLoughlin, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1956
by Greg Laurie
My granddaughter Stella loves to pick flowers. She will come to me and, with a smile of her beautiful face, say, "These are for you, Papa!" It always warms my heart.
There is a story in the Bible of a woman named Mary who understood what Jesus meant when He said He was going to die. Though it somehow did not seem to penetrate the minds of His own hand-picked disciples who had spent their every waking hour with Him for three years, Mary understood.
One night, Jesus and His friends were gathered at the house of Simon in Bethany. She listened as the Lord quietly spoke to the audience gathered. But with intuition inherent in women, she saw and heard something else. She saw the lines etching His face, and read aright the problems reflected in His eyes. An inner sense told her that the disciples were wrong in expecting a kingdom. The Master meant what He had said, and said what He meant: He was literally going to Jerusalem to be crucified.
She could not grasp something so terrible, but accepted it because He said it. She had to do something. She would not wait to give some floral tribute at His funeral. She would bring her flowers now! She would give the very best she possibly could!
So Mary took some very expensive perfume that was probably a family heirloom and poured it on the head of Jesus. Some were angry at her and criticized her for such a waste, as the street value of such a perfume was around $25,000. But in Mary's mind, nothing was too good for Jesus, and she wanted to show her love to Him.
Jesus was impressed and even commended her for it. He said "Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her" (Matthew 26:13). Nothing is ever wasted if it is given with a right heart for God's glory.
That's a good thing to remember about people you love - people who have impacted you as a Christian. Don't wait until their funeral to say it. Say it now.
Go to them, or write them a letter or an e-mail or even a text and tell them what they mean to you - your husband, wife, child, friend, a spiritual leader - because you never know when you will have your last conversation with them.
So bring your flowers now, not later.
Source: Harvest Devotional. Copyright ©2013 by Harvest Ministries. All Rights Reserved.
by Linda McLean
Irene was already well known amongst her family and friends for her amazing home baked bread. Cousin Orville in particular constantly prodded her, "Auntie Irene, you need to enter your bread into the town fair! I know you'll win!" Orville was right. Once Irene made the decision to enter her bread into the town fair, it ended up a winner almost every year. And much to Orville's joy, Auntie Irene always gave him the winning loaf!
Orville and the rest of the family, including Irene's daughter, were so proud of her. Watching her mom take such pride in baking the bread and entering it into the fair year after year, she vowed to follow in her footsteps one day. She wanted to learn to make bread the same way and someday, when she had children of her own, share that special experience with them.
Someday, thought Irene's daughter, she would find the time to do this. In the meantime life kept her pretty busy. She was young, ambitious, working on building her career, raising a family and juggling a social life. All the while, she believed in her heart that someday she would have time to go back and learn from her mom how to make the award winning bread, beloved by the whole community.
She thought that when she was home with her newborn baby it would be the perfect opportunity to relax and spend time with her mom. Mother and daughter could also share in the experience of the new baby. After all, her mom had raised six kids, she certainly could pick up some great child rearing tips! She was excited and looked forward to the wonderful cherished moments they would share together. But those moments she thought she would have with her mom, never came.
When the ambulance brought her mom to the hospital, Irene's daughter kept thinking - this can't be real, mom will be released and will hold her new baby granddaughter. Everything will be okay; she will get better. This was not to be the case. The cancer had returned and, nine days later, Irene passed away. Her daughter was devastated.
In the blink of an eye, "someday" had faded away.
The story you've just read is my story. I am Irene's daughter Linda. It is me who stood in that hospital holding my baby girl Brittany in my arms, feeling sheer disbelief that my Mom would never hold my daughter in her arms or buy her favorite cereal like she had for all her other grandchildren. My world had been turned upside down; only 26 days earlier our entire family had celebrated the birth of my wonderful first-born and we were all filled with such joy. Now, we faced the reality that the Mom, the grandmother, the Auntie Irene to so many, had passed.
In life, with all its joys and sadness we learn and then we take those lessons into our future. On the day my beloved mom passed, I promised myself that my family would always come first.
Today, all these years later, I am proud to say that I am very purposeful in prioritizing activities in my life so that meeting the needs of my family comes FIRST!
Recently when my daughter Paige moved to San Diego, I was incredibly busy. And on top of that, I told myself she's a big girl now and can move on her own without mom's help. But after sitting back and thinking about this move, I quickly realized it would make a positive difference for Paige if I were there to support her in getting settled. The time spent helping her get organized (and of course there was some shopping to be done, which my husband says I'm an expert at!) was worth every ounce of energy!
Sure we're all busy and we certainly can't be everywhere at all times. But it's a matter of identifying the times we can be there, to spend purposeful time with our family and loved ones. The way in which we organize our time and schedule our priorities, will ultimately determine how we live our lives. What decision can you make right now to make your "SOMEDAY" happen today?
About Linda McLean
Linda McLean is an internationally respected, Certified Business and Life Coach, Speaker, CEO and Founder of McLean International, and the author of the #1 International bestselling book 'Next Level Living – Today's Guide for Tomorrow's Abundant Life, My Gratitude Journal and Mind, Millions & Memories'. She offers the tools and knowledge gained from over 25 years of business, leadership and team development coaching/consulting to help individuals and businesses reach their next level of success in all areas of life. Visit her newly revitalized website: www.McleanInternational.com
It has been more than 24 days since the abduction of the two Metropolitan Archbishops of Aleppo, Mor Gregorios Yuhanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, and Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch on April 22, 2013. They were abducted during a humanitarian mission to seek the release of priests abducted earlier. Please continue to pray for the immediate release of the bishops and other clergy abducted in Syria and for the persecuted Christians all over the world.
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