Now is the time for us to rejoice in the gift of our faith. Why? Because the Holy Spirit is with us. This Pentecost we celebrate the birthday of the Church and the gifts that come along with the indwelling of God's Spirit. Too often, we do not appreciate or even know that those gifts are there. Maybe we don't utilize them or don't know how to offer them. It is very simple, yet very challenging to have a "life in the Spirit." Our postmodern culture is suspicious of anything supernatural. Furthermore, we all struggle with the desire to do things our own way. We struggle with pride.
In order to live a life in the Spirit, I must first recognize God's Lordship in my life. I must submit myself to God's plan and ask for the strength to let go of any of my own selfish desires. Then, I simply ask God to help me to be open to the prompting of the Spirit. What gifts might the Spirit offer? Well, there's the ones mentioned in 1 Cor. 12:8-11, 1 Pt. 4:11, Eph. 4, Rom. 12, and Is. 11:1-5. But, this list is not intended to be exhaustive. For each person, there is a particular gift. The question is, what is yours, and are you offering it to build up the community? If you sense that you are embarrassed to offer your gift, take some more time and ask God to give you the courage you need. Regarding the various ministries in your Church, spend some time discerning how God is calling you to offer your gifts to your community. Then, make yourself known to whomever is responsible for the ministry related to your gifts. If your Church doesn't have such a ministry, maybe you are the one being called to start it and lead it. Don't be afraid and don't assume that it needs to be huge. Maybe it would involve just a few people. Maybe it needs more time to germinate. Maybe it needs to be brought to your pastor or Pastoral Council for advisement. Ultimately, God will bless you if you listen and just try to be obedient to the Spirit's prompting's.
TWiCC is Here!
The Starquest Podcast Network (a.k.a. SQPN) produced by Fr. RoderickVonhögen is now offering a new podcast entitled "This Week in the Catholic Church," or " TWICC" for short. I participated in the first recording on Monday via Skype and had a ball doing it. The show is hosted by Fr. Roderick. It includes several other very intelligent and funny people talking about current events and things of interest within the Church. I am excited to see how it will grow and develop. I hope that it will be a source of encouragement for people. Check out www.twicc.com or www.sqpn.com to listen to episode #1. You can also subscribe to it via iTunes by clicking here.
In this first episode we talk about all kinds of things including the largest gathering at the Vatican for Pope Benedict XVI, astronomy and faith, the significance of the date 6/6/06, a Jesuit surprise, the latest in the TV show LOST, a review of the Omen movie, and much more. Please check it out and give us your feedback. We're looking for topics that may interest you.
Summertime and Church
Finally, as summer approaches, all of us find opportunities to go on vacation. I just recently returned from four days away with friends. There's nothing better than to retreat and recharge. I hope that you and your family find the needed time to enjoy the coming days of summer.
Often our vacations take us to places far away from home. They give us opportunities to visit other parishes and connect with the universality that is present in the Church. I always appreciate my own parish and miss my community after being away and visiting other Churches. Sometimes, however, people simply forget to go to Church and participate in the Eucharist while on vacation. Sometimes our plans preclude this as a possibility while other times they are mutually exclusive due to large distances. Whatever your situation may be, I hope that you will do your best to also plan for your faith as well as playtime while on vacation.
It is common for Churches to also struggle financially during this time as families sometimes also take a vacation from the financial support they typically give to their homes of worship. I can testify that our bills still come in and still have to be paid. So, I want to encourage all of us not to forget the commitments we have all made, particularly to St. Anthony's. Here at our parish, we are particularly sensitive to this ebb and flow and want to find ways to even out the valleys that cause stress in the business side of things. A simple way to help in this matter is to either pay forward the amount your family committed to make before leaving on vacation or make a special effort to make up any donations that weren't made while they were away. Every effort helps. When talking to parishioners who report such behaviors, I am truly humbled and thankful for their faithfulness. No matter what situation you find yourself in during this summer, please pray for your community of faith. Prayer matters and so do you.
Now is also the season for graduations of all kinds. It is a time of goodbye's to old friends. It is also a time of stress and excitement for those moving on. It is a time of new beginnings. My best wishes for all of you who are in any way connected to someone graduating at this time. May this time of change be an opportunity for God's amazing grace grow and strengthen in you.
Finally, enjoy the gifts that summertime offers you. Spend some time to slow down and re-create with God at your side. Know that God's grace is abundant no matter where you are. May God bless you and give you safe travels.
Fr. William Holtzinger