I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God
that you have through the imposition of my hands.
For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice,
but rather of power and love and self-control.
So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord,
nor of me, a prisoner for his sake;
but bear your share of hardship for the gospel
with the strength that comes from God.
2 Timothy 1: 6b-8
Happy Pentecost! What a glorious feast we celebrate this day! Pentecost is a reminder to me of many things: the great blessing we've been given in the Holy Spirit... the fact that the Spirit is active in our lives and in our world... the way God has empowered us to preach, to love, and to serve... and... the fact that in many ways our world is in need of a "push" from the Spirit...
Evidence of the Spirit's actions have been so apparent to me in the past couple of weeks...
Last weekend I witnessed the first profession of vows of two Marianist Brothers. What a beautiful celebration! It was a not only a moving experience and a reminder of my own vowed commitment to the Marianist mission, but it was also a lively celebration of culture. Brandon is Samoan... born in Hawai'i. Ray is Salvadorean. There were elements of both of their cultural heritages brought into the celebration - from Hawai'ian chants, leis, and shirts in "Aloha print" to Spanish music and Ray being blessed by his parents before professing. I had the pleasure of singing with the choir. The music was fun... a little Hawai'ian, a little Spanish... upbeat and happy. Each of the newly professed brothers professed their vows in their language. What a celebration!
The profession of vows is no doubt a movement of the Holy Spirit within the heart of the person professing and within the congregation.
Monday of last week, Labor Day, our sisters celebrated our Foundation Day. May 25, 1816 our foundress, Venerable Adele de Batz de Trenquelleon, set out with a few young women to journey to their new home and to begin their new life together as religious women dedicated to Mary's mission in the world. The foundation of our congregation and its continuation since then is a clear sign of the Spirit's actions. The Marianist sisters are who we are because of the gentle and ever-present guidance of the Spirit.
We celebrated our foundation in Dayton with Mass with our brothers and then a festive meal and afternoon prayer at our house. Then, Monday afternoon... I, too, set out on a journey like Adele...
I arrived in San Antonio late Monday night. Tuesday I spent time settling in, chatting with our sisters and resting. Wednesday morning I began my summer course work at St. Mary's Univ. I've had bits of time here and there to visit with a few people around and to gather with former co-workers from Central Catholic Marianist High School at their post-graduation celebration. But, I've also been reading/studying.
This weekend I am helping out at an archdiocesan discernment retreat called "Life Awareness." It's a collaborative effort between the archdiocesan vocations office and the local vocations directors of the religious communities in the area. The participants are people 18 years old and up who are considering religious life or diocesan priesthood. There are 45 participants on this retreat. The Spirit is in deed active in their lives and moving in them toward a deepening of their relationship with God. That call to a deepening relationship may be a call to religious life/priesthood or it may not. But their presence at the retreat and their prayerful participation is certainly a visible sign of the Spirit's stirring within them. ... The sessions on the retreat and the times of prayer have been really good and thought provoking - even for those of us in religious life!
A surprise blessing from my presence at the retreat has been the opportunity to meet other young religious women and men. It is always such a blessing to meet younger people from other congregations... to share with them, laugh with them, and dream with them.
In addition to these reminders of the Spirit's presence & action, today's feast also calls to mind the missionary aspect of the Spirit's presence. The Spirit was given to each person for the building up of the Church - so that the mission of Jesus might continue in our world. The Spirit animates, guides, strengthens and encourages. We do, however, need to respond. So, Pentecost causes me to ask... How is the Spirit moving within me? To what is the Spirit calling me? To whom is the Spirit moving me to serve & how? Is there anyting within me blocking the action of the Spirit through me? ... And not only do I ask these questions of myself, but I ask them in light of my community, the congregation, and the Church... What is the Spirit asking of us? To what is the Spirit calling us? .... Important questions, no?
May we have the open hearts and minds necessary to truly listen that we might be guided continually by the Spirit that is so generously given.
Blessings to all who read this!