Pentecost Isn’t Just One Day
“You men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven?”
That is one of the greatest lines in Scripture, it really reads, “What are you standing around for, get your act together and do something.” The Apostles had their mission. Did Christ not say:
“Go, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.”
It took Pentecost and the fire of the Spirit to jump start the Apostles on their mission to all nations and through the centuries. The very same teachings of Jesus Christ have been handed down to us from them. We have received the sacraments and graces to give us spiritual strength. We have been confirmed. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” the Bishop prays.
And where is the fire in the belly consuming our lives in Christian service and prayer? Where is the life of Christ in us these days?
I recall, in rattling off the answers to catechism questions in the olden days, mention of the sin of distraction. I cannot remember what commandment it was under nor the definition, but I know it exists. Everywhere. And it makes beingCatholic nothing more than the special Sunday clothes taken out once a week to wear for church … and then put away.
Our part of the divine mission is to know, love, and serve God. You cannot love Him unless you know him, learn about Him. Then serving Him through His creatures is the fruit of that love, a love so deep it made the martyrs willing to die for it. And prayer is the first step in the whole process.
Yes, prayer – after I check the news on the phone, my text messages, Amazon online about that overdue order, and on and on and on. I marvel at the distractions tearing at our minds, even in this shelter-in-place-Covid-19 pandemic during which there should be more free time, there is so much less. Have to check the latest state death toll, the latest scientific fable, the Trump bashing, the governor’s new orders – can we attend church yet? – everyone’s opinions on everything except checking the connection to God Almighty.
Here at home, I started out with my daily prayer list and decided to add the Divine Mercy chaplet because we surely need mercy nowadays and not just because of Covid. Then after the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, added the Rosary.
And how long did that last? How long does that last for any of us, this chain of connection to God, these meditations which draw us in close enough to Him to fear the change it will require in our lives, the change that requires wearing that Sunday best in season and out of season?
So much time is wasted in physical distraction to be sure, but mental distraction is the worst because the mind can only focus on one thing at a time. Either I am saying my Rosary or I am not. I am praying for the poor souls, or I am not. I am consumed by issues of the world – or worse, the self – or not. Female priesthood consumed the thoughts of many not so long ago. Today, gender issues – am I a he or she? Transgender, homosexuality – the angst of it all! And now the calling for justice while condoning looting and burning in cities: bottom line, all concerns the self, being absorbed in self. But we are to forget self in Christ and get on with His mission to the world.
How many unwed mothers do not receive a helping hand for lack of volunteers at crisis pregnancy centers? How many people are destitute and starving because no on has free time to do the dreary work in a soup kitchen or clothing shelf, in cleaning homeless shelters or teaching job skills? How many of the sick or elderly or families of handicapped children feel devastatingly alone because no one takes the time to utter a word of encouragement to them? How many people burned out of their livelihoods in riots this past weekend now need support for their families?
Even in this time of stuck-at-home, our focus needs to be on what we can do for others even if we cannot physically serve them. If all we can do is serve them through prayer, then we must take the time to pray, real prayer, from the heart, not just a word or two while switching TV channels.
And it is hard to do. Hard to focus so I can pray for the elderly folks in the nearby assisted living residence who came for the weekly Communion service at which my daughter volunteered as a greeter and who are now locked in place for their safety; the people who are dying; my 10-year-old grandson kept at home in isolation because he needs a kidney transplant, not a coronavirus; various relatives who have fallen from the Faith.
Who or what is on your list?
The “I” and its distractions need to get out of the way so the focus is on the divine mission. It’s a matter of discipline and commitment and it is just plain hard … to pray.
My granddaughter finally got a Confirmation date later this month. We went to a retreat Mass awhile ago and I wonder what she really learned about anything in these last two years of preparation. She and I have to show up an hour before the Mass for a briefing on what to do, hand washing, masking, etc. So as I give her a ride to church, I have 15 minutes to tell her Confirmation is not a big whoosh, it isn’t falling on the floor in the Spirit or a sudden flood of cozy grace. It is a way of life, a way of prayer, an inclination in the soul that tries to lead us where the “I” doesn’t want to go. That path begins with prayer, making Pentecost stay with us not just for one day but tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
This article, Pentecost Isn’t Just One Day is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
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