Happy feast of Pentecost! As we celebrate the birthday of the Catholic Church today with the Coming of the Spirit upon the Apostles, the following reflection from my spiritual father and mentor, the late Msgr Thomas Wells, is illuminating and inspiring.
May you know the peace of the risen Christ,
May 18, 1997
Sometimes I find that, if I want to work without interruptions, it is best to do it very early in the morning. And, if I am trying to compose something, I will often find myself staring out of the window waiting for inspiration to strike. In the dark mornings of winter, I have found myself preoccupied on several occasions by the office building across the street, about one-third of which I can see from my desk. I find myself fascinated as, one by one, lights come on in the darkness, until finally, every window reflects the decision of whoever turned on the switch that day.
Faith tells us that in Baptism and Confirmation we are filled with the Holy Spirit, the very life of God Himself. Like the building across the street, that Spirit allows us to become lights of Christ in the darkness of the world. Perhaps my greatest satisfaction as a priest is that of knowing so many people who do so reflect the light of Christ. Just last weekend, for example, two couples, themselves best friends, both of whose weddings I had ten or so years ago, invited me to dinner. I guess I should have told them, but it really did not dawn on me until I was driving home, how inspired I was by the effects of their commitments to marriage, faith, and family, and by the obvious joy that enlivens them. Financially, especially, neither of these couples has an easy time, and in different ways, each has had to struggle in their surrender to the call of faith. But their decisions to live the life of the Spirit is reflected in their love of life! (And, incidentally, how little they would recognize themselves in this “holy talk.”) But, as I say, any priest can name countless numbers of such people who are obvious signs that the Holy Spirit can make us proofs of the gift of faith.
Two thoughts come to me as we celebrate this day of the Holy Spirit: Pentecost. The first is to ask the Spirit to use us so that, because of the way we live our faith, we might be the light of Christ for at least one other person. Secondly, I more and more come to understand why the Lord saved a people, not just a bunch of individuals. We need each other, if only to find encouragement in a world that so often does not believe in the apparent absurdity of the Gospel message. My prayer this Pentecost is that the Spirit will give to each of us, as He has so generously given to me, people whose lived faith in Jesus will inspire us to deeper faith in our own lives.