Dear Friends in Christ,
This weekend, we conclude our wonderful celebration of Easter. Sort of. The Easter Season is 50 days long extending from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday. After the last Mass of Pentecost, the Paschal Candle will be moved by the baptismal/holy water font in the narthex. The word “pentekoste” in Greek means “fiftieth”. Pentecost was originally a Jewish harvest festival marking a week of weeks, plus a day from the celebration of Passover (Pascha). It was also known as the ‘Feast of Weeks’ (Shavuot). It was on the Feast of Pentecost, ten days after Jesus had ascended into heaven, that the apostles and the Blessed Mother gathered in the Upper Room in Jerusalem, where Jesus had celebrated the Last Supper, that they received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2).
I mentioned that Pentecost is only “sort of ” the conclusion of Easter because, we continue to celebrate Easter every week. St. Augustine of Hippo famously said, “We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song!” For Catholics, every Sunday is “a little Easter”. In fact, every Mass is a celebration of the life, death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ! When we offer Mass, Jesus, our Risen Lord, is present to us in Word and Sacrament. He is the Word Made Flesh, the Incarnate Word of God and Jesus is present to us in His perfect offering of Himself to God the Father in reparation for our sins. Jesus is sacramentally present to us and with us in “the Breaking of the Bread” (Acts 2). In the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, Jesus makes Himself truly, really and sacramentally present to us. This, we call the “real presence”. Jesus is tru-ly present to us body and blood, soul and divinity, whole and undivided, under the appearances of bread and wine. We believe that at Mass, the bread and wine change and truly become his actual body and blood. We do NOT believe that the consecrated elements are mere symbols of His presence. Theologically speaking, we believe that the substance of the bread and wine has changed but the accidents (appearance) remain the same. We call this change of substance “transubstantiation.”
In this, we accept and believe the words of Jesus when he tells us that “His flesh is real food and his blood is real drink” (Jn 6). We do this as He instructed us at the Last Supper when He told us to ‘Take and eat … this is my body… and take and drink… this is the chalice of my blood” and “Do this in memory of me.” We believe and live our discipleship because of the nourishment of the Holy Eucharist and the power of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Over the last two weeks, we had 220 young children receiving Jesus for the first time in Holy Communion.Today, we also have 28 adults receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation and another 100 youth will be Confirmed in a few weeks.
The Sacrament of Confirmation is one of the three Sacraments of Christian Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist). Confirmation is necessary for the completion of the baptismal graces. So it is important for every Catholic to receive this sacrament. In Confirmation, we are more perfectly conformed to Christ by the strength of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, who first came to the Church at Pentecost. In Confirmation, we receive a spiritual seal, an indelible mark on our soul. We are strengthened with the outpouring of gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, right judgement (counsel) courage (fortitude), knowledge, reverence (piety) and fear of the Lord (wonder and awe). These spiritual gifts enlighten, strengthen, animate and aid us to be Christ’s witnesses to the world. With the seal of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we become “Soldiers of Christ” willing to share in the hardships of Jesus as St. Paul admonished St. Timothy (2 Tm 2). As soldiers of Christ, we are equipped by the Holy Spirit to fight against evil and to fight for the good.
In Pace Christi,