Pentecost Sunday

May 31, 2020

May 31, 2020

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May 31, 2020

Pentecost Sunday

C. Vanessa

White

Spirit of the Living God, Fall Fresh on Me

Spirit of the Living God, Fall Fresh on Me

Melt Me, Mold Me, Fill Me, Use Me.

Spirit of the Living God, Fall Fresh on Me.

In the African American religious experience, there are many spiritual songs and hymns that attest to the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the community.  Such songs as Spirit of the Living God, Every Time I Feel the Spirit, I’m Gonna Move When the Spirit Say Move and There’s a Sweet Spirit describes the power and presence of the Holy Spirit to move and animate a community of faith as well as individual persons.  

I am reminded of these songs as I read and pray with the Acts of the Apostles and in particular the Pentecost event described in Acts 2.  You know, the Holy Spirit is so evident and present in the Acts of the Apostles that it could even be called the Gospel of the Holy Spirit, and I believe many scholars have done just that.  

The Holy Spirit as described in the Acts of the Apostles is a living Spirit that moves the community from fear to fearlessness, from faltering to faith, from powerlessness to passionate power.  The Spirit transformed individuals into an inclusive community that then became a missionary church. In many Christian churches today, it is the custom for members of the congregation to wear red to celebrate Pentecost event, which, as the author whom we call Luke describes as tongues of fire. Even today many will still wear our red, in solidarity with one another during this time of physical and social distancing.  We will be reminded that the Pentecost event  was experienced by people of many races and ethnicities during difficult times.    

Every Time I Feel the Spirit Moving In My Heart I Shall Pray

Every time I feel the Spirit Moving in My Heart I Shall Pray

As people of faith living during a time of the pandemic, we are called to pray and to listen to the Holy Spirit which will move us to the right action.  We have seen how social media has been used to bring communities together in prayer, in song, to teach and preach, through spiritual practices – such as global rosaries, novenas and contemplative practices and virtual retreats.  We have already seen during this time, how communities and individuals have responded to the needs of the poor, the recently unemployed, the sick and our elders, our brothers and sisters. We have now begun to slow down and maybe even listen to the Spirit and respond to the needs of our communities. We are reminded in our second reading today in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians that we are all one body and through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are one and that our gifts are to be used for one another.

I’m Gonna Move when the Spirit Say Move

I’m Gonna Move when the Spirit Say Move

When the Spirit Say move, I’m Gonna Move Oh Lord

I’m Gonna Move when the Spirit Say Move.

In today's Gospel Jesus said, as my Father sent me, now I send you and he breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit”.  This Spirit moved them to let go of their fear and to be persons of mission.

In these days, we are so in need of that Spirit of fearlessness.  Many are afraid of what is to come.  As Jesus has reminded us again and again, do not worry, I am with you.  We cannot predict the future, but we can allow ourselves to be open to receiving that Sweet Holy Spirit that will give us what we need in the days ahead.  

St. Irenaeus of Lyons, one of the first theologians of the Christian Church states that the Spirit came down with power to open the gates of life to all the nations and to make known to them the new covenant. He further writes that in baptism we have become one in body and through the Holy Spirit, we become one in soul.  These are powerful and transformative words.  Do we truly believe that we are of one body and through the power of the Holy Spirit, one soul?  How are we preparing to receive the Holy Spirit Today?

Spirit of the Living God Fall fresh on Me

Spirit of the Living God Fall fresh on Me

Melt Me, Mold Me, Fill Me, Use Me.

Spirit of the Living God, Fall Fresh on Me.

This song, Spirit of the Living God, ends with the invocation to ask the Spirit to melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.  As people of faith, we must be open to trusting the Holy Spirit to shape us, fill us, and use us.  Like those first disciples in the Upper Room, may we be open to the coming of the Holy Spirit during this time of pandemic to use us and transform us for the good of all.

Finally on this Pentecost, I leave you with the words of Servant of God, Sr. Thea Bowman.

If you believe that the Spirit that lived in Jesus, that the spirit that lived in the disciples, that the spirit that moved in the early church is the same spirit you receive in your baptism and confirmation, say AMEN.

If you believe that you, like Jesus are called by the spirit to share the spirit in the world, to call forth the giftedness of God’s people, say Amen.

And if you believe that the spirit of God is able to transform the water of your reality into purist wine, if you believe there is nothing God can’t do, say AMEN, AMEN, AMEN.

Happy Pentecost

First Reading

Acts 2:1-11

PSALM

Ps 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34

Second Reading

1 Cor 12:3B-7, 12-13

GOSPEL

Jn 20:19-23
Read texts at usccb.org

C. Vanessa White

Dr. C. Vanessa White is Associate Professor of Spirituality and Ministry  as well as the Director of the Certificates in Pastoral Studies and Black Theology and Ministry at Catholic Theological Union.  She received her Doctor of Ministry and Master of Theological Studies degrees from Catholic Theological Union, with additional post-graduate work at Xavier University of Louisiana and Loyola University Chicago.  She is also a member of the faculty for Xavier University’s Summer Institute for Black Catholic Studies in New Orleans where she teaches in both the Master’s degree and Continuing Education and Enrichment Program.  

Dr. White is co-editor of the book (with Dr. Cecilia Moore and Fr. Paul Marshall, SM), Songs of the Heart and Meditations of the Soul – A book of prayers published by St. Anthony Messenger Press, and  contributing author for the books  Amoris Laetitia: A New Momentum for Moral Formation and Pastoral Practice published by Paulist Press  and Liturgy and Justice published by Liturgical Press.  She has published articles and essays in the National Religious Vocation Conference journal – Horizons: Journal for the College Theology Society,  New Theology Review, Daily Theology, The Bible Today, America and U.S. Catholic Magazine. She was asked by CNN News to contribute to their “Black in America” series with an op - piece that can be found online at cnn.org entitled “Authentically Black and Truly Catholic”.   She is regular contributor to Give Us This Day – daily prayer journal published by Liturgical Press.

She is Past Convener of the Black Catholic Theological Symposium, a theological association of Black Catholic theologians and scholars as well as a member of the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality. A Secular Franciscan (over 30 years), Dr. White works with Bishop Joseph N. Perry (postulator for the cause) promoting the cause of Fr. Augustus Tolton and in coordinating annual pilgrimages to the birthplace, ministerial site and burial site of Fr. Augustus Tolton. She serves as an advisor consultant for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service.  The subcommittee assists the US bishops in reviewing and approving certification standards and procedures to be used by arch/dioceses and national organizations in the certification of specialized ecclesial ministers.

In 2018, she received the F.  Sadlier Dinger award which recognizes leadership in catechetical education at the annual convention of the the National Conference of Catechetical Leadership (NCCL).  as well as received  the Juan Diego Award for Distinguished Service in the Church from the National Association of Lay Ministry (NALM)  in 2015.

Dr. White  is an experienced workshop presenter, retreat facilitator, spiritual director and teacher who lectures nationally on Black Spiritual History, Christian spirituality, discernment,  health, women’s spirituality, diversity/intercultural dialogue, leadership development, spiritual and ministry formation, lay ministry and adult faith formation, leadership, youth and young adult ministry, Black Presence in the Bible as well as issues pertinent to the spiritual and pastoral life of African Americans.

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