8th Sunday of Easter – Pentecost & Saint Rita of Cascia

Pentecost Sunday

Caution: Spirit at Work

If Pentecost celebrates the gifts of the Spirit, it can tempt us to separate the Spirit from the Father and Jesus. Sometimes we think of the Father as the God of the Old Testament, Jesus as the center of New Testament, and the Spirit as God of the present age, almost as if the Father and Jesus were enjoying their retirement. Actually, all three persons share one God-life. Instead of three gods debating the fate of the universe, we have one God who is over all and in all.

The Spirit has been active in all ages. The prophets were empowered by the Spirit to proclaim God’s word to Israel. Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit led Jesus into the desert at the beginning of his ministry. (If you search the word “spirit” in the four gospels, it appears 75 times.) Jesus was filled with the Spirit as he preached and worked miracles. Then at Pentecost the disciples were filled with the Spirit.

So what about Pentecost? It is really about using our gifts and sharing the good news. The Spirit gives us the power, courage, and energy to do this. The Spirit’s gifts are meant to be shared. The prophets could not help proclaim God’s message. Jesus shared all he knew with his disciples. The disciples went out to the world to spread the news of Jesus’ death and resurrection. So, we, too, are given gifts to be shared.

The greatest gift we have been given is the news of our salvation. This feast reminds us to share that with others. We may do that by example, as when we worship together, forgive others, give to the poor or help someone in need. We can also share that news by teaching our children about God and his love for them, teaching them to pray, or sharing our faith with other adults. As we come to realize how much God has done for us and how close he is to us, we will want to share that with others. Obviously, we can’t make everyone believe in Jesus. But how sad would it be if someone we know was looking for the truth and we neglected to offer it?     -Tom Schmidt, Diocesan Publications

SAINT RITA OF CASCIA (1381-1457)May 22

If you’re ever in Philadelphia on May 22, forget parking anywhere near Saint Rita’s shrine. Cars line streets and fill medians as throngs pack a candlelight vigil and six Masses, honoring this patroness of lost causes, hopeless situations, and—as her statue in countless churches built by twentieth-century immigrants testifies—difficult marriages, troubled homes, and alienated children. Wise people warn, be careful what you pray for. “Divine Savior,” Rita prayed, “let me suffer like you!” Obedient to parents who refused her wish to become a nun, Rita married a man who returned her devotion with twenty years of abuse. When enemies murdered him, Rita’s two sons swore revenge. Paintings depict her pointing the angry boys toward Christ crucified, whom she begged to restrain them. Within the year, both sons died. Alone now, Rita went to the convent but was refused. The nuns feared violence, since one of them was related to the murderer. Rita arranged peace between the families, made vows, and became much sought after as a counselor and intercessor for forty years on earth—and ever since in heaven.

—Peter Scagnelli, Diocesan Publications