|Altarpiece, Church of St. Fleuret, Estaing, France|
Last week this column was about the importance of knowing our Faith accurately so that we can both defend it and share it with others. Today is the Solemnity of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, when the eleven Apostles went into the streets of Jerusalem to proclaim Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection. They had been devastated by His suffering and crucifixion. They lost their courage. Ten of them ran away from the Cross; only St. John remained there with our Lady. These Apostles were also greatly disheartened ten days before Pentecost. That is when Jesus, Who had risen from the dead on Easter Sunday, ascended into heaven. What were they to do without their Master? They must have been greatly unsure, perhaps confused.
It was the fiftieth day after the pasch, that is, the commemoration of the Passover, hence the name Pentecost meaning fifty. It was also called the Jewish Feast of Weeks, the closing of the gathering of the fruits of the harvests. Many Jews from different countries of different languages were in Jerusalem for this solemn festival. The Apostles were still in an upper room with our Lady. She, no doubt, would have been encouraging them not to lose heart and to do what her Son had asked. But, it took the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Holy Trinity, to get them moving. The room was filled and shook with wind; tongues of flame appeared above the eleven Apostles heads. These were sure signs to them of God’s presence. They received the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and, filled with courage, went from the safety of that room to teach what Jesus taught them.
We, too, have been given the Gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, knowledge, understanding, counsel, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord (see Is. 11:2.3). Like the Apostles we are members of the Body of Christ, the Church. We are the arms, legs, hands, feet of Jesus. With authentic knowledge of our faith, let us go out with courage to teach as Jesus taught.
Tomorrow, Memorial Day, let us remember all the deceased men and women who were in the armed services to defend and protect America and our allies. We pray for their souls, for their loved ones. We can never forget their sacrifices. They had the character and that we all hope to have. May they be eternal happiness with our Lord. Let us remember also to pray for all of our soldiers who are serving now throughout the world. St. Michael the Archangel, protect them!