Peace of Christ! Happy Feast of Pentecost weekend (the Birthday of the Catholic Christian Church)!! I am writing to you today to ask for a favor. I would ask right now that you check out following 6 minute YouTube video:
And if you like it (which I'm sure you will), send it right away to as many of your email contacts as you can, post it on Facebook, and all other social media. It is a video that is intended to introduce the world to young religious sisters. More to follow on this. Please, don't delay, email, Tweet, and Facebook, now! Also, please "Like" Imagine Sisters Movement on Facebook right away and Follow it on Twitter. It will daily give you updates and inspirational quotes. Thank you for your help!
I am back in Broken Arrow for a little family visit. I will be going to St. Louis this summer to do hospital chaplaincy (CPE). I have had a TREMENDOUS first year as a vowed Jesuit. I wouldn't take it back for anything (and you can remind me I said that someday during the "tough times"--not that there haven't been bumps in the road thus far :).
As mentioned, the Catholic Christian Church is celebrating her birthday this weekend, the Feast of Pentecost when the Church received the Holy Spirit in grace and power. It is worth noting that Mary (Mother of the Apostles) was present in the room when they all received the Holy Spirit. Then the first Pope, St. Peter, went out into the streets of Jerusalem and preached Jesus Christ Risen from the dead. 3,000 joined the Church that day alone! However, there were detractors, some even saying that the Apostles seemed drunk on new wine.
There are still detractors, and unfortunately, the Church's members sometimes do give scandal. The great theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar (a mentor of Pope Benedict) borrowed from the early Christian thinkers in calling the Church a "casta meretrix," a "chaste whore." No matter what the media says (and no matter how many sins her members commit), the Catholic Church trusts that SHE is Christ's Bride, the universal sacrament of God's salvation for the world. The Catholic Church, like anyone of us, is not called because she is worthy, she is worthy because she is called. The world NEEDS to see, to hear, to imagine how EXTRAVAGANT is the GRACE of God given in the Catholic Church, born on Pentecost.
So, how might we celebrate this Pentecost?
As you know, I am passionate about the ongoing renaissance of women's religious life (nuns and sisters). Just this weekend in one convent in Ann Arbor, 170 young women are going on a discernment retreat (they have these 3 times a year). Close to 20 actually enter this convent every year. Average ago? 21!!!! Oprah has featured them on two episodes and LOVES them. Young sisters are one of the greatest evidence of God in the modern world. They inspire everyone who sees and meets them.
Let us pray this Pentecost that the Holy Spirit come down on the whole Church, on the whole world, and especially on women called to this breathtaking vocation to be Jesus' consecrated Bride and the spiritual mother to countless souls. The world NEEDS sisters NOW--they are pretty much the most joyful and influential people I have ever met or know exist. Nobody knows the name of the Archbishop of Calcutta (important as he is, in his role as teacher and administrator of his diocese), but the whole world will never forget just one sister who picked up and loved 30,000 dying "untouchable" people off the streets. A reporter once watched as Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta tended to a man being eaten away alive by various parasites, "Mother, I wouldn't do that for a million dollars" You know what she told him? "I wouldn't either. But I'll do it for Christ!" Amen.
But beware, the evil spirit hates the Church (because he hates God and His Son, to whom the Church belongs), so he hates and tries to destroy all priests, sisters, ministers, believers, and people of goodwill. We can see the wreckage is all around us. We ought not be surprised that such good things: peace, justice, marriage, family, life, freedom, the priesthood, etc. are under serious attack by certain forces who consistently spread deceit and do evil. Jesus himself warned us about the one He called "the father of lies from the beginning" but promised us the Spirit. Jesus made the bold claim about Himself: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him." And He told us, as Blessed John Paul always echoed: "Be not afraid!" because the battle has ALREADY been won by Christ.
Not to sound too much like a televangelist, but we just have to live that victory as beloved sons and daughters of God, ransomed, healed, restored, and forgiven by the Blood of Christ. So, I will close with St. Paul's words to the Church at Ephesus, that it may help us pray and remain strong in faith, hope, love, and the commitment to justice.
Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all (the) flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy onesand also for me, that speech may be given me to open my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains, so that I may have the courage to speak as I must.
Pray for me, and I will pray for you. Please do share this video with EVERYONE this weekend. It is my dream and hope that thousands of Christians this Pentecost will see through these sisters, these icons of Mary, that the Catholic Church is "ever ancient, ever new." She may be 2,000 years old, but no matter what her enemies say or do, she is looking pretty good :)
In Jesus, through Mary,