The Season of Advent

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

From the Pastor - Pentecost

A weekly column by Father George Rutler.

T oday all that our Lord had planned by his Incarnation, Death, Resurrection and Ascension is fulfilled when He fills the Church with the Holy Spirit. Life cannot be seen, and it is known only by being lived. Thus, the life of the Church, lived through our own lives, makes Pentecost an ageless presence. We do not look back on the day when the Holy Spirit was given, for that day is an “endless now.” The Church enables us to enter eternity in time, most immediately in the Holy Eucharist, for eternity is not so much "timelessness" – which term we use in time to define what is beyond time – as it is awareness of God. “Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ” (John 17:3).
Last Sunday the largest number of children in the history of our parish made their First Communion with Our Lord. They are very young, but in that moment they became 2,000 years old and, more accurately, they entered heaven on earth. Today, one of our liveliest parishioners, Margaret Bradshaw, celebrates her 106th birthday, with vivid memories of her First Communion nearly a century ago as one of the first beneficiaries of the decision of Pope St. Pius X to extend Communion to children. She gets younger with each Communion.

All this is the measureless gift that Christ gives us by letting us share in the bond of love between Him and His Father. "Pour out your Spirit" we pray on Pentecost, but only because the Holy Spirit has already moved us to want Him. A fourth-century inscription on the gravestone of a Christian in Asia Minor expresses the hope of all who have received the Holy Spirit: “Here sleeps the blessed Chione who has found Jerusalem, for she prayed much.”

Pope Benedict XVI is the ninth pope in the lifetime of Margaret Bradshaw. Remembering his own First Communion in 1936, the Pope recently told a child: “I understood that Jesus had entered my heart, He had actually visited me. And with Jesus, God Himself was with me. And I realized that this is a gift of love that is truly worth more than all the other things that life can give.”

May the Holy Spirit on Pentecost enliven us to pray as John Donne did:
“Bring us, O Lord God, at our last awakening into the house and gate of heaven, to enter into that gate and dwell in that house, where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light; no noise nor silence, but one equal music; no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession; no ends nor beginnings but one equal eternity; in the habitations of thy glory and dominion, world without end. Amen.”

Father George W. Rutler is the pastor of the Church of our Saviour in New York City. His latest book, Cloud of Witnesses: Dead People I Knew When They Were Alive, is available from Crossroads Publishing.

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