Peggy Schoenfuss and Chris Hurtubise
Office of Catholic Formation

Summer is finally here, but not with the lighthearted ease that normally accompanies it – 2020 has proven to be a rather grave year thus far. Who would have predicted that in only five months, we would have already experienced horrendous wildfires in Australia, a global pandemic, massive unemployment, financial distress and riots across the nation? What is the Lord trying to tell us?

Reflecting on these calamities, we have learned at least a few lessons: we have learned not to take the status quo for granted. But even more importantly, we’ve learned that following the Lord will not always be easy or predictable. We have learned to pray with greater urgency for God’s saving peace among the people of this world – starting with ourselves. As trial after trial has come, our faith truly has been put to the test. We call the Lord Jesus the Good Shepherd in times of comfort and ease, and revel in the peace of that bucolic image. But do we seek for and follow his voice in time of trial, fear and uncertainty? Do we acknowledge that he leads us still?

In many ways, too, we have learned that we have a lot for which to be thankful. First and foremost, we are grateful for his presence among us and for his provision. He has proven time and again that he is faithful if we but heed his voice. Second, we are grateful for the opportunity that families have had to slow down and turn toward each other for support. So many have acknowledged that this jolting break from normalcy has been truly providential in getting their families to relearn to be in relationship with each other. Third, we are thankful for the call to continue the church’s mission, even when the normal means and structures of our ministries are deemed impossible or now irrelevant. All that is good and holy has been tested and has grown stronger in these challenging times, but many have allowed the Lord to prune away what was extraneous and they will be stronger and more fruitful because of it.

Growth is hard. Change is hard. Let us all take a deep breath and ask the Lord to breathe his Holy Spirit into us as he did the first disciples all those years ago. Rejuvenate us, Lord Jesus!

Now is a perfect time in our church year to reflect on all that has come to pass. In the Gospel of Pentecost this past weekend, Jesus says, “Shalom”… ‘Peace be with you!’  It is through this message that Jesus then gives the disciples the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. These gifts allow us today too, to go out and reconcile and bring the Lord’s peace to our world that is so desperate for it.

We also celebrate Mary, Mother of the Church, this week. Mary is the model for us in fruitful cooperation with the Holy Spirit. In her radical openness and commitment to the Holy Spirit, she literally brought Jesus into the world. May we too be humble instruments of the life and power of God. Bl. John Baptist Scalabrini reflects, Who can describe with what ecstatic fervor, passionate love, and persevering prayer Mary turned to the divine Paraclete in the Cenacle (the Upper Room), beseeching him to pour himself out in the fullness of his gifts on these first fruits of the faith, as well as on all future believers, and to be their light, their counselor, their guide, and their solace for all ages to come?

Through these holy days, let us turn our prayers to the Holy Spirit imploring Him for strength, peace and love. Let us pray with our patron, St. Augustine, Breathe into me, Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Move in me, Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Attract my heart, Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy. Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy. Protect me, Holy Spirit, that I may always be holy. Amen.