As we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost and the beginnings of our church, I share a short collection of thoughts that have been on my mind during the Easter season.
1) Now that Pope Benedict XVI is settling into his new role, I have marveled at the continuity of the Petrine ministry in the church. The time from Peter to Benedict XVI has seen 265 individuals occupy the Chair of Peter.
Some had short tenures; some had very long ones. They have served in peaceful times and in times of great turmoil. Some have been regarded as saints. A few did not do themselves proud by their behavior in office.
For all of the ups and downs, there has been a continuity that I can ascribe only to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit promised to us by Christ.
Now the church prays for Pope Benedict. We ask God to strengthen and guide him through the years of his tenure.
2) The Easter season always carriers its share of joyful events. I rejoice in every one of them, and delight in the pleasure they bring to participants. But I also love such gatherings because they symbolize and summarize faith, generosity and kind service that people offer all year round. They are wonderful reminders that the Spirit is present in the hearts of the people, inspiring them to imitate the example of selfless service offered by our Lord.
Just in recent days, I have been in the company of several groups: our pastoral musicians, parish office professionals, people from Bishop Sheen Ecumenical Housing, campus ministers, our senior priests, benefactors of our diocese, our permanent deacons, our Women’s Commission and the community of St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry.
In every case I have left such gatherings with a renewed sense of hope about our church and its future. They help me to keep in perspective the problems we face and remind me that the Holy Spirit is always renewing the face of the earth.
3) Another special moment in recent days was a visit to the New York State Correctional Facility at Groveland. I went there for Family Day with the Catholic community. Inmates, their families and those who minister at the facility shared the experience in a relaxed and easy manner.
One of my fondest memories of the day was the presence of Deacon Lynn and Peggy Kershner, Deacon Paul and Barbara Clement, and Deacon Roger Loomis. Their ministry that day made me grateful not only for their regular service but also for the ministry of all of our permanent deacons who minister among people who, unfortunately, can too easily be forgotten.
4) Last, but certainly not least, I want to express my gratitude for the wonderful celebrations of confirmation and first holy Communion that have been the sources of so much peace and joy during the Easter season.
To be with our candidates is a special grace, because I see in them much strength and encouragement for today’s church and a great deal of hope and promise for tomorrow. I am deeply grateful to their parents and sponsors and all who care for them and encourage them to move in life-giving directions. I offer a special note of thanks to their pastors, pastoral administrators and catechists who serve them so lovingly.
I hope that this Easter season has been one of peace and blessings for you. This great feast of Pentecost might be a wonderful occasion to relax for a moment and remember the blessings that are yours.
Peace to all.