I sincerely hope you enjoyed and were inspired by the Holy Father’s visit to the United States. I was privileged, as you know, to spend considerable time with him and my fellow bishops in both Washington, D.C., and in New York City. I can tell you he was profoundly inspiring to those who attended the public events and was equally inspired by the faith he found here. His visit was truly a gift from God for all of us.
I believe one of the key messages Pope Benedict repeated many times was his fervent desire for spiritual renewal and a recommitment to our faith in Jesus so that we might live more fully as disciples and know the true joy of following the Risen Lord.
“Happy are you who believe!” the pope said at the Mass at Yankee Stadium. “Let us turn to Jesus! He alone is the way that leads to eternal happiness, the truth who satisfies the deepest longings of every heart, and the life who brings ever new joy and hope, to us and to our world.”
We should, of course, seek daily to reaffirm our lives as Christians and disciples, but we have a special opportunity in the Diocese of Rochester to do this publicly and en masse on Pentecost, the weekend of May 11, in all of our faith communities. As part of our ongoing Spirit Alive! spiritual renewal, we hope on Pentecost to ask you to renew your personal relationship with Christ Jesus and your baptismal vows in a very special ritual.
The text of the promise we will make on Pentecost appears, in part, below. I include it here not only to make you aware of it, but also that you might share it with all of your loved ones and friends, and especially those unable to come to Mass that weekend. It was written by our own Father Dan McMullin:
We believe in Jesus Christ
son of the One God
born of the Virgin Mary
faithful to the God of Abraham and Sarah!
We imitate Jesus Christ
who healed the sick
served the poor
and proclaimed God’s own reign on earth!
We follow Jesus Christ
who was condemned by religious and civic leaders
who died but transformed even death
and rose to life everlasting
who blessed his disciples and us with the Holy Spirit
and sends us to make disciples throughout the world.
We recommit ourselves to Jesus Christ
during this year of grace
to one another as brothers and sisters
and to Christ’s mission and ministry in the world.
* * *
Delightfully, May 11 also is Mother’s Day, which, if past years are any indication, is usually the third-highest day of Mass attendance after Easter and Christmas. What a wonderful opportunity this will be to share our joy and our faith with those who do not regularly come to Mass! I know you will be welcoming and reflect the absolute love and openness of Christ Jesus for all of us.
Following this promise to Jesus on Pentecost, let us then daily strive truly to live it out and to keep it.
One way to do this — a very powerful way — is through constant prayer.
I think Pope Benedict said it very, very well when he spoke to thousands of young people gathered at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers.
“What matters most is that you develop your personal relationship with God. That relationship is expressed in prayer. God by his very nature speaks, hears and replies,” the Holy Father said.
That is what Spirit Alive! is all about: helping all of us grow closer to Jesus and to be ever true and better disciples.
Peace to all.