On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” – John 20: 19-23
Sunday, the Feast of Pentecost, will be a glorious day. We remember – and continue to experience – the remarkable gift of the Holy Spirit.
It is a gift I neither earned nor deserve. But I accept it in faith and gratitude.
Pope Francis has invited 300 Pentecostal and evangelical leaders to Rome to join in the celebration. They will have plenty of company; 30,000 members of Catholic Charismatic Renewal will be in Rome to observe Pentecost – and the 50th anniversary of the founding of their movement.
Congratulations to CCR and all it does to bring souls to Christ and enrich the life of the Church!
Sunday should be quite a day in the Eternal City. With all the Charismatics, combined with Pentecostals, evangelicals and various categories of folks (mostly Catholic), there will be ample opportunity for fellowship, dialogue, ecumenism and plain old fun. (Somebody have a chocolate triple gelato and cappuccino in my honor, please.)
Rome weather forecast for this Sunday: 87 and sunny.
Just writing about this brings back memories of my first visit to Rome, for Pentecost 1998.
St John Paul II invited all the new Movements to Rome for Pentecost. That meant that Regnum Christi mobilized and flights were booked, hotel rooms reserved and venues planned for myriad events.
My son was in the local RC boys club and signed up to go. My wife, daughter and I were too busy, couldn’t afford it, had to feed the dog or whatever and planned to stay home. Then just a couple weeks before Pentecost, my wife decided it would be great for us to go and things seemed to fall into place and off we went.
It was hectic – and inspiring.
On Pentecost, 1998, my wife, daughter and I found ourselves on the edge of St Peter’s Square, where upwards of a million people had gathered. You could easily identify the Regnum Christis, as the normally shy and reserved members of the Movement became, well, somewhat expressive of their enthusiasm. A few even waved flags and held banners.
As we waded into the crowd, who should we run into but our son’s club chaperone. We were happy to see him, but would have been even happier to see our son, who was 13 at the time. Unfortunately, the chaperone confessed that our son and a younger friend had bolted off on their own and he had no idea where they were.
He assured us that the boys knew where the bus was and even if they missed it, they would find their way back to the Legion seminary where they were staying.
Being the brave-hearted man of the family, I put on a confident face and told my wife the boys would be fine. Besides, in the square with a million pilgrims it isn’t like the grocery store where you hear an announcement that there is a lost child in the canned goods aisle.
My wife was crying and my daughter, who was six at the time, feared she would never again see her beloved big brother.
We walked away from the square and down a side street to collect ourselves. By that time, my wife was praying her rosary while I continued to say that everything would be fine. I apparently wasn’t terribly convincing.
But it was Pentecost, Holy Spirit, faith and all, so no more than a minute later, down the street toward us come walking my son and his buddy. My wife switched from prayers of petition to prayers of gratitude, while I explained to the boys that they were lost. They explained in return that the rest of their club was lost; they knew precisely where they were and where they were going. Then they plunged into the crowd, fighting the aggressive nuns and seminarians for a glimpse of the Pope who would become a saint.
We three remaining family members regained our sense of tranquility, realizing that all was as it should be. Thank you Jesus. Come Holy Spirit!