Pentecost and The New Evangelization

06-05-2022From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

Today is Pentecost Sunday – the day on which Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to help His disciples spread the Gospel to many peoples and places. In Baptism, and especially Confirmation, Jesus sent that same Holy Spirit to help us spread the Gospel in the world today. Many of you do this by teaching your children about the Faith and sending them to Catholic School or CCD classes. Many also do it by supporting the missions. Still others do it on a personal, one to one basis, sharing their faith with others in conversations and other ways.

St. John Paul II, and his successors Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis – said that our world has need of a ‘New Evangelization.’ By ‘new’ they do not mean that we are to preach a ‘new’ message about Jesus – for “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb 13:8). Rather, the popes mean that – as Catholics – we need to make a new effort at spreading the Gospel in the world.

The news is filled with stories that prove the need for this New Evangelization. So many people need to come to know and love Jesus, and love each other as He loves us. Thus we do well to make that new effort to spread His Gospel in the world.

Here are a few ways to do this:

If you meet someone whose children are not baptized – offer to help them set it up. Call me if you’re not sure what to do. A number of good people in our parish have brought families with several unbaptized children to me, and it was my pleasure to help them celebrate their children’s Baptism.

Gently reach out to people who have stopped coming to Church. Be aware that they may have been hurt in some way and may be resistant at first. Don’t get discouraged, but stay gentle and see what you can do to affect a healing.

Gently see that all the children you know (your own, your grandchildren, etc,) are enrolled for CCD Classes, or Catholic School. Be especially on the lookout for children in 1st or 2nd grade (who should be preparing for First Holy Communion) or 7th and 8th grade (who should be preparing for Confirmation). We don’t want any of our children to miss these wonderful moments in their relationship with Jesus.

These are just a few suggestions. I’m sure you can think of others. Remember that the same Holy Spirit Who came to help the Apostles preach the Gospel on Pentecost will help you do so today!

One part of the Gospel we really need to make a new effort to preach about is the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Jesus emphasized this truth when He said “My flesh is real food…My blood real drink.” (John 6:55 – indeed the whole sixth chapter of John’s Gospel is worth reading on this point).

On June 19th, we will celebrate the Solemn Feast of Corpus Christi – the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. It is a day to celebrate and proclaim our belief that Jesus is not symbolically, but really present in the Eucharist under the appearance of bread and wine. As part of our celebration of Corpus Christi, we will have a brief Corpus Christi Procession around our Church at the conclusion of the 11am Mass.

I hope that many people will join us for the Corpus Christi Procession. It will not take long, but will be a beautiful expression of our faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. I look forward to Corpus Christi every year, and can say that the Procession that day is one of my favorite Catholic traditions.

This year the entire Church in the United States will begin a year long National Eucharistic Revival. It will be a year of events aimed at teaching about, celebrating, and deepening our understanding of Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist, and all it means for us. Please watch the bulletin and parish and diocesan websites for more information about the National Eucharistic Revival.

Finally, I will be going on my annual spiritual retreat from Monday, June 13 thru Friday, June 17th. Recall that all priests are required to make a five day retreat each year. As usual, I will be going to the seminary where I studied for the priesthood to make my retreat. While there, I will pray at the Shrine (and tomb) of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton – whose intercession has obtained many favors for me and my family over the years. Please write down any special intentions for which you would like me to pray while I am on retreat. I will mention each of them each day, and especially when I am praying at the Shrine of St. Elizabeth.

In the meantime, please pray for me today and every day. Let’s also pray for peace, an end to the violence that takes and scars too many lives, and that each of us will, with the Holy Spirit’s help, spread the Gospel in the world today.

Have a great week!

Fr. John