Saturday, I had a wonderful visit to the parish of Sacred Heart / Christ the Redeemer in the town of Manville, NJ. I was invited to lead a one-day pre-Father’s Day retreat/day of recollection for the parish, which is housed in a former bakery and run by Redemptorists from Poland.
I was ordained at a Redemptorist parish — the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Brooklyn — and have a soft spot in my heart for this order, which has a special charism for preaching, especially missions and retreats.
The parish was warm and welcoming, and the clergy could not have been more friendly.
I preached the homily at the Vigil Mass for Pentecost, and we all got into the Spirit of the moment. (Ha!)
The great work of the Holy Spirit comes to us, even now.
It is limitless. And it is timeless.
Look around you and know this: Pentecost never stopped.
It is still going on. Here and now. And every one of us is a part of it.
Pentecost is the parent bringing a newborn child to be baptized — bending over that font to see that first splash of water on the head of a child and hear the first astonished cry from a brand new Christian.
Pentecost is the teenager approaching the bishop to have her head marked with oil — feeling the sense of pride and gratitude that comes with being confirmed, fully initiated in the Catholic Church.
But that is just the beginning.
Pentecost is the lay catechist in Ethiopia helping adults learn the Gospel and memorize the catechism.
Pentecost is Mother Teresa bathing a beggar, Father Damien giving communion to lepers, Maximilian Kolbe stepping forward for a husband and father and saying, “Take me, instead.”
It is Father Ignatius Maternowski, who volunteered to parachute into France on D-Day. While working to set up a hospital to treat the wounded of both sides, he was shot and killed by a German sniper — the only Catholic chaplain to die on D-Day.
Pentecost is all those who are expressing faith, hope and love in the face of persecution, martyrdom and war — and doing it today just as they did 2,000 years ago.
But remember this, too: Pentecost is more than just courage or defiance or sacrifice.
It is hope. Resounding, tireless hope.
It is the tens of thousands around the world who entered the Church this past Easter, seeing beyond the problems of our own age to glimpse instead something wondrous and miraculous and beautiful — the grace of God, something as small and simple as a sliver of bread and as vast and limitless as God’s love.
Our tradition tells us that Pentecost began 50 days after Easter. But nowhere in scripture does it say it ever ended.
It goes on.
Finally, a special diaconal bow to Anthony Scarpantonio — deacon candidate for the Diocese of Metuchen and all around mensch — who invited me to his parish and served as my guide, chauffeur and caterer for the occasion. I had a blast. I hope I get to come back!