Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

Happy Birthday! Now, you may be thinking to yourself, it’s not my birthday and Fr. Dan is either losing track of time or going off the deep end. And while it is unlikely that my well wishes don’t line up exactly with the day you were born, I still feel confident in wishing you, Happy Birthday!” How can that be? 

I can say it because we are celebrating the solemnity of Pentecost this weekend. With the arrival of the Holy Spirit, we believe that the Church that we are all a part of was born. And so, in a very real way, in as much as you a member of the Catholic Church, you get to celebrate Pentecost like a birthday. But what does it mean to say that the birth of the Church is at Pentecost? 

It would seem that the beginning of the Church was probably earlier than Pentecost. Our Blessed Lord founded the Church and He was in active ministry with many disciples well before any mention of the sending or descent of the Holy Spirit. So what gives? What’s the thinking behind saying that the Church came to be at Pentecost? 

I think the answer and reasoning becomes more apparent when we ask a slightly different question; What’s the mission of the Catholic Church? If the answer is merely that there are followers of Christ, then the beginnings of the Church can have a much earlier starting point, such as the wedding feast of Cana. But at the core of the Catholic faith is something beyond just an individual following Christ, important though that may be. At the conclusion of the Gospels, we see Our Blessed Lord say to His disciples in one fashion or another, “Go, therefore, preaching the Good News to all the nations.Known as the Great Commission, the need to share the faith with others, via preaching and the Sacraments is essential to who we are as Christians, as Catholics. And that work does not begin in earnest until the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost

The presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church and in people of faith is necessary for the completion of our collective mission. It’s the Holy Spirit that inspires us to be of both service and love towards others. It’s the Holy Spirit that gives us the wisdom and knowledge to be able to share the faith effectively. It’s the Holy Spirit that gives us the courage to be bold in our proclamation that Jesus Christ is Lord. Yes, we can attempt such things through our own human efforts, but we won’t be very effective without the presence of the Holy Spirit

And so, we should celebrate well the solemnity of Pentecost. You don’t need a birthday cake per se, but it’s good to realize how the Church becomes truly alive with the arrival of the Holy Spirit. Happy Birthday to the Church! Come, Holy Spirit

Peace and Goodness,
Fr. Dan