Thursday of the 10th Week in Course 2014
One of the beautiful things we lost with the new liturgical calendar is the Octave of Pentecost. Pentecost is the birthday of the Church, the day when evangelization of the nations began in earnest and in the Holy Spirit, so it deserves to be prolonged. The old calendar had the octave, which ended next Sunday with the celebration of the Trinity, in whose name we are baptized. Then we had the season after Pentecost, which lasted until Advent. I think the Church has realized that the downgrading of the Pentecost commemoration coincided with the decline in our missionary spirit. Thus we have the consecration of our Archdiocese to the Holy Spirit, which we celebrate in a special way over the next month. This week we are reminded that we are sent by the Holy Spirit. We are sent to be a gift, a blessing, to every human being we encounter.
In the encyclical on faith, the Popes continue their reflection on faith as a building by focusing on the importance of family: “The first setting in which faith enlightens the human city is the family. I think first and foremost of the stable union of man and woman in marriage. This union is born of their love, as a sign and presence of God’s own love, and of the acknowledgment and acceptance of the goodness of sexual differentiation, whereby spouses can become one flesh (cf. Gen 2:24) and are enabled to give birth to a new life, a manifestation of the Creator’s goodness, wisdom and loving plan. Grounded in this love, a man and a woman can promise each other mutual love in a gesture which engages their entire lives and mirrors many features of faith. Promising love for ever is possible when we perceive a plan bigger than our own ideas and undertakings, a plan which sustains us and enables us to surrender our future entirely to the one we love. Faith also helps us to grasp in all its depth and richness the begetting of children, as a sign of the love of the Creator who entrusts us with the mystery of a new person. So it was that Sarah, by faith, became a mother, for she trusted in God’s fidelity to his promise (cf. Heb 11:11).
“In the family, faith accompanies every age of life, beginning with childhood: children learn to trust in the love of their parents. This is why it is so important that within their families parents encourage shared expressions of faith which can help children gradually to mature in their own faith. Young people in particular, who are going through a period in their lives which is so complex, rich and important for their faith, ought to feel the constant closeness and support of their families and the Church in their journey of faith. We have all seen, during World Youth Days, the joy that young people show in their faith and their desire for an ever more solid and generous life of faith. Young people want to live life to the fullest. Encountering Christ, letting themselves be caught up in and guided by his love, enlarges the horizons of existence, gives it a firm hope which will not disappoint. Faith is no refuge for the fainthearted, but something which enhances our lives. It makes us aware of a magnificent calling, the vocation of love. It assures us that this love is trustworthy and worth embracing, for it is based on God’s faithfulness which is stronger than our every weakness.”
So our primary “being sent by the Spirit” is a mission to our families. The family is the foundation of every authentic and just society. It is in our families that we first and most importantly image God’s faithfulness by our own faithfulness. That fidelity is expressed in symbolic language. I’m not just talking about the acts of love between husband and wife. I mean the symbols of faith we exhibit in the home–crucifixes in more than one location, a special place of prayer, statues of Mary and the other saints. And action symbols of faith are also essential–making the sign of the cross carefully and reverently every time we pray, saying morning and evening prayer, preferably together. There is the family Rosary, or the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin, and the Divine Mercy chaplet.
Don’t stop there. Promote authentic communication. Instead of asking “how’s your day?” ask “What do you have to be grateful for today?” Practice unconditional positive regard for your family members. A hug or a word of encouragement is a missionary action. Every family member, if asked where he experiences love most, should answer, “in my family.” Once we have practiced in our family the building up of faith, then we can relate better to our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we can hold reconciliation with anyone we have offended to be our top priority, just as the Gospel teaches us.