Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Counsel, Commands, Communion, Consecration
=Life in the Spirit

Father John J. Lombardi

At a reception recently a lady said: "Since we have a few minutes here I wanna ask you a question: Why don’t more priests talk about the baptism of the Holy Spirit?" Hmmm. Good question. Briefly: this means receiving the Holy Spirit more deeply in one’s life, although as Catholics and Christians we already receive Him-the-Spirit at Baptism and completely at Confirmation; and, of course, very time we ask Him. But, sometimes, we allow Him to go unknown, un-be-friended. So: Do you know the Holy Spirit? He is God, of course, but do you really know Him? You know the Father­He’s the Creator of the world; the Son is obviously our God-Man-Savior. But the Holy Spirit: Who’s He?

In all three readings of Sunday’s Mass (Acts 8:5-8; II Pt. 3:15-18; Jn. 14:15-21) we hear of the Holy Spirit.

We Catholics have a lotta’ laws and customs that are really good­and needed, but: do we have the Spirit with us­are we spiritually enlivened by Divine Love-the Holy Spirit? Some (Protestants) call this sanctification and regeneration in the Holy Spirit. More on this at Pentecost, in a couple of weeks­about how we need more of a balance between Law and Spirit-Love, but, for now, let us consider…

Counsel: Parakletos, from the Greek, means counselor, like a lawyer­someone who helps you plead a case or comforts you thru through times. The Holy Spirit helps us sinners as we have so many blocks, clogs in our souls and bodies, and we need re-enlivening, cleaning: the Holy Spirit enlightens us, like a flashlight lights up the darknesses within and helps us see what we need freedom from (sins), and "gluing you" to God, a holy way of life …Pray to the Holy Spirit to show you not only your sins and faults, but also your strengths and blessings. The Name for the Spirit in Latin is Spiritus, the Greek name= pneuma, and the Hebrew name= ruach­all mean breath, life, spirit. So: take advantage of this Consoler-Spirit-Breath-Life and pray deeply. In your meditation each slow, long, loving breath make it with the Holy Spirit, and you may think of the word "breathing." Then, become more selfless, "dissolve solidified, egoic walls" as it were, and undergo transformation and become more spiritualized-one with God-the-Spirit and thereby say/pray: "being breathed." In other words, as St Paul says: "If the Spirit of Him that raised Jesus up from dead dwells in you…He shall quicken your bodies by His Spirit within you…the Spirit makes intercessions

with inexpressible groanings for us… (Rm. 811,28). So, it is no longer only you­your old, weighty self praying, but the Spirit within you: you are being breathed by the Breath of God: so get on board. Remember (and deeply pray) Breathing/being breathed…

Commandments: they’re not options­we must follow them, obey them-as they’re God’s Laws of Love for us. In today’s world of relativism and moral fudginess, the Commandments (See Exodus ch. 20) may be difficult to live but they’re for our good and salvation­in Jesus and the Holy Spirit they guide us to Heaven and holiness. If we really

love God then we’re gonna wanna follow His Way, not our own. Today many people deny objective truth: in other words, some propose that everything is dependent upon culture and time and place, and that there are no norms and

principles, inscribed in human nature by God which never change. However, obviously there are Like: do not abuse children; do not steal ; do not lie and cheat and gossip. We can all agree on these­and other moral truths, and realize they are also knowable and doable! This may mean: in a culture awash with sensuality Christians cannot lust adulterate and cohabitate like the rest of the world; we cannot build up excess wealth; as a Catholic I shouldn’t try take innocent life (abortion; killing) I shouldn’t gossip. There are many moral issues I need use my subjective judgment and discernment on; however there are lotza moral issues that need no discernment and, actually, this frees me to know the Truth, not get stuck in moral relativism (grayness) and then help others towards this freeing Truth. As Jesus says: "So if a son frees you you shall truly be free" (Jn. 8:36) and: "He (God the Father) will give you another Advocate (the Holy Spriit) and He will be with you always, the Spirit of Truth…He will teach you everything" (Jn. 14: 16,26) . And Jesus says, also: "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free"

So, I should wanna follow Jesus and the Spirit’s Way, as Jesus intimates in the Gospel­when we Love Them­the Spirit and Christ­we will seek to try with all our hearts to obey the Commandments because we know they are God’s Way and Plan. However, if we are off course and living according to the world, we may need the Holy Spirit to kinda yank our stubborn human nature back into God’s Ways, not our own which we have gotten used to.

Have you heard of the "Three D- Truth Program" ? The first D stands for dissemination: God’s has spread His truth everywhere­in trees and fishes and humans. His natural laws are all around us­within us. Contrary to what the world says, God has revealed His truth. The Second D= truths are discoverable-we can find them thru the Bible and sacred writings and holy teachers: we are never far from the Truth. The Third D= Truth is do-able­even though the Commandments and Holiness may be difficult-we can live them­we just have to keep trying! The world would treat us a barnyard animals, ethically and morally. But, just remember: We are not animals­we are spiritual mammals.

Communion: Jesus says in the Gospel that He is in the Father, and, later, that the Holy Spirit will come to us and help us. Upshot: God is One­the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are All-together and we are called to that Original Unity that They are We are all looking for love, unity and joy-- and hopefully not in the wrong places. God offer us that Joy and the Holy Spirit is our Mystical Link to Heaven, Holiness and the Divine Unity of the Trinity. So don’t settle for false forms on unity; don’t fall for illegitimate, passing unions which actually harm you and your human dignity.

As an example we may think of errant, abusive sexuality and, in particular, giving contraceptives and illegitimate sexual education to youth : they’re gonna wanna experiment and disobey the commandments­to live chastely and beautifully. However, in an article "Abstinence Program Successes," author Janice Shaw Crouse shows how recent studies of 16 out of 21 programs found abstinence produced lower rates of sexual activity" (Wash. Times: Apr 25). Despite the fact that there are every year 15 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases abstinence programs focus on developing character traits and building relationship skills, incl how to effectively say ‘no’ to short term pleasure in favor of long term happiness. ..Out teens deserve better." Amen. We need the Gift of the Holy Spirit to lead us from secular sexuality to sacred spirituality and sexuality. The Holy Spirit can because He is God.

Consecration: As in the first reading, thru the laying on of priestly hands, we receive the Spirit, and, unitquely, seminarian-deacons become priests!...I had heard a bunch of reports: a priest said Mass at the Grotto and many said he was just great­people enjoyed him. I wondered what it was all about. Turned out: It was our beloved Fr Reid, retired priest of the Archdiocese of Washington who joins us here for daily Mass. I had a funeral Mass and asked him, alter Christus (another Christ): "George, can you say Mass?" he said kinda sheepishly, "If you want me to." I said "Sure!" He responded with hands in the hair, a great big grin and: "Hooray I’d love to!" He was animated--kinda like a (spiritual) child­at age eighty-something. He said the Mass and apparently gave a heartening homily wherein he spoke of giving every day, to the Lord, and dedicating it to him. I met a seminarian later that nite who went to that Mass and said he almost cried at seeing this elderly Irishman go to the altar gingerly, amass strength to climb the steps and pray the longest Eucharistic prayer and give his whole soul to the Lord. The seminarian said, in effect: He was such a great witness to me, to all, and giving to the Lord. I hope I’m like that and can give like that. He was such an inspiration…Yes: let us all emulate this man who is over fifty years a priest; who served in World War II for our beloved country and who, every day dedicates his day to the Lord God! We have saints in our midst.

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi