fTHERThe Flame: May/June 2014
Dear Readers of The Flame,

One of my favorite quotes regarding the work of the Holy Spirit comes from Patriarch Ignatius of the Orthodox Church of Antioch, while Metropolitan of Latakia. In 1968 he gave an address at the Assembly of the World Council of Churches. Part of that address is as follows:

Without the Holy Spirit God is far away.
Christ stays in the past,
The Gospel is simply an organization,
Authority is a matter of propaganda,
The Liturgy is no more than an evolution,
Christian loving a slave mentality.
But in the Holy Spirit The cosmos is resurrected and grows
with the birth pangs of the kingdom.
The Risen Christ is there,
The Gospel is the power of life,
The Church shows forth the life of the Trinity,
Authority is a liberating science,
Mission is a Pentecost,
The Liturgy is both renewal and anticipation,
Human action is deified.
Perhaps this quote can be an examination of conscience as to whether the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives. Is Christ only at work in the past? Do we see the Lord at work in and through our lives today? Do we approach our human relationships as a way of merely fulfilling our obligations? Or do we try to approach each person with the tenderness of God? How we need to bask in the Holy Spirit! How we need to believe that the Holy Spirit is empowering our lives and orchestrating our circumstances for the glory of Jesus Christ our Lord! We need the Holy Spirit.

The time between Easter and Pentecost is a new season of prayer and preparations. As we joyfully celebrate the reality of Jesus raised from the dead, we also expectantly seek to be empowered anew with the Holy Spirit. This is why Jesus came-not only to forgive our sins, but to empower by the Holy Spirit to witness to Him in deed and word. There is an apocryphal story circulating that relates a conversation that the Lord Jesus had with one of his angels after he ascended into heaven. The angel said to the Lord, “Your miracles while on earth were amazing. The love you revealed by your patience with your disciples, and especially through your death and resurrection, was beyond words. No how are you going to get the message of salvation out to the human race?”

Jesus said, “I am sending the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. They will take gospel to the ends of the earth!” The angel looked a bit doubtful. “Some of those apostles are pretty weak. Simon, whom you called Peter, denied you three times! Thomas seems to be a chronic doubter. James and John are always arguing about who is the greatest! Are you sure about this?” Jesus said, “Yes, I am sure.” The angel asked one more question, “Well, what is your backup plan?” Jesus said, “There is no backup plan.”

Brothers and sisters, Jesus did not leave us orphaned. We are in the hands of the Holy Spirit. We need to believe this and seek to be ever filled afresh with this gift of God. The Protestant evangelist D. L. Moody often spoke about the need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. He prayed frequently to be filled with the Holy Spirit. One of his acquaintances wondered why he so often asked to be filled with the Holy Spirit. He asked him one day, “Mr. Moody, you are always asking to be filled with the Holy Spirit. You belong to Jesus. You preach his word and live his way. Aren’t you already filled with the Holy Spirit?” Mr. Moody replied. “Yes. I am filled with the Holy Spirit…but I leak.”

We leak too. May we seek to be ever filled afresh with the Holy Spirit: by our prayer, the celebration of the sacraments and espe-cially through our prayer groups and charismatic events, where we can freely experience the charisms and movements of the Holy Spirit. The world is a bit more skeptical of the gospel of Jesus. We need the convincing power of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-11, I Thes-salonians 1:5, I Corinthians 2:4-5) to fulfill the plan of Jesus.

As we approach the great celebration of Pentecost, pray that the whole Church be more deeply filled with the power and person of the Holy Spirit so that we can proclaim with ever more clarity and power that Jesus Christ is Lord.

In Christ,
Fr. Bob Franco

PS: I hope to see you at our annual Pentecost Mass on Sunday, June 8 at St. Michael (Independence). The time is 2:00 PM. Healing prayer and refreshments will follow. All are welcome!